Chess Medicine


Chess Medicine


Dewain Barber

As I sit in the safari Land Rover I reflect on how far I have come to be in a wildlife-rich country like Botswana.  My wife, Susan, has come to fulfill a dream of seeing the largest living land animal in existence today, the African bush elephant.  Allow me to go back to the beginning because this is about elephants and chess.

After flying for 21 hours, we arrived in Cape Town, South Africa and took the traditional tour of the city.  Then we left for the Cape of Storms which is called the Cape of Good Hope today.  After visiting an entertaining penguin colony, we had a meal at one of the local restaurants and got back to the hotel in the late afternoon.  Shortly, we would head to Botswana to see elephants.

Susan was not feeling well, so we relaxed in the hotel, but unfortunately something she ate did not agree with her and she got sick.  I spoke to the hotel staff, and they recommended we have a local doctor come to the hotel to check on Susan’s condition.  Arriving shortly was Dr. Johann Buys who entered the room and proceeded to get some details about Susan’s illness.  While writing out instructions and prescriptions, he noticed my copy of Chess Life resting on the table.  He asked, “Do you play chess?”

I replied with a smile on my face, “I certainly do.”  We then arranged to play a quick game with my magnetic set while I waited for the pharmacy to deliver the prescriptions to the hotel.  I lost the game, but made a new chess friend in South Africa.  My wife says that I am the only person that can make her doctor’s appointment into a chess game.

No matter where I am in the world, I always seek a game with one of the local persons.  I do not have to speak Zulu, Afrikaans or even English because we all speak the common language of Chess.