My story concerns how my little sister taught me the moves of chess after learning the game from the neighbors. I was in second grade; she was in first. For the next several years, chess was one of the games that we played like Parcheesi or Monopoly. None of us were skilled. Being the oldest, I won more than my share and was able to maintain the self-deception that I understood the game. Then, in Junior High (they call it Middle School now), I was visiting a friend and saw that he had a chess book: Chess in 30 Minutes. "Wow," I told him, "You have a book about chess, you must be pretty good." We determined through the course of a game or two that he was no worse than me, and maybe a little better.
This event took place the year that Bobby Fischer was laying out more and more demands concerning his upcoming World Chess Championship defense against challenger Anatoly Karpov. They never reached agreement and Fischer forfeited his title. The drama kept chess in the news for several months. We did not understand all the details of Fischer's demands, nor was our knowledge of World Championship matches more than superficial. We did understand that there was some appeal to a long match of more than twenty games between the same two players. That was enough comprehension of world events to inspire action. We commenced a match of twenty-one games or so that took place over the next few weeks or months. Alan also introduced me to golf, which occupied most of our time together.
As I recall, Alan and I were about equally matched when the games began. During my next trip to the Cannon Air Force Base Library, I found the chess books. I checked out an armful, or perhaps one or two. The book that I remember reading was Irving Chernev, The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess (1955). From this text I learned to coordinate pieces in attack. I learned to attack the king. As I usually tell the story, I learned to read chess notation from the explanation in the front of this book. This past week I acquired a paperback copy of this now relatively rare Chernev text from Brused Books in Pullman, Washington. To my surprise, the text does not contain an explanation of how to read chess notation!
What else in my story proceeds from faulty memory? I am certain that Chernev's text was one of those I found at the Cannon library, and have only a vague memory of others. Perhaps I read something by Fred Reinfeld. Likely, I remember Chernev's classic because I spent more time with it than the others. It also influenced both the style of my play, and my skill level. By the end of our match, I was better than Alan. Developing my ability to attack carried me a long way, even into USCF C Class. Moving up from there, however, required more of a positional style. But that gets decades ahead of the story.
Back in 1975 a new friend moved in next door--people were constantly moving into and out of the neighborhood as is typical of military life. We were comparable in our chess skill. We started a match. I kept reading chess books. My skill development outpaced his. I became better at chess than my friends.
Then I played my Dad.
After my mother and siblings had gone to bed, my father and I faced one another across the dining room table. We were there late into the night drinking tall glasses of orange juice and maneuvering our armies. He taught me how to play slower, to think about every move. I managed to win both games, each of which was played on a separate evening.
Then I joined the chess club at Yucca Junior High. That meant taking the early bus to school one day per week. It was dark at the bus stop and cold outside the school while we waited for the janitor to open the door.
I have been an avid chess player since 1975, although I played very little from 1980 to 1989. My first computer and Chessmaster 2100 brought me back to the game. I returned to the Spokane Chess Club in 1995, the year after I finished graduate school. I've lost count of how many chess books that I own.
Chernev's book was my first encounter with the famous checkmate trap attributed to Legall de Kermeur, and with which I became reacquainted through a book that I read twenty-five years later (The Art of the Checkmate  by Georges Renaud and Victor Kahn). It is game 10 in Chernev (5).
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Bg4 4.Nc3 g6 5.Nxe5 Bxd1
White to move
How did the game finish?
Game 15 in Chernev's text is a game between Joseph Henry Blake and William Hook, played in London 1891.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 f5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nc3 exd4 6.Qxd4 Bd7 7.Ng5 Nc6
White to move
The young chessplayers will be challenged to work out the solutions. They may work together using chess boards.