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Chess themed - Background Story/ Central to identity

richypie 1 / -  
Dec 20, 2013   #1
I need help editing my common application essay, the prompt is...
"Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story."

A rosewood battlefield lay before me. Rows of grand soldiers stood stoically across the vast landscape, reflecting the complex plans of both generals. Fallen warriors were laid to rest off the board, each one heroically honored for their sacrifice. My father's eyes, aged with experience, glanced over the battlefield and admired his superior position. Checking over his calculations one last time, he moved a piece and it landed with a resounding thud. Knight to H4. I paused there, dazed by the surprising move, and nodded - the checkmate was inevitable.

When I was eight years old, my father persuaded me to join the chess team at my school. The game caught me with its temporary amusement and satisfying victories. However, at this point I did not yet realize how much of an impact this game would have on me. On sunny days, my father and I would sit on stools with the fan blowing in our faces while we tried to outplay each other. With years of skill under his belt, he repeatedly triumphed over my elementary tactics. One day he told me, "There's a reason why you're losing all the time. You lack determination and a goal. With it you can overcome anything."

As time passed, I sought methods to rapidly improve my chess fundamentals. I spent hours into the night reading books on opening theory, chess strategy, and mid-game tactics. The deeper I delved into the intricacies of chess, my calculations became more efficient and I easily discovered the winning moves. More importantly, I understood the simple, yet elusive, essence of chess. The goal was not to capture more pieces but to complete one simple goal: trap the opponent's king. From that day on, I was immersed in a world of different dimensions - 64 squares in two contrasting colors.

Weeks later, the room fell into the quiet silence of contemplation as our minds slipped into the rhythmic clinks of taken pieces and the smooth glides of felted bases. This was our first game after weeks of fervent studying, and I had no intention of losing. My father's attack battered down my king's defense, insistent on completing a brilliant checkmate. I waited patiently for a counterattack while carefully fending off his assault. Then the moment came. I cornered his king and it was checkmate in one move. He chuckled softly and shook my hand, proud that I had learned my lesson.

Before, I hadn't seen the reason to attack the king when there were other pieces to capture. I would blunder around, falling into every trap my father set because I had no direction or goal in mind. From the day I shook my father's hand I meet life with new determination and persistence. Now whenever I face a challenge, I seek to conquer it. When life treats me with adversity, I overcome it. Though the future holds many different obstacles, I wish to set up the pieces again - just one more game.

9muses 1 / 3  
Dec 20, 2013   #2
Honestly, I don't see anything wrong with this essay. It grabbed hold of my attention from the beginning to end. You're very descriptive with your words. Reading this essay, you make me want to learn chess.

Just one suggestion:
"Weeks later, the room fell into the quiet silence of contemplation" Quiet silence is kind of redundant. How about saying the room fell into silence, or the room fell into quiet?

Overall, amazing essay. Good luck with college :)

Do you mind reading my Bryn Mawr essay?
admission2012 - / 481 90  
Dec 20, 2013   #3
I think what you are trying to do here is show how through playing Chess, your father was able to instill in you the values of determination and overcoming challenges. However, this essay really does not answer the prompt. Central to your identity means just that. If you want this to be something that is central to your identity, you need to show that this is a recurring theme throughout your life. Good story, just not a strong response for this prompt. -Admissions Advice Online

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