- Associated Press - Monday, May 16, 2016

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Desperate for a competitor, Bill Nangle posted a cardboard sign reading “Anybody want to play chess?” on the door to his nursing home room.

Nangle, 89, had a long and successful history playing the game before he came to Creasy Springs Health Campus in Lafayette three years ago.

He learned to play when he was 21, after his buddies came back from World War II. (Nangle stayed back because he was 4-F, or physically unfit for service, because of his eyesight.)

His friends in service passed on the chess skills they learned during their downtime, but they soon refused to play him because he always won, Nangle recalled with a smile.

“I started playing them and beating them, then they quit,” he said with a laugh.

Now, nearly 70 years later, in a nursing home and as a recent widower, Nangle found himself without anyone to play his beloved hobby with.

His daughter, Trish Gaylord, made it her mission to find someone. She called up McCutcheon High School in January and asked if they knew of any kids who would want to play. She was amazed when six students quickly jumped at the opportunity and came to meet her and her father the next week.

“These kids - I cannot even say enough,” Gaylord said as she praised four of the students at the nursing home Wednesday. “I love them.”

The students come three or four times each week, almost as much as Gaylord.

Two students - Alex Storz and Ryan Howard - learned the game when they were young but found themselves in a similar situation as Nangle. They were without fellow players because not many people their age knew how to play, Storz and Howard said.

“I’ve really enjoyed this opportunity,” said Howard, who had been playing online before. “And it’s awesome to play with Bill.”

It was a bit awkward at first to come to the nursing home and approach Nangle, the students said, but they were soon joking around with one another while Nangle helped them hone their skills.

“At first, he won all the games, but now it’s getting a little more even,” student Joshua Stalbaum said.

“Bill is a teacher,” student Nathan Chapman said after playing a game with Nangle. “I learned quite a bit about the game from Bill over the course of these weeks.”

Nangle has more than enough experience to pass on. He used to compete with master chess players from Purdue University and with people from all over via post cards, Gaylord said.

Nangle said he once even met Bobby Fischer, a World Chess Champion and one of the greatest players of all time, and Fischer passed twice on making moves on Nangle’s board.

After very focused games of chess, Nangle asks the students about their school work and plans for the future.

“They’re college material,” he said. “I know that.”

The four students, who are all seniors, are academically strong and involved in other activities, said Gloria Grigsby, McCutcheon teacher and sponsor of the school’s volunteer club.

Nearly in tears, Gaylord said she couldn’t be more thankful for everything the students have done and hopes their experience with her father inspires other young people to volunteer.

“They’re all going to do great things,” she said. “They’ve all touched my heart.”

___

Source: (Lafayette) Journal & Courier, https://on.jconline.com/27kzUdE

___

Information from: Journal and Courier, https://www.jconline.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide