My Chess Escapades – Part One by Obe Koko

At the age of 6, I came across the beautiful game of chess. My uncle and his political friends played chess in his frontage. As a little boy, I picked up an interest and fell in love with the game instantly. Though no one taught me directly, by watching regularly, I was catching up on most things. After that, I lost contact with the game until around 1994. I was 12 years old by then. I met a friend, Ronald, the youngest son of his family. When I visited their place, I realized his elder brothers played chess, so seeing the game arranged on their dining table reignited my passion for the game. I started playing, learning, and following up. Within a few months, I started winning against him, but his elder brother, Kelly, was stronger; he was still beating me. But I was closing the gap very fast.

So in 1996, my mum got a big restaurant in the River State University of Science and Technology, so my siblings and I went there, and we were helping her full time. We were living there with her, going to school and coming back, helping her there. She had like 12 to 15 workers because it was the main place where students came to eat, and my mum is a very good cook, offering them multiple delicacies. So by then, her joint was a major place where students and lecturers came to fill their bowels when they were famished.

So I was going to school at La Russell Memorial Secondary School in D Line, Port Harcourt. One day, when I was coming back from school, I saw some students playing chess. About 2 different boards were set up at the F and G hostel, under a fruit tree. They called the place Las Vegas. They played chess and Scrabble there, but there were more chess players. So I was extremely excited, I had to stop by, and I watched. After some minutes, they asked if I would like to try. I happily said yes, so I played about 3 games, and I lost all, but the university student I was playing with confirmed my improvement with each game. After the three games, I left for my mum’s restaurant, with my bag and uniform. I got home late that day because of the chess.

Obele Koko—The Father of Double Knights writes from Lagos, Nigeria


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