What to Say: Pork Chops, Shoplifting, and Chess

I was nineteen and working at a grocery store. I was stocking at the end of an aisle close to the meat counter when I saw him. He was a large man looking at a large package of pork chops. He slid the package into his coat and began walking. I began following him. He went out a side door which set off an alarm. I continued to follow him knowing that others would join me because of the alarm.

He turned toward the back of the store and kept walking but suddenly realized I was back there. He stopped and demanded to know what I wanted. He scared me, so without thinking I said, "People who steal go to hell." He turned, walked a few paces, and turned back toward me who was still following and held out the pork chops.

I was scared to death. Remember, I said he was large! I reached out as far as I could while retaining as much distance as possible and took the pork chops. He turned and kept walking. In the distance behind us, I could see a couple of employees who had finally come to check on the scene. I continued to follow him until he turned again and said. "Hey, man, I gave you to pork chops. Why are you still following me?" To which I more calmly replied (with backup coming): "People who steal also go to jail."

He turned to go out toward a major street and was walking down the sidewalk. The two employees joined me just in time to see a panel van pull up and two men quickly jump out of the van and jump the shoplifter. They wrestled him to the ground and placed handcuffs on his wrists. I found out later that he had just been released from jail that morning.

Why do I share the story? Because this was a situation in which I did not know what to say. Life is full of those moments. And I believe that is also the case for many of us at the end of a game of chess: win, lose, or draw.

What should you say at the end of a game? Should you say "Good game?" Certainly that is appropriate in an evenly match struggle. But what if they lost badly? He/she may then think you are being sarcastic. What about "Thank you?" Again, it may be viewed as sarcasm. What about saying nothing? Is that rude? How about  "Thanks for playing?" Seems to be a bit more bland but perhaps acceptable.

What about when you lost? What is the right thing to say then? What if you are angry--more at yourself than anyone--for letting the game slip away. You may not feel much like responding--at least nicely. If you cannot say something nice, then it would be best to say nothing. But, again, "Thanks for the game" or "Thanks for playing" hurts nothing. If they deserve the words, "Good game," then you should go ahead and share them. After all, while chess is war on the board, the game deserves civility.

And in the case of a draw both players should express something nice, even if you were ahead and should have won. But after a long, hard-fought draw, your opponent deserves your affirmation. Take time to express appreciation--perhaps even to talk about the game. Good sportsmanship may even lead to starting another game!

What (besides nothing) have you found to say at the end of a game that seems to work best? Leave a comment below and share your experiences. But remember: Saying "People who steal go to hell" will not work! Unless it is to me--because it will make me smile!Laughing


  • 9 years ago


    He must have been pretty desperate to steal pork chops, and he gave them back.  I'd have let him walk.
  • 9 years ago


    Well, I usually say, "I've been trying to give up the game for the last 10 years and our game there just makes me even more determined to do so."
  • 9 years ago


    I say "good game" if it has been, "thanks for playing" if a mediocre affair. If the game has had a little banter, or I've particularly enjoyed the game, I  sometimes get involved in a little post-mortem.


    A question or two for you though, kcbishop:

    1. What possessed you to give a damn about the store's pork chops?

    2. As he was probably stealing out of necessity rather than for profit, how do you feel about helping to send a man to jail for feeling hungry?


  • 9 years ago


  • 9 years ago


    nice story. btw, i think that "good game" it's ok, even if you win, you still learn something about it.
  • 9 years ago


    good game is appropriate and usually sufficient, if i`m o.k. with the opponent and they have been good/bad, i may comment on good play i may also give advice if i`m more familiar w/them, trouble is i`m quite extrovert so i tend to be vocal, in the best possible sense, i know there have been night mares for some people but fortunately i have not encountered any.....
  • 9 years ago


    I just stick to good game it seems to work best, this is also what Benjamin Franklin tries to point out in The Morals Of Chess
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