Margaret claims the first win

Margaret claims the first win

Everyone in my family has many memories around chess from elementary school events to national championships.

But the one who claims the first win is my mother, Margaret. She tells the story of how in 1961, when she was in 7th grade in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada, she won her classroom tournament in "upset" fashion. Margaret can be seen in this classroom photo 3rd from right.

The winner of the girls section and the winner of the boys section were to play for the class title. In playing for the title, Margaret's final opponent suffered embarrassment when she defeated him with the same strategy he had been using to win the boy's section! She had been "tipped off" to his strategy by another one of the boys who lost to him(!)

The "prize" in those days was a felt "patch" King you could sew onto your jacket.

It's a fun story, nicely woven into our family history. Although there were no more opportunities to play in those days - she's still the first winner in our family!

The story behind the story though is that our mother has supported our journey through chess and life behind the scenes through these years. Like all mothers who help nurture the best in their children, she is amazing, never asking for the credit she deserves.

Just one unassuming example of her influence is seen in the photo below.

Until now, only I and a handful of others know that the bright white drawstring chess bags included with many of today's Chess House products has its own story, thanks to my mother.

I patterned this bag after the original white fabric bags she patiently sewed to keep our first chess sets prepared for play.

It can be small things that make a meaningful difference.

-Raphael Neff

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