Thursday, September 8, 2011

Learning Chess

Kai’s grandfather is a chess aficionado. As such, I’m sure it would give Papa great satisfaction to pass along his passion to his grandchildren. But chess is not a game for very young children, and Kai wasn’t ready to learn it.

Until now.

A few years ago, my wife and I celebrated when Kai went beyond the games of pure chance that really young kids play. No longer did we have to keep playing Candyland or other mindless games over and over. At last, playing games would be fun for us too now that we could play some that involved thinking and strategy.

We started with games like Uno that combine luck with some skill. But these days Kai is quite proficient at games that are completely skill based like Qwirkle and Blokus.

But, while Kai was able to learn these games of skill, chess was another story. Chess is a bit more complicated, with pieces that move differently and with a number of exceptions to how moves can be made.

For those not familiar, just with the pawn alone, there are a variety of moves to learn. While a pawn usually moves only one space at a time, each pawn can move two spaces on its first move. It usually moves straight ahead, but has to go diagonally to capture another piece. When it reaches the end of the board, it no longer is a pawn, as it can be converted into any piece. And, let’s not even get into “en passant” which is a special move that a pawn can make.

Earlier this year, Papa gave Kai a chess set. But, at that time, Kai was not yet ready to learn.

While we were on vacation, though, watching the same Donald Duck math dvd that showed a pool table, Kai took notice when it briefly showed a scene about chess.

And so, after we got home, he asked to see the chess set that Papa had given him.

We set up the board and I explained the basic moves of each piece. My wife did not know how to play either so it was a joint lesson.

After the lesson, they played each other. Kai beat Mom, with just a little bit of help from me.

This past weekend, we visited the grandparents. We did a lot of fun things, but one anticipated moment was the first chess match between Kai and his grandfather.

It wasn’t exactly the match of the century. Kai has got a lot to learn about playing chess, and Papa passed along a number of tips as they played.

But it was an introduction to sharing his grandfather’s passion for the game. And in that regard, the match was noteworthy.

And just maybe, Kai learned a little something from his grandfather’s lessons. The next day, without anyone’s help, he beat Mom.


  1. It must have made the Grandfather very happy to have little Kai learning something that he (Grandfather) loved.

    Nothing bonds people more quickly, and solidly, than a shared passion.


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