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The Hardest Lesson.

Emperor after the awards ceremony in his division. He didn't even get a ribbon and is absolutely devastated. It's hard to compete with some of these folks. There was a *cute* little girl there who had just turned three and played some chess with Emperor and Elf. That's the kind of competition they were up against (yeah, she mixed up the knight's moves and stuff like that... but still). Some of these children have been playing for years, and Emperor could hardly expect to get the trophy this first time when the competition encompasses two states. Even Patrick, who finished first in a regional competition last week, did not make the top ten. I think, though, that Emperor had worked himself up into thinking that since Patrick is always coming home with medals that somehow the trophy was his... that's how the mind works when you're seven. It's a hard lesson to learn. Here's hoping that he sticks with the game and is able to make the improvements he'd need to move up his ranking next year. Elf was a little sad, but not like this. Elf was able to win a game and genuinely feel sad for the player who lost against him. Emperor did not get that opportunity this time.


  1. Can you please hug him for Auntie Claire? I teared up when I saw that picture. It will, however, make victory that much sweeter when it happens.

  2. Oh, poor thing. I hope he sticks to chess, too.

    Oh, I crashed my old blog, but I'm up and running again.


  3. Poor guy!! So does he still want to get back up on that horse??

  4. Oh that breaks my heart.

    This is one step in learning to have good sportsmanship.

    And let us not fall into that trap of thinking 'all participants in competitions are winners'. If everyone won, then winning would mean nothing.

    Still sad to see.

    My younger son (now almost 9 years old) came somewhere right in the middle yesterday at a district pinewood derby competition. After placing 2nd in the Pack it is not so easy to place in top 3 at a DISTRICT competition. Yet he didn't flinch. That is amazing as he truly used to feel hurt and then later on in time, would have poor sportsmanship. So happy that the child has learned to both win without being overly prideful and that he can lose without feeling crushed.

    Still it is hard to see a child with hurt feelings...

  5. oh! he looks so sad

    I send hugs

    I'm sure you found the words to comfort and instill something he'll be able to use and learn from but still ...

    my son used to take it to heart whenever he lost a ball game. sometimes he'd sit under a tree for a bit, he'd tell me he was telling the tree his "troubles"

  6. Claire, when I gave Emperor your hug, Elf insisted that *he* gets to give one, too. Awww.

    Allison, I'm so sad for you about your blog! I can't imagine how I'd feel if I lost mine. ALL my friends are here! :p

    Christine, I'm sure he'll be ok eventually. Honestly, he doesn't see other children very often and had no way of knowing his own abilities until we took this step. I think it was a great opportunity for him to learn that he doesn't always get to win. He came second-last in the whole tournament. I felt so badly for him, but the poor kid who came in last probably cried on the way home, too.

    I think it's good that he got to go through this, though it is hard now.

    Dianne, when I took that pic we were sitting RIGHT NEXT to the winner and her parents. Homeschoolers (I'm guessing from India?) who gave pointers on what to look at online that will help. Her dad said that she bombed her first tournament and that it's just like playing an instrument. It's training, just like a marathon or anything else. I don't think Emperor was really listening, but I know he *heard* and we'll be able to chat about this idea later.

    The little girl's older brother placed fifth in the k-12 division. He had to have been all of 11 years old. Dad says with homeschooling, you could raise a grandmaster if you really wanted to. LOL

    Well, I'll just be satisfied counting it as an elective and a fun thing to do that isn't extremely expensive and require lots of equipment.

    I will give him your hugs when he comes upstairs, thanks!

  7. I've been catching upon your posts, Mrs. C, and I must tell you, your work with your children is just awesome. I do not know how you do it all and maintain such a positive, happy sounding attitude. You never even sound tired!

  8. "Her dad said that she bombed her first tournament and that it's just like playing an instrument. It's training, just like a marathon or anything else."

    Talk about competitive, wow. And I don't mean the child. [shudder]

    Just for some different perspective --

    When Young Son was barely four, he was something of a chess whiz and a real Russian chess mistress living on campus here with her doctoral student husband, took a big interest in him, wanted to put him in tournaments because she said he had unusual raw talent etc. The problem was, he couldn't physically write a lick! To enter tournaments of the kind she wanted him in, you have to write down your moves in chess notation. He learned the notation mentally very quickly but the actual graphic production with pencil and paper, no way. Fine motor skills stood between him and chess glory! :)

    His stunned but proud dad actually started researching ivy league chess scholarships (we were both overachieving firstborns in school and infused with the win-or-lose world view imo.)

