Kids Chess in the Thunderdome

"Move over, I'm going to beat this kid."

When I heard my daughter say this, I spun around and my shoulder caught the bookshelf that I was standing next to.  Several books fell to the ground and I thought that I was going to have to get my daughter out of a fight and repair the library all in the same day.  This would be a new record of destruction for us.

But what I saw was not my daughter whooping some poor kid.  I saw Little Hoss moving her little brother out of the chair in front of the white pieces of the chess board that they keep at the library.  I walked over and asked my son what was going on.

"She's going to play this kid.  He thinks he can beat her."

Oh shit yeah.  It's on now.  As my son explained it, this young blond hair boy was explaining how to play chess to my children.  He didn't like being corrected by my kids.  Now Little Hoss has decided that a game is the only way to settle this epic battle.  I wanted to hug her, not only for accepting a chess challenge but for not being me at that age.  I got into a lot of fights that usually required some explaining to my parents afterward.

But as the parent in this situation, I would require no explanation.  My girl is going to the Thunderdome of chess skewers and forks, have at it!

My daughter can play chess.  I taught her.  She plays me on occasion.  She's no Bobby Fischer, but she knows what she is doing.  She can skewer a piece and castle and it's become second nature to her.

Now, I'm no chess genius either.  But I have found that if you learn some basic strategy and combine that with some tactics, you can beat 90% of the public at a friendly game.  Most have a passing knowledge of chess and we have taken it a bit further.  I've tried to get the kids to watch chess tournaments with me at times but they fade after the first 5 minutes.  Baby steps, baby steps.  Let that first step be wrecking the random stranger that appears to be talking down to my daughter.

Part of me wants to stick around and be the cheerleader.  I want to get some sports stands around the board and my giant half-gallon of soda.  Perhaps I'll start a little tailgating party in the parking lot, get some beers out and turn on my radio for some analysis.

I leave them though because this is a challenge between kids and I don't want to see the other kiddo cry.  That wouldn't be very fatherly, would it?  It's all about the competition, about fair play, right?  But there is the other dad side of me that thinks "You gonna let that boy talk down to you like that?  Kick his ass, honey."  I don't know which guy to listen to so I leave them at it.

I head back to the children's section to watch my youngest son destroy the toys they have back there.  Occasionally he'll hit a truck with a book and I consider that a win.  He plays chess too sometimes with me although at 4 years old that usually means that he is going to stick a piece in his mouth for a little bit.  That's ok, know your pieces on an intimate level and the rest will follow.

Little Hoss and her brother come join me about 5 minutes later.  I lift my head up from the book that I really wasn't reading.

"How did it go?" I asked her.

"Easy.  I castled early and then it was pretty much over.  I just got his pieces one at a time."

"That's great," I say.

But what I mean is:  That's my girl.  Don't ever let a boy tell you what you can and cannot do.  Now go over there and punch him in the balls for good measure.   It's important that I don't let this Dad out to much, he doesn't play well with others.  He's still needed but he's kind of a jerk.

"Can we go get some ice cream, Dad?"

"You're god damn right we can."

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