We recently held a chess tournament at the Collegium. The format was simple: we had eight participants starting from the quarterfinal stage, and the winner moves to the next round. Eight (8) year old Chava Soto who just started playing chess recently was the youngest among the participants. He played a nice first game to beat his older opponent. Chava was quite excited; but his older opponent was left devastated. Unfortunately, Chava had to leave without playing the next round due to an emergency. However, a few minutes later, Chava returned and shortly after we felt compelled to have a rematch with the same opponent. This time though, Chava lost a close game! All of us felt very bad for Chava, as he deserved to win.
Chava however was brave. He displayed amazing maturity and said that he did not feel bad losing but was happy for his older friend who won the game. He told me that he felt very bad to see his older friend crying; he was just happy to participate in the tournament. He said that he thoroughly enjoyed playing chess.
I have been working with children for quite a long time and it is amazing how much I learn from them. It was hard for me and Rachel to control our feelings as we felt so bad for Chava. But Chava never shed a tear. We knew he was hurt, but he stayed strong. He continued to support his friends who were playing the next rounds, exhibiting exemplary good sportsmanship. He was there until the finale and had a big smile on his face as all the participants received certificates and a special drink.
Chava’s composure and maturity was inspiring to us. Not once did he complain about what had happened. He knew things could have been different and he could have been the winner. Instead he came back the next day, smiled at me and asked me “Abraham when are you going to have the next Chess tournament? I asked him why. He simply said, “I am going to work harder this time to be the winner.”