January 9, 2009

Superhero Chessmen

When Andrew was almost three I got this brilliant idea to teach him how to play chess. I thought it would be interesting to see how much he could learn at such a young age, but when I mentioned my idea to the family Alicia immediately responded with some advice:

"Um, maybe you should potty train him first."

I'm sure you'll agree with me that she has her priorities all skrewed up. I mean, it's not like he was going to be sitting on the board without a diaper or anything. Ignoring Alicia, I decided to get started right away. I tried to teach him the best I could how to move each piece but it was an abysmal failure (as was the potty-training, by the way, when we finally got around to that). Yes, it was too young to teach a kid the rules of chess. That part of it failed. But the entertainment factor? Now that has been a huge success.

Though he couldn't grasp the rules, he has caught the spirit of the game and created his own rules. You should see how he can move his pieces. They're like superhero chessmen. They can all fly, come back from the dead, and kill more than one piece at a time. While his opponent is just moving pieces innocuously around the board, Andrew's hoard of superheroes is taking care of some serious business (and I don't mean of the potty-training variety).

So obviously he loves this game, and he wins every time. We all thought he was ignorant of his cheating habit, but after some questioning it was clear that he was fully aware.

My Dad: "So Andrew, are you still playing a lot of chess?"
Andrew: "Yep!"
Dad: "Do you still win every time?"
Andrew: "Yep!"
Dad: "How do you do it?"
Andrew: "I cheat!"

After finding out that he was aware of his cheating habit, I thought I'd play with him tonight and try to break him of it.  I mean he's been playing--and cheating--for a year now.  But, once again, he played by his own rules because a) there's only so many times you can correct false moves b) he's so cute when he cheats and c) the kid's only four.

Here were some of my favorite moments:

The only piece he moved at the beginning of the game was his king. He continued doing battle with his king alone and it took all sorts of coaching to try to keep the king alive, so I finally just killed it and we went ahead and kept playing.

At one point in the game there was suddenly a knight back in play which had already been killed.

When his knight tried to kill my bishop which was only one space away, I reminded him that he had to move in an L-shape in order to kill it. So, he moved in a random L-shape. And then he killed it.

Trying to follow the rules, he moved his queen parallel to my rook and leaned the queen's head down to whisper, "Don't kill me, okay?" (After that, my rook didn't have the heart to do it).

I tell you, if you have the choice between potty training and chess, just keep in mind the entertainment value of the latter.


  1. What a funny and creative kid!

  2. Casey was telling your Mom and Dad how much he likes your blog tonight. Your dad asked if he comments. Casey proudly replied that he has never posted a comment in his life. Any comments out there with his name on it were posted by me from his computer when I forgot to log in as myself.
    But I thought you should know that yours is one of his all time favorites.
    Mine too.

  3. Dream Big! Oh and I like your subtitle...even if it was stolen.

  4. Love the reasoning power of four-year olds. How very ambitious of you to try to teach him chess! But if any kid could, Andrew could.

  5. How smart of the queen to just tell the rook not to kill her. I wonder how the central park chess junkies would like playing with andrew and his superhero, talking chessmen. spice up their chess life a little bit. rex must be so proud.