That time my 8 year-old taught me how to play chess. — For Jules
(I think I may have told this story before, so bear with me if you find yourself having a Groundhog Day moment.)
So, a couple of years ago I made my son a chess set for Christmas. His father had taught him to play; the same man who’d tried to teach me many years before.
For some reason, I never could remember the rules of the game.
But I did end up knocked-up. So, there’s that.
Anyways, I’m not a strategist. I can’t think ten seconds ahead, much less ten MOVES. But I really wanted to play with the kiddo, so I was going to do my darndest to figure that shit out.
Let me rewind about a year. I’d forgotten about our first discussion on the subject.
2013 — Age 7
Alex had just started playing and his dad mentioned he had picked it up really quickly. Clearly, not something from my side of the gene pool. So one night I asked him, casually, to explain it to me.
My first-grader picked up a pen and a sheet of paper. He drew the board, and then drew one piece at a time, diagramming the ways they could and couldn’t move. This had always been my biggest hurdle to overcome. I could never remember who could go where. He started with the king, and explained how the whole point of the game was to protect the king. He explained it as if the pieces were actual people, and for the first time in forty years, I GOT IT.
So, that was pretty cool.
And then, we moved and we moved on and I forgot it again.
to the following Christmas…
The Following Christmas — Age 8
Alex opened his present, and of course wanted to play a game. He was practically a grand master by then ( he was winning against his dad pretty regular, anyways), so I was grateful to benefit from his wisdom.
I asked him to set up the board while I finished the dishes.
“Black or white, Mom? “
“I don’t care. Whichever you don’t want to be, I guess.”
“Well, white always starts. Do you want to start?”
So, I started. He’d given me a refresher on the basics, but I still wasn’t able to see the board as anything more than a board with a bunch of stuff on it. Alex was being his usual sweet self, reassuring me and stuff, but I kept screwing up, and I wanted to make sure I learned as much as I could, so…
“Hey, Alex! Would you mind if we kind of made this game a practice game? I’ll tell you where I think I should move, and you can tell me why or why not it’s a good idea?”
“Sure, Mom. I guess it’s okay if we do that for just this one game.”
“Great! You’re going to teach me a TON tonight, I can tell!“
I moved. He shook his head and told me why that move was a terrible idea. I changed my move.
He moved )*3
I moved again
“Alex! You were supposed to be teaching me how to play during that game!”
He is grinning so hard I fear his face might split open,
the little shit.
“Mom! I taught you the most important rule of all…
NEVER trust your opponent!”
And, so he did.