Looking Ahead—Isaac Gomez of Provo, Utah

Looking Ahead—Isaac Gomez of Provo, Utah

Isaac Gomez is seven years old, but he plays chess like someone much older. He can do this because he has learned to look ahead. It has been calculated that the 32 chess pieces on the board’s 64 squares can create a novemtrigintillion different combinations through moves and exchanges—that’s the number 1 with 120 zeros after it! Isaac must continually peer as far as he can into that maze of possibilities in order to choose the right move. He has become a rather “far-sighted” boy.

When Isaac was five years old, his grandfather, who was visiting from Mexico, gave him a chess set and taught him the rules of the game. Isaac caught on so quickly that he was soon competing in tournaments. At first he wasn’t taken seriously. “We went to tournaments, and they thought he was too small,” his mother, Astrid, remembers. “No one wanted to play with him.” Now tournament organizers from several states know him and welcome him.

Isaac is competitive and doesn’t like to lose, but when he prays before each tournament, he does not pray to win. He simply asks for help to do his best. So far, his best has been very good. He has earned a shelf of trophies and defeated much older opponents.

Chess is a demanding game, and Isaac studies it intensely. But it isn’t his only interest. He likes soccer and plays on a team. He also enjoys movies, swimming, basketball, ice skating, bike riding, trips to nearby canyons and mountains, motorcycle rides with his dad, and playing with friends. Sometimes in the summer the family goes to a park near the Provo Utah Temple and slides down a grassy hill on blocks of ice. Isaac has a healthy appetite too, especially for his mother’s picada, a traditional Mexican food from the Vera Cruz region where she grew up. It is a homemade tortilla with cheese and salsa on top.

Isaac also enjoys school. He is a good student and has earned honors for doing well in his classes. Like many chess players, he likes math, but he likes physical education and recess just as much. At home, he does his share of chores, including washing dishes, taking out the garbage, and cleaning the room he and his brothers share. And, of course, he’s always ready for a game of chess.

Although Isaac plays to win on the chessboard, he is kind and caring elsewhere. “He’s a nice guy,” his father, Jorge, says. “He’s good to his younger brothers, Arath and Brandon. He helps with anything they need. He also teaches chess to anyone in our ward who wants to learn.”

As Isaac approaches his eighth birthday, he is preparing for baptism even more seriously than he prepares for tournaments. Brother and Sister Gomez don’t want Isaac to be baptized just because his friends are—they want to be sure he understands the commitment he is going to make. Isaac is reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know the truth. He has a good feeling about the gospel.

He has a great desire to live it too, and sets a good example. “We were at a checkout stand in a grocery store,” his mother recalls. “I opened a bag of potato chips for the children, but Isaac said, ‘You shouldn’t open it yet. First you pay, and then you eat.’ He wouldn’t take any. After the clerk passed the bag through the checkout stand, he took a chip. So I learned a lesson that day.”

Isaac’s influence for good doesn’t end with his family. His chess skills and study habits have been featured in TV reports and newspaper articles. His mother says, “Parents have come to us to say that their children read an article or saw a TV report about Isaac and were motivated to study harder.” Some have taken up chess themselves. “Chess helps them to understand mathematics and read better,” Sister Gomez explains. “It also keeps them busy and helps them stay out of trouble.”

Brother and Sister Gomez expect great things from all their children. “There’s nothing they can’t do or be if they choose,” Brother Gomez insists. “We see them as great people who will do much good and serve their fellow men. We are always thinking of them. We try to attend their activities and we put them first in our lives.”

With such caring parents, Isaac is off to a fine start. He has already learned that a good person, like a good chess player, must always try to look ahead and choose the right. As Isaac keeps the commandments and prepares for baptism, he is learning to see farther and deeper into a bright future.

[photos] Photography by Melvin Leavitt

[photos] Whether winning trophies in chess tournaments, doing chores with his brother Brandon, or savoring his mom’s picada, Isaac always feels the support of a close and loving family.

[photos] Isaac is a well-balanced boy who studies hard, likes playing with his family, and enjoys having the missionaries over for dinner.