Friday, January 17, 2014


You know how those journalists from satirical news shows go out and ask folks on the street simple questions about U.S. Geography/History/Politics and the folks embarrass themselves and our education system by saying that the state of Texas borders, say...Australia? Well, in a recent development in my life, I'm the one about to be embarrassed because I'm being asked to teach a homeschool co-op class on chess. If a journalist was forcing me to tell you what I know about chess, here's what I'd say:

It's a game of strategy played on a Checkerboard -- or maybe it's a chess board when you're playing chess. But it has lots of squares in two different colors. And there is a row of pawns and then a row with a King, a Queen, some horses, their castle, and these long skinny guys that have always looked like Muppets to me. Muppets throwing their heads back with deep emotion. These guys:
The whole object of the game is to kill the Queen. Or the King. I'm not sure which. One is more important than the other and it probably makes some statement about gender inequality in a monarchy. The pawns can't do much and the other pieces all have specific ways they can move and it's all very difficult to keep straight unless you practice a lot which would be horribly dull. 

There you have it. I don't even LIKE the game. When I told family and friends I was going to be teaching it, they EACH promptly retorted, "but you HATE strategy games!" Even my son said this. I disagreed. "I don't HATE them, exactly. I just prefer word games and acting-type games and things like tooth extractions and uncomfortable conflicts with perfect strangers in the grocery store."

Why am I teaching it? Because I like this co-op, and my kids' involvement in it -- and because they ASKED me to -- they didn't have a chess teacher lined up yet (why not? doesn't anyone else like it either? and if not -- why are they offering it?) and because I like a challenge. If I can teach chess to a bunch of middle-school-aged kids, I can do ANYTHING. 
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