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  • Chess

    Click image for larger version  Name:	chesspieces.jpg Views:	1 Size:	69.8 KB ID:	207So I’ve always wanted to be one of those chess people. You know, you’ve seen them in the movies. The unassuming girl who everyone underestimates, but she sits down at the chess table and demolishes the most genius-y of the geniuses there. I want to be crafty. I want to be impressive. I want to be the owner of that goddamn board.

    But I’ve never learned how to play, mostly because I’m afraid I would be none of those things. Because from what I understand, chess takes patience and attention to detail — not my strong suits. I’ve never wanted to embarrass myself.

    Recently, my husband and I took our four year old daughter to a STEAM festival in Costa Mesa. It was a pretty cool event, with robotics and science experiments and craft projects and violinists.

    There was also a chess table.

    You already know where this is going, but bear with me.

    My daughter saw the giant chess board and was immediately enchanted. She sat down at one of the regular sized tables and demanded that I play with her. I don’t like my daughter to think I don’t know things, but in this case, I’m pretty sure it was obvious.

    ”Ummm...this is a pokey guy. He can poke the other players. And this one is a pawn, he is weak.”

    The chess instructor took pity on my daughter and talked to her. “Hello there. Do you want to learn how to play chess?”


    ”Well, alright then.” The kindly man patiently explained to my daughter what each of the pieces does, and she absorbed it quickly. I sat there listening, awkard and silent, as my four year old absorbed all this new knowledge, and demonstrated a proficiency that I envied.

    “Do you think you’d like to go to chess camp this summer and learn all about chess?”

    “Yes, I would!” (Her enthusiasm is adorable, right?)

    ”Alright!” He gave her high five and gave me a pamphlet about chess camp.

    Well, this incident gave me the incentive I needed. I was going to learn how to play chess, dammit. And then I was going to raise a goddamn chess champion.

    I immediately purchased a chess board. And then we got to work.

    Sadly, as it turns out, I am not a chess prodigy. I tried to play with my husband, and he beat me, all three times. I mean, yeah, he’s been playing a lot longer than I have, but still. I feel like a native chess genius would be able to beat him, regardless. I would make sneaky plans, and feel really proud of myself, and he’d say things like, “I see what you’re trying to do. It’s clever. But it won’t work. See, watch this.” And then he’d destroy me.

    Also, I got frustrated when my husband pulled little tricks like “castling” and “en passant,” which are basically some bullshit chess rules where you can defy all the laws of how the pieces are supposed to work, and move shit around willy-nilly. I don’t care how much French you know, you shouldn’t be able to just move the pieces however you feel like, Phil.

    And so, my dream of being a master chess player is at an end. But, my dream of pushing my child to greatness is just beginning.
    Dana Hammer is a writer of things. Why not check out some of her other work, including how to buy her latest novel at
    Last edited by Craig Reade; 05-03-2018, 03:53 PM.

    • Jephd
      Jephd commented
      Editing a comment
      Chess is a great way for kids to get their heads round some surprisingly complex strategy and problem iisolving. Even if she isn't the next Kasparov learning chess is a fantastic tool for your daughter's future. I speak as one who regularly gets beat by his 10yo nephew and is about 2 games away from never beating his two 8 yo nieces ever again! (Those girls are evil geniuses)

    • Jephd
      Jephd commented
      Editing a comment
      Also when did STEM become STEAM?
      It sounds like Sciences mum got involved
      "Science! I see you playing with your friends Engineering Maths and Technology, but I want you to play with your little brother Art"
      "But muuuuum the whole point of STEM club is to steer kids into sciences instead of the Arts"
      "Don't backchat me! Let your brother play or I'll take away your Bunsen Burner"

    • danahammer
      danahammer commented
      Editing a comment
      I know, right? Why not just call it “educational activities?” All they’re leaving out is history and PE, right?
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