Sunday, January 19, 2020


About four years ago, for reasons now lost to the mists of time, I suggested to my mom that she could give Cubby a chess board for Christmas. Or maybe his birthday.

As I said, I cannot for the life of me remember now why I suggested that. Maybe he had played it at school and liked it? Maybe we had an old board at Blackrock and he liked it?

I dunno. Upshot is, we have a chess set.

Someone taught Cubby--probably A., but again, my memory on this is leaky as a sieve--so he knew the basic rules. Cubby taught Charlie at some point in the past couple of years. They would play every once in awhile when they got bored, but it was never a regular thing.

Until now.

I have no idea why, but sometime over the Christmas break from school, chess became Charlie's Thing, with a capital "T." And he is startlingly good at it.

First he played Cubby, but Charlie almost always won. Cubby would usually only play one game (probably because he always lost that game), which didn't satisfy Charlie's insatiable chess demands.

Then Charlie started playing A., who, although he knows how to play, hasn't played in years. A. usually won, although Charlie won often enough that A. has to really pay attention to avoid getting sneakily taken out.

Charlie's a menace with those diagonally-moving bishops that come out of nowhere*.

At some point in this chess battling, I mentioned to Charlie that my high school had a chess club.

"Really?" said Charlie. "I'm gonna start one at my school!"

I tried to explain that this was my high school, which was composed of people significantly older than seven years old. Not many seven-year-olds play chess, I told him. Also, my high school had like 500 people from which to pull members for a chess club, and even then, I think there were only maybe six guys in it.

I was trying to prepare him for the fact that maybe he wouldn't get a great response to the idea of a chess club at an elementary school that boasts all of 25 students. I was worried that he would be disappointed if nobody signed up. I couldn't imagine that this would go anywhere.

Nevertheless, he and Cubby made posters to put in the hallways ("Chess Challenge Club. You may be a pro, but can you defeat The Master?") and a sign-up sheet. Charlie brought his chess board with him to school. They decided to hold the meetings during the last recess of the day.

I happened to be working that day, so I was there to see what transpired. And what transpired was, well, a chess club.

Charlie set up his board to the side of the playground and started playing one of the girls in his class. Some kids left the game of tag currently in progress to see what was happening and then there was a small crowd watching the chess game. And then they signed up to be in the club.

The next day that I was at work, the students in Charlie's class were playing chess in their free time and his teacher had to make rules about who could play when.

So Charlie started the chess craze at his elementary school. It probably won't last long, but for now, he's happy.

And I'm happy that my children are braver than I have ever been about being themselves and following their own passions.

Bravo, Charlie. I hope you will always be so true to yourself.

* I know this because he eventually cajoled me into playing with him a couple of times, even though he basically had to re-teach me the game. I haven't played since I was about ten, and it's ridiculous how proud I am of myself that I won both times. Beginners luck, without doubt. But I must admit, chess is pretty fun when I have the mental stamina to play. Which isn't often.


flask said...

dang. that kind is GOING places.

Anonymous said...

Love this! So cool!

Joellen said...

Yay, Charlie! That is brave to start a club all on your own.

Gemma's person said...

Wowee...good job Charlie / Cubby. Their own brothers team. Working together . Good for dear Charlie for being so good at chess. This could spread city wide. I just love how independent your children are.

tu mere said...

This is so great for Charlie and the school. Somehow, a smaller school with less to interest students seems like a perfect setting to start up something different - so Charlie! Also glad to hear you still have the mental stamina to play and win. Really hope this takes root and continues to be a challenge and fun for Charlie.

Anonymous said...

Charlie could also play chess on the computer. There are several web sites that would "play" with him. Mary in MN

Kristin @ Going Country said...

Mary: Yes, and we will probably eventually tell him that. But for now, one of the best things about chess is that it can be played without the computer and therefore requires interaction with your opponent. Good opportunity for teaching all those boring Life Lessons about fair play and being a gracious winner and all that. :-)