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!