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We talked much about chess, more than John Warth had planned. He had told me how he teaches it, why he enjoys it, that he builds chess boards and reads chess books.
More than one such volume is strictly about the game’s opening move, by the way.
Warth wanted especially to tout the bookplates he makes. He felt he must point out the features of his exquisite library, which has more than 4,000 books. Warth volunteered how he’s helped children learn German, his fascination with photography, woodworking and drawing. He also mentioned that he reads The New York Times every day â€” one of three newspapers to which he subscribes â€” but clips articles to re-read.
Warth, 52, of New Albany, says a lot because he does a lot. He’s full of curiosity and adventure. â€œThe whole idea is to be active, to pay attention,â€ he said.
â€œThere’s so much to life. Life is so rich.â€
If Warth stands out, shame on us, not him. Warth challenges himself and appreciates all he can about all there is. â€œHe’s a good-hearted person who is a lifelong learner,â€ said Joe Sauer, friend and former chess student.
Joined by Sauer, Warth and I visited in that library, which he built a few years ago in memory of his parents, Frank and Henrietta Warth. It was Warth’s only off-day of the week from Schmitt Furniture. His wife Peggy was at work and their only child, Kevin, was at school. Jazz playing quietly, Warth asked if I’d like some Nicaraguan cappuccino and if I was in a hurry. I said yes, and no.
The library replaced a porch at the rear of a house that was built around 1900. The stained glass, the chandeliers, the high ceiling, the 123 shelves double-stacked, there cannot be any place like it anywhere around here. Warth had insisted it be dignified. Mission accomplished.
â€œThis room is totally a sanctuary,â€ Warth said. It is a man cave, all right, Warth-style, home for his chess lessons along with books, books and more books, mostly nonfiction, many bought used, only chapters of which he’s typically finished.
â€œI read literally dozens of books at the same time,â€ he said. â€œThat’s the way I’ve always read.â€