Search This Blog

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chess With Emma

Kasparov and Karpov
I sat at the table to play chess with Emma.  Santa got her a chess/checkers/backgammon board for Christmas.  It was a cheapo folding board with plastic pieces because Santa wasn't sure that Emma would play chess (despite telling me she wanted to learn) once she had a taste of it.  So Santa had his elves whip up a $8.99 multiboard and added it to her pile because Lily's seemed to have grown disproportionately large, and despite it being a bunch of crap she needed, it's all gotta be even.

So we sat, and Emma helped set up the pieces and we got down to the business of playing.  Playing chess with her has been really cool.  She's a quick study.  Actually quicker than I thought she'd be.  She's very bright, I don't mean to make it sound like my expectations were low because she's not bright.  She just has the attention span of a gnat and the patience of. . . well. . . of me.

She moves very cautiously; she doesn't like when her "pawneds" (sic) get killed, or when her "rookies" (sic) get into trouble, and I coach her and show her when I move my pieces what's being threatened and all the different ways she could move her pieces out of danger while gently correcting her nomenclature back to the more accepted "pawns" and "rooks".  And I make trades with her and point out moves where she can take my pieces.  Sometimes those moves come to her without me pointing them out.

This was our third game.  We hadn't completed one yet, but we started early enough that I thought we would tonight. 

Midway through the game I started to threaten her side of the board.  She caught on to her peril quickly.

"I see what you're doing," she said knowingly.
"Do you?" I countered.
"DO you?" I repeated dramatically.
"DO YOU??"
"I grow tired of this," she said, and I laughed.

We traded pieces and she moved her rook back out of danger.  Its edge caught on the seam in the folding board, and several of her pieces tumbled off.  She apologized as we picked them up and replaced them on the board.

"I should get us a better board," I said, "When I got this one I wasn't sure you'd really want to play it."

There was a silence in the room for a minute and Emma looked up at me, her eyes narrowing.

"What do you mean 'when you got this one?'  Santa got this for me."

I took it in stride.  I didn't even lie a huge amount.  I told her I got confused.  That I'd had an old chess board before she was born that was plastic pieces and her mom and I never played so I'd thrown it away.  

She didn't let it go at first, asking a couple other questions which I deflected before we got back to our game.

There is almost no way she bought my pathetic line of shit.  As previously stated, the kid is bright.  Am I trying to kill Santa?  Last year she was a hound of hell on the trail of Santa's mystery, but this year she didn't ask once.  I thought for sure it was because she'd figured it all out and was just keeping quiet thinking that if she unraveled the mystery, the presents would disappear, but then she was spouting the company line and writing presents to Santa and leaving out reindeer food and the whole shebang so I thought we made it one more year. . . 

Just before Christmas she did ask me point blank, and I dodged and asked her instead what SHE thought.  And I changed the subject and it didn't come up again.  If it were up to me I'd have told her, but I can't tell her unless my wife and I have agreed to it first, and frankly I don't know that Leslie would tell her until her 15th birthday.

So anyway, I possibly killed Santa this evening, and definitely killed my daughter at chess.  This time.


  1. WHAT??? My kids are 24 and 21 and Santa is still alive and well in our house. What is wrong with you??? And teaching your daughter to play chess is awesome.

  2. I think you get 3 brownie points for playing chess, but you lose 2 for trying to kill Santa. Do they even have Brownies in the US? Maybe just Girl Scouts points. In that case, you have to buy several boxes of Girl Scout cookies and let Emma eat them in front of you.

    1. Yeah, Emma was a Brownie. Actually she was a Daisy Scout, THEN a Brownie and then. . . well then we quit because she had so much other stuff going on that we couldn't keep that going. But she did sell Girl Scout cookies for at least three years.

  3. Why do they invent all these occasions and holidays where we have to lie to our kids? At least the Santa thing is only once a year. I am really starting to slip on this tooth fairy business.

    1. She busted me on the tooth fairy already. I blogged about that too somewhere. Yeah, i'm ready to be done with the lie.

  4. Okay, I don't know if it's just cuz it's 7:30 a.m. and I have not yet been to sleep (from last night) but "I grow tired of this" is making me laugh uncontrollably.

  5. It made me laugh too. We do that back and forth thing a lot where I say "REALLY?" or "DO YOU?" in increasingly emphatic tones almost like schtick. I keep waiting for her to say "I grow tired of this" again, but she hasn't yet. It'll make me laugh the next time too.

  6. My good friend told me that she believed in Santa until 8th grade. She came into the house after her basketball practice carrying her new gym bag from Santa and her sister's boyfriend said, "Hey, I was there when your mom bought that bag." Elbow from sister. Heidi replied, "But, Santa brought me this bag..." Connection made, Santa dead. Way to go, Dad. However, I think it is best that you don't let Emma get too old. 8th grade was pushing it.

    1. Agreed. I don't want her getting her driving license still believing. . . like her mother did.