My nine-year-old daughter and I sit across the table from each other, deeply focused. Both our brows are furrowed. Her delicate little brow, and my bigger, Cro-Mag brow. The entire house around us is utterly still. The air is taut with tension, the kind typically reserved for early morning duels: two opponents facing each other just before dawn, pistols raised, barely visible to each other through the fog clinging to the moor.

Situated on the table between us: a checker board.

Checkers. Sport of kings. Wait, that’s chess. Ok, maybe not kings so much. But definitely the sports of middle managers and higher echelon henchmen.

This is her first time playing. It’s a birthday gift from my parents, and she loves board games.

Which is tricky because the kid hates to lose. At anything. She’s… uh, sort of like her Dad that way.

Before we started, I explained the rules, mapped out a few simple strategies, and said, “Remember, this is your time playing. It may take a few rounds before you start to get the hang of it.”

“Oh yea?” she said, the spark of challenge lighting up her eyes, “How long have you been playing Checkers?”

“A few decades, kiddo.”

“Well we’ll just see about that,” she replied, giving me Smug. This kid. She’s all piss and vinegar at the start of a competition.

“And Daddy?”

“Yea?”

“Don’t let me win.”

And with that, the gauntlet was thrown.

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