DEAR AMY: I am a man who enjoys playing chess. A couple of days ago, I was playing a game of chess against a woman who put me in very serious trouble from the start. In order to avoid the pain and embarrassment of being checkmated, I tried to resign. People resign in chess in order to avoid the embarrassing endgame. It is the mercy rule of chess. However, my opponent would not accept my surrender. She wanted to see me squirm. She wanted to checkmate a man. I felt very embarrassed as she was moving closer to the final “mating.” Then she announced that she was going to use her female piece, her queen, to execute the “mating.” She then placed her queen up against my king, smothering my king. In front of several of her girlfriends, she declared, “Checkmate.” This was extremely embarrassing for me. Chess is the only game that has a special word to announce doom for the defeated person. I conceded defeat to her; again, very embarrassing for me. Amy, how do you feel about the response of my opponent and her girlfriends? I feel that my opponent should have accepted my intent to resign.
Totally Embarrassed in Defeat
DEAR TOTALLY: I can understand why you felt so violated.
I shared your question with Daniel Lucas, editor of “Chess Life” magazine (uschess.org), who answers as follows:
“The Russian-born grandmaster Savielly Tartakower wrote, ‘No game was ever won by resigning.’ While it is true you should fight to the bitter end, there can come a point where a game is hopelessly lost, and in that case, most players on the winning side find it rude if their opponent continues to play on — resignation is expected.
There is no such thing in chess as ‘not accepting a resignation.’ The next time you are facing a lost game, offer your opponent a firm handshake and say, ‘I resign, good game.’ You can even punctuate this by tipping your king over.
If your opponent insists that you play on, it is perfectly acceptable to say, ‘I resigned. The game is over. Congratulations on your win,’ then get up and walk away.
A player should be gracious in victory. A sportsman would not gloat but would respond with, ‘Thank you, good game to you, too,’ and then engage in a friendly post-mortem where the ‘what-ifs’ can be analyzed. This helps turn the game from a pure won/lost equation into a positive learning experience for both players.”
DEAR AMY: I have a daughter with a woman that I didn’t know very well. To be honest, she tricked me by telling me she was on birth control when she wasn’t. She moved back to her home state to have the baby. Now she has married another man. She teaches my daughter (2 years old) to call him “Daddy.” They even teach her that her last name is his, when in fact, it is mine. I live over four hours away from them. It really bothers me. Should it?
DEAR STRUGGLING: Of course this should bother you. You imply that you are trying to maintain a relationship with your child, and I assume you are paying some child support, as well as seeing her when you can.
Understand that it is confusing for a toddler to grasp this parentage situation, especially if she doesn’t spend time with you, while this other man is in her life every day.
You should ask a lawyer to review your options. Does this man want to adopt your daughter? Are you open to that? Can you manage bi-weekly (or monthly) visitation? Can your daughter call you “Pappa” while she calls this other man “Daddy”?
All children should be told the truth about their parentage, but this will happen in stages. You should be involved in the truth-telling, in a gentle way.
DEAR AMY: As part of the discussion over how to address a woman who has taken her husband’s surname, you suggested, “Let’s stop calling them maiden names.” I completely agree. At my university, they trained us to say “birth name” instead of “maiden name.” It can apply to anyone who has changed his or her name since birth — not just women who change names upon marriage.
DEAR ANNA: Yes. And it dodges the awkwardness of a woman being referred to as a “maiden.”