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The sharp, decisive sound of the chess clock suddenly snapped me out of my concentration. My opponent had made his move.
Deadlock — At that moment, it wasn’t just about victory; my faith and integrity were challenged. Winning meant betraying my honesty, losing meant accepting ultimate defeat for our team.
“We have to win this round in order to place in the tournament! Trevor Browne High School should be an easy victory for us.” Our coach’s words echoed in my mind as we started our third round in the state chess tournament. Despite the high stakes of this round, I underestimated my opponent and ended up miscalculating a sacrifice, which completely turned the game around. The confidence I had earlier was slowly replaced by a mounting sense of dread, and with it, came the pressure of my coach’s words. Out of the corner of my eye, I could sense how tense my teammates were-their desperate stares were all the more imminent.
Half the team had won, half the team had lost. It was entirely up to me to save the team from the defeat. Amidst all the anticipation, a preposterous thought crossed my mind-do I cheat with a chess computer?
Victory would easily be ensured.
I consider myself to be an honest person and pride myself on my sense of morality and sportsmanship. However, under the pressure of a stressful and competitive environment, I was tempted to go against my integrity, especially when there was little risk in cheating. I was faced with a dilemma: losing meant forfeiting the hard work and aspirations of my team in competing at state, and winning would inevitably betray my basic principles of morality.
Before this game, to me, winning meant nothing more than defeating my opponent. However, that definition changed as I was forced to reaffirm my beliefs: do I win by cheating, or lose but still maintain my integrity? While pondering this question, my thoughts took me back to one of my favorite world history lectures: learning about the Greek philosopher Sophocles. He once said, “I would prefer to fail with honor than win by cheating.” Through his quote, I realized a victory by cheating is meaningless. Winning only has its merits through hard work and dedication. I was so obsessed with winning for the team that I neglected my personal values. I can’t ever be proud or satisfied from a victory by cheating; that kind of win is only accompanied by a profound sense of guilt. This realization has greatly changed my definition of victory. Now, losing meant giving myself the chance and motivation to improve myself, and that in itself is true victory.
I shook hands with my opponent. I had lost my game, but I emerged as a victor. I followed my conscience and did the moral thing. Losing the game did not faze me. Instead, it has given me a new definition of victory-accepting defeat and striving for improvement-the driving force behind the successes of my life.
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