Thursday, December 29, 2011

No Nerf guns in chess

Playing chess with your 6-year-old son? Awesome!

Getting beat at chess by your 6-year-old son?

Well, that’s just humiliating.

There must have been a mix-up at the hospital when he was born. It’s quite possible because I was in labor for an entire season of “American Idol.” So I was pretty out of it by the end, and all my cognitive reasoning skills had left the building along with my ability to not pee when I sneezed.

Ever. Again.

But back to our little resident genius....

Taking into the account the fruit of the loins from which he sprung (both male and female), there’s a slightly-better-than-average chance this kid belongs to someone else.

A Nobel Prize winner? A Rhodes Scholar? The guy who invented duct tape?

In any case, our little guy is much farther along in his intellectual development than his father or I was at that age.

By 6, I was still in awe of Silly Putty, Scooby Doo and the Lite Bright.

By 6, my husband was still in awe of anything related to boogers, farts and “pull my finger.”


Tell me again why women don’t rule the world? But I digress....

By 6, our son is already playing chess.

No one likes a smarty pants. Unless I am the smarty pants.


“You can’t do that.”

My son’s calm admonition stopped my hand in midair.

I grrrrr-ed under my breath and slowly set the chess piece back onto the board.

It was a knight. I think. Or maybe a rook? Or a castle?

Wait a minute. Aren’t a rook and a castle the same thing?

Son of a bitch.

I sighed heavily and muttered, “OK. Tell me again.” I pointed to the no-idea-what-it’s-really-called-but-it’s-starting-to-tick-me-off figurine of polished wood and asked, “Where can this guy go?” (“Besides headfirst into a fiery funeral pyre,” I added silently.)

My son smiled and recited, “Rooks can move forward, backward or to the side. Not,” he paused and held up a finger for emphasis, “diagonally.”

Geesh. He swallowed the instruction book and turned into a reincarnated Bobby Fischer right there in my living room.

If we start to play Harry Potter’s Wizard’s Chess, then I am soooooo gonna die!

So it only made sense that he - the first grader who had begun attending his school’s weekly Chess Club - help his parents learn the game too. Otherwise, he’d only have the dog to play with at home.

She’s cute and all...but she lacks critical thinking skills. She eats poop. How smart can she be?

And for the record, my husband had no intention of getting anywhere near a chessboard. 
Sure, if the game involved pyrotechnics, naked women or beer, he’d be all over it.

So it was up to me, Mom, Defender of the Universe and All Things Righteous, to help our little bugger build on his new skills.

How hard can it be?


“Don’t forget, Mom,” he instructed, “you want to castle-up within the first seven moves of the game.”

I looked at him, jaw hanging open like a mouth-breathing gorilla.

Well, that’s really an insult to mouth-breathing gorillas everywhere, isn’t it? They probably already know how to play chess. It’s their first step on the way to world domination, you know.
And back to he even speaking English? Because I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Sure, he may have mentioned that particular nugget of information once - or 15 times - before. But my brain was already on overload: remembering the names of the pieces, remembering how to line them up, remembering how they could move, remembering if we had any tequila in the house because that’s the only thing that would save my soul at this point.

“Uh, ‘castle-up’? What’s that move again?” I asked. “And just how important is it?”

I motioned toward one of the pieces, “Because I’m thinking about using one of your Nerf guns to blast that tall piece right there. Game over. I win.”

He smiled - condescendingly, I might add - and said, “No, you can’t do that either. No Nerf guns allowed in chess.”

Well, crud. Where’s that tequila?

**I recently discovered, thanks to the heads up given by my adorable son's chess teacher, that the term is "castling" not "castle up." No wonder I kept getting it wrong. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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