Who knew it was pretty much an all-boy thing? I didn't.
Elf and Emperor have been looking forward to this for months! They play at least one game a day and sometimes do puzzles online. So, I would never classify them as *serious* players, but the chessboard isn't gathering dust, either.
We're meeting up with some serious players. Is it just me, or are the suuuuper-serious players all homeschoolers? My goodness. We're playing with a kid who was kindergarten state champion and his older brother. They don't just play chess, they understand notation and have memorized chess scenarios by name. Wow, I'm a slacker homeschool mom. But they're extremely nice, polite folks and you just can't help but like them even if they do beat you every time.
We're a bit more evenly matched with the public school kids who are there just because they want to be. They're not serious players, but are going for the fun of the game.
One of them in particular seems to be very friendly with Elf. He looks - I swear - EXACTLY like Frodo in Lord of the Rings movies. Well, if he were a bit younger and rounder, anyway. I keep looking at him sideways, tempted to call, "Frodo!" and see if he answers. Really. If they ever do casting for "little Frodo," it would be a shame if he didn't audition. "Frodo" is a rather talkative and friendly fella and he and Elf have fallen into the habit of playing games together during "free" play time (as opposed to tournament game time).
They have innnteresting conversations. Here's one that happened after Frodo tried moving his rook diagonally last game:
"Um, you can't do that," Elf corrected him. "That's a rook."
"Yeah, I know," Frodo told him. "But did you know that the queen is really just a rook?"
"No, it isn't. It's a completely different piece!" Elf is pointing at the queen as if that would settle it.
Frodo picked up the queen and held it next to the rook. "No. The queen is just what the rook looks like after she gets plastic surgery and gets some boo-tayyy."
"Well, the rook can only move *this* way, so you'll have to pick another move." I think the boo-tayyy comment went right over his head. Just as well.
And another conversation:
"Where do you go to school at?" Frodo wanted to know.
"I do not go to school," Elf said crisply. "I am home EDUCATED."
"Oh," Frodo's brow rumpled. "Then you can never have a school team. You should totally go to (Junior High Name) with me. The KNIGHTS. We kick ass in chess club. KNIGHTS RULE!" Whereupon he tugs on his nearby friends. They get the "hint" and give him a high five.
Poor Emperor, though. He's not making friends there very easily at all. He is losing EVERY game. I know some of the younger players (he gets matched with them because he would be in third grade in ps) are the more serious, committed players... but much of his trouble comes from a lack of seriousness about the game. He jumps and moves at the same time. He isn't thinking strategically or stopping to consider that the other person ALSO has a strategy to win. I think the crowning blow was when he got beaten by the chess league teacher's five-year-old daughter. Who is too young for kindergarten this year.
Awww. Poor fella. But see, she