    But it was all for the best that his writing was delayed as it turned out, because by the time he COULD (theoretically -- we're radical unschoolers so we never tested this) write neatly under time pressure, his chess tutoring had ended and with it the focus on competition for ranking rather than each game for its own sake, all the little interlocking puzzles within it that so fascinated him. He's 13 now and the clock still means almost nothing to him, he runs on Young Son Time, grin -- so tournament time pressure on each move probably would have ruined chess as he enjoys it.

    Marathons and music are the same (not) training and (not) competition for him. He takes long solitary walks most days but only because he chooses to and enjoys it in his own way, not for speed, fitness, training for competition, imposed virtue or because I throw him out of the house the way adults threw us outside when I was a kid! :)

    Sorry to be long-winded but just to finish up, now he plays a musical instrument that can be played in competition solo or in a band and he practices his head off, absolutely loves it but not because he wants to enter or win any competition, or get better than other pipers. . . he loves the music and loves making it, period.

    It's really a whole different perspective from how I was brought up and schooled, so I haven't taught it to my kids at all; they've taught me.

    You can't know when they are four or seven, what life lessons THEY will teach YOU if you're still able to learn. Seems to me great home education parenting is not a competitive sport, ideally combining the best of chess and music, as a marathon we finish triumphantly despite not training for it!

  9. Anya, trust me, I get tired plenty! I just blog mostly good days. :]

    JJ, I don't think I could push Emperor too very hard and have it work, but the kids in the winning family *do* seem to enjoy it. I told the dad at least it isn't beauty pageants because his kid would look silly as a blonde! He laughed, esp. at the com-fuzzled look on his daughter's face about "beauty pageants." Her dad says she can be a tomboy forever. :]

    Patrick has done tournaments on his own for "fun." He even studies the moves of the masters, makes the notations and all that stuff. He *likes* that stuff, so it does rub off on the children.

    I want to get Elf and Emperor out there and DOING something with the other children around and this I think is something they could get pretty good at. I have no chess-master ambitions though LOL. Just a Saturday hanging out with other kids and playing against them in friendly battles, I think is cool.

    I think the balance lies between pushing with a BIG push and giving a little push to a reluctant kid who is just a bit hesitant, but would probably enjoy the activity.

  10. Honestly, does that look like friendly enjoyment of an "elective" to you? Of course it's not what the winner's dad or you as the loser's mom think or feel -- what matters most is how the kids are experiencing it and what those feelings will do to their enjoyment not just of "chess" but of friends, peers (and parental guidance?) that I always worried most about.

  11. Losing is never fun. But never having a clear winner and loser is even worse in my opinion. I hate that is the way sports are going.

    I think that when you lose you can see where you need to improve and work on that. Hopefully he will do better next year and not get to discouraged.

    You can tell him that Brown Bear has not placed in the grand champion division yet, for karate, and this was his second year to try. He finally placed fifth and brought home a trophy. But he wants to place 3rd or above for that BIG one.

  12. Awww the poor wee man! Tell him if he was playing against me he would WIN every time! I am hopeless at chess.

  13. That's certainly a hard lesson.

    Keep it up, Emperor. We all lose at times, but with hard work and perseverance you can do the things you need to do.


  14. JJ, I agree he had a pretty crummy afternoon. It was tough for him. I think he had built himself up that he would win, poor guy.

    Zimms, I agree, though I do think that displaying everyone's rankings first to LAST is pretty tough to see publicly. He isn't of an age to notice that, yet.

    Chris, I'm too jumpy to be a serious player. I always get greedy and lose pieces when I fall into traps!

    Thank you, Urban School Teacher. I hope he continues the games. I think if he is more realistic in his hopes he will have a LOT more fun next time. That was some pretty cutthroat competition.

    Luke, I will give him your best. Actually I will call him up right now and chat with him about the comments. :]

  15. Awww, Hugs to Emperor. I am a grown up and I don't like losing.

    I always tell the boys there are things they are not going to win and it will be for enjoyment only, and there are things that they will win at.

    It also wouldn't be fair to win everything all the time. People wouldn't want to compete with you then.

    Hope Emperor still plays though.


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