One of my friends texted me a month ago, with some random missive she found on Facebook, “ISO a homeschool family by the name of Otto, that goes to the Garden City library for chess.” And the next thing you know, I’m roped into chess league. What I have now learned about chess is that they want to see you bleed. Chess is something you must do EVERY DAY, like piano. You must suffer. Chess lessons are once a week, and they are TWO HOURS long. This is for reals. It took me a while to wrap my head around it, but it is true. Not only that, but you must give up a Saturday every month for a FOUR HOUR chess tournament, that is performed in ABSOLUTE SILENCE. And this is on top of the chess homework, chess books, chess puzzles, online tactic games, and the occasional friendly. That, and you start when you’re two.
If you did not know this (and now I do), chess is a blood sport. I can’t tell you how many children walked past me crying at the end of the day. 🙂 Of course, it’s still fun, and the kids like it. I just realized that my view of chess as a “casual hobby” was a sad misconception. I now have to make it part of their every day school schedule, and we have to devote a whole afternoon, once a week, to their chess lesson. Of course, I wouldn’t be doing any of this if it wasn’t for our chess coach. Who is a retired military man and volunteers his time for free, which is super generous. We’ve been going for two years now, how can I say no?
Rahab turned seven at Christmas and started attending lessons with the big kids. I think she had only had two before the tournament, but was totally able to hold her own. Even though she lost her three games, she made them work for it. Jael won one of her games, and was probably among the last dozen people to fold each time. Making those boys sweat, that’s what. (She’s in the black and white checkers and blue t-shirt.)
Gideon (playing the green jacket) won two out of three games while Jehu cleaned house and won a medal. These pictures are toward the end of playing so the tables have thinned out, but they had a great turnout of nerdy kids.
It’s funny, because I think Gideon and Rahab might be the only ones who actually love chess. Jehu thinks it might be slightly more fun than actual school. And Jael hates it with a passion. However, now that she can use her lessons to eviscerate boys, she seems to be more interested. But chess for chess’ sake? No thank you. However, Daddy Boy and I decided that she’s going to do it anyways. Sometimes, we do let the kids opt out of things they’re not interested in. For instance, the kids are involved in a play right now and I know how Jehu feels about performing publicly (it’s fundamentally anti-Jehu), so I let him work behind the scenes. Jael’s chess antipathy, on the other hand, seems to be a simple revolt against mental discipline, period. And whoa Nelly, do we need a whole lot more of that! Chess may not be your favorite game, but I do think it helps shape/organize your mind.
So here we are, sign us up. (Except for me. I think I would rather die than do anything that involves the “s” word.” Gross.)