Friendship bridges the age gap through shared passion for chess

Gerald Gold and Laurence Cross have played weekly since last September

At Chartwell House care home in Broadstairs a heartening and intellectually stimulating friendship has blossomed between  89-year-old resident Gerald Gold and 10-year-old local prodigy, Laurence Cross.

United by the game of chess, the pair have been playing weekly battles since September 2023, forging a connection that defies age barriers.

Gerald, who hadn’t touched a chess piece in decades, now finds himself immersed in the strategic game thanks to his young counterpart, Laurence.

Gerald said: “I’ve found it very enlightening. I hadn’t played chess for many, many years and Laurence is a very bright lad. I don’t look on him as being a youngster; I look at him as being not even equal but superior to me in chess. I play chess for the enjoyment of it. He plays to win and therefore always wins.”

For Gerald, the experience goes beyond the chess board; it’s a mental exercise that rejuvenates his mind. He said: “It was nice to play chess again. It’s something you get really involved in, and it keeps your mind alert. That is the main thing. It keeps that mental agility there.

“I think you can communicate more easily when you’re playing chess. You have a common denominator, and you talk, which I think is very, very nice.”

Laurence said concentrating on his moves is his favourite aspect. He added: “When I first started, I mainly play with dad and grandad.”

The youngster says his favourite move is “en passant” which adds a layer of sophistication to his playing style. In chess, ‘en passant’ allows a pawn to capture an opponent’s pawn that has moved two squares forward from its starting position.

Laurence’s chess journey with Gerald began through an introduction by his Aunt Helen, a receptionist at Chartwell House. From this simple act, a bond fuelled by shared passion and strategic thinking developed, leading to the weekly encounters.

Helen said: “It’s heartening to see the joy on their faces when they engage in these matches. Chess is truly a universal language that bridges generations.”

Home manager Diane Collins said: “We believe in the enriching power of activities that transcend age barriers. The bond between Gerald and Laurence is a testament to the vibrant community spirit we cultivate at Chartwell House.”

For budding chess players, Gerald offers sage advice, “Be determined, have the courage of your convictions, and look the other person square in the eye when you call out, checkmate!”