Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chess Lessons

Connor recently learned how to play chess and loves it. Because of this, he requests to play it quite a bit. I've always gotten out of playing the game with him because I didn't know how. Now, the reason that I don't know how to play chess is not because no one has offered to show me. It's also not that I couldn't figure it out myself either. What it boils down to is the fact that I generally do not like games of strategy. It took me only a couple of games of checkers with Craig to realize that, any game where I can win if I just think ten steps ahead, I am just no good at and, frankly, I prefer to win now and then.

But because I love my boy that much, I put aside my hangups and let him give me a chess lesson one day while we were at the library. I listened to him introduce me to each chess piece (the one with the T on the top is the king, the little guys are the rooks) and what it's particular moves are while we start a game. Because I'm getting a lesson from a first grader, some of the moves sound a little suspect. 

I go to take one of his pieces after I move a rook forward and he tells me you can only capture a piece with a rook when you move diagonally. But he just said that rooks only move forward. Hmm. Sounds like you're making these rules up as you go, little boy. With a wifi connection at the library, a search on chess piece moves, and a smug "See, I told you" from my son later, the game continued. And continued. And continued. 

I finally realized that this game was going to involve a whole lot of moving the same pieces over and over just to use a turn with no one really winning. I asked Connor what it took for someone to win. After he explained, I looked at my pieces to see if I could take the steps needed to make that happen. Once I saw that wasn't possible, I began aggressively sacrificing pieces. There goes my knight. Oops, you got my queen. My rooks are being captured left and right, though one mysteriously makes it to the other side.Wait. Now I get my queen back because of that? Grrr. I can't even win losing.

Finally, I hear Connor declare "Checkmate" and I know from watching "Searching for Bobby Fisher" that meant the game was over. He was happy both from having won and also from having taught me how to play. 

I think I liked playing chess better when he was three.

(If the video doesn't appear, click here.)


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