A new superstar is born in our traditional chess world! He is just fourteen years old, but he has yet to lose in an official game since turning pro last October, and he has just defeated six out of seven top-tier traditional chess players in an unofficial event held especially for him. Everybody, professionals and amateurs, as well as lay people like me, see him to be a true gem.
Maybe because he is purely talented, with good imagination and instinct that cannot be taught.
Maybe because he is also a very hard worker, spending his every spare moment on chess, playing it, learning new moves and tactics, and even (day)dreaming about it.
And maybe because his eyes twinkle the most when he is involved in anything chess – you can instantly tell he really loves the game (so much so, his mother seriously worries about his inability to satisfy basic human needs like eating and sleeping)!
But, although I do not doubt he is a rare diamond, I have noticed he is still very rough. In the one loss he suffered in the abovementioned event, he was taken aback early in the game by moves he had never seen – unable to make sense, he used up too much of his time thinking early on, which left him none when he really needed it. He never recovered from the shock, never really got a handle on what was going on, and never had a chance to pull victory towards him. It was made quite obvious that this diamond still needed cuts to become a glittering gem.
Now, then, the question is, is there a diamond cutter skilled enough to let this rough diamond glow as expected, and maybe more? Can anyone cut it without compromising its intrinsic brilliance, or unintentionally but ignorantly scarring or shattering its natural beauty?
It is like asking “what should teachers do when they encounter a student smarter than them?” Should they use the same-old curriculum anyway and risk hindering the realization of, or even attenuating, the student’s real potential? Or should they create a special menu that can satisfy the student’s intellectual curiosity… but how, when they already know that what is a brain-teaser for them hardly tickles their student’s brain?
I do not have a good answer, to be honest. But I have heard diamond cutters say that the most beautiful diamonds are created when the stones “tell” them how they wish to be cut, and they do so without prejudice, preconceptions, or preferences. Maybe the same can be said for the rough diamonds in our young minds.
Maybe we need to put aside our jealousy for their pure talent.
Maybe we need to acknowledge that even talented people must work hard to be and remain talented.
Maybe we need to stop trying to want to shape them into something that they are not, or do not want to be, by pulling them away from their love and making them “more rounded.”
And maybe we need to “listen” to how they wish to be polished up (or not, perhaps).
We have at least one skill that can make us good cutters of rough diamonds – life experience. Maybe we can use it to our full advantage in nurturing our future gems to glitter galactically.
I hope I will get to enjoy for a long long time the works of the diamond cutters in the traditional chess world with our newly discovered rough diamond!