The family seen by a chess player


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The boys have been playing chess a lot lately. In fact, I was surprised at how well they got into it. The older two will play literally a dozen times a day and will always want me to play against them when I get home.

I am a fan of chess because it is a calm game that requires logic and teaches patience. He also, in theory, teaches sportsmanship, although this has not always been found to be true. Apparently, Grandpa’s cross-board trashy talk and endzone-worthy celebration dances are hereditary. So much for chess being a silent game.

Anyway, as the boys learned the different chess pieces, I started to realize that there was a neat correspondence between the chess pieces and the family.

The king. A man’s house is his castle, right? In chess, the king is the leader and gives the impetus to the game to be played. If the king is captured, the game is over. Of course, the king has extremely limited powers to interact with other rooms and there is nothing sadder than a lone king facing the enemy on the board all by himself. Same, man.

The Queen. The queen is by far the most proficient piece in chess. The mother is by far the most competent member of the household. Protecting the Queen and her power is of vital importance. It is no coincidence that the queen is the most likely piece to checkmate the king. The queen is also very pretty, selfless, intelligent and cooks an excellent roast.

The Tower (or Castle). These two pieces flank each end of the chessboard. They work well on their own and are usually a part of any good defense or attack. In our house, they are the two older boys (8 and 6 years old). They set the tone for the younger ones and, like the humble-looking tower, surprised us with their ability to aid in the operations of our little kingdom.

The Bishop. These coins start near the King and Queen, and for good reason. Although they have a good range, they are easily overloaded and have to work with others to get things done. They are somewhat one-dimensional. The 5-year-old is the bishop of our family.

The Knight (or Horse). When evaluating chess pieces, the bishop and the knight receive the same point value (3). This is because the knight has a unique chess movement which can be of great benefit, but also makes it ineffective and a danger to himself if used alone. You don’t want your knight to make one-sided decisions. The knight is our 3 year old child. The knight is all 3 years old.

The pawn. These simple pieces (fun fact: technically they’re not pieces and are simply called pawns) sprawl across the first row of the board. They seem helpless and need a lot of help. The 18 month old boy is the same.

However, if a pawn crosses the entire board to the opponent’s back row, it is “promoted” to one of the other chess players. It’s a bit like growing up. Which means pawns are actually an important part of the game if you’re playing them for the long haul.

And you thought chess was for morons.

Harris and his wife live in Pflugerville with their five sons. Please send your comments or suggestions for future columns to [email protected]

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