Friday, May 20, 2016

Pestaño: No generation gap in chess

THE generation gap is common in all societies between one generation to another. It can be differences in customs, attitudes, beliefs ,opinions or sense of values between younger people and their parents or grandparents.
The sociological theory of a generation gap first came to light in the 1960s, when the younger generation (later known as Baby Boomers) seemed to go against everything their parents had previously believed in terms of music, values, governmental and political views. Usually, when any of these age groups is engaged in its primary activity, the individual members are physically isolated from people of other generations, with little interaction across age barriers except at the family level.
The gap is even more apparent now with the advent of technology such as cell phones and the internet.
There is only one activity I know that has no generation gap--the game of chess. Old people can play with younger people, even children and children can play with much older people and enjoy and interact with no sense of conflict and with no apparent advantage over the other.
This week, a grandparent was featured in my favorite website--an 89-year-old chess fanatic desperate for opponents who is now taking on student volunteers at the nursing home where he stays.
Here’s what wrote: “Bill, who’s been an avid chess player for almost 70 years, posted a cardboard sign on the door to his room at Creasy Springs Health Campus in Lafayette, where he’s lived for three years. It read: “Anybody want to play chess?”
The plea broke the hearts of all who saw it, his daughter Trish said.
“It was just so sad,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Oh my gosh, how can I get him some chess players?’ I knew some schools have chess players or chess clubs.…”
Trish contacted Gloria Grigsby, the assistant principal at McCutcheon High School, from which Trish’s own kids graduated.
Grigsby told ABC News that six students were willing to play chess with Bill. Some of the teens belonged to the school’s board game club, some were from the National Honor Society.
Paige Vester, life enrichment director of the nursing home, said Bill had been having trouble finding chess opponents until the seniors at McCutcheon came along.
“It’s tough to find someone, especially in a long-term care facility, who has the ability to do those kinds of things,” Vester said. “I think these kids are really special and the fact that they get to visit with Bill ... it’s a special connection. [Bill’s] very talkative, very personable ... he’s hilarious.”
Now, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the kids challenge Bill to games of chess.
“Not only do these students have high academic standing, but they’re involved in multiple activities,” Grigsby said. “To then continue to give up more of their time to volunteer, to me, is very heartwarming. We are very proud of them.”
Ryan Howard, 18, said he’s learning a thing or two from his new opponent.”I enjoy interacting with Bill,” Ryan said. “I have elderly grandparents that I don’t get to see much. Interacting with that generation is very meaningful for me. Bill enjoys the experience very much.”
Joshua Stalbaum, 18, also plays chess against Bill. “I feel like Bill really is very passionate about the game of chess and at the place where he lives, he doesn’t feel there’s anyone who’s is good enough competition to give him a fair opponent,” Joshua said.
Bill’s daughter Trish said she’s extremely grateful for the kids spending time with her dad, and hopes it inspires more good deeds.

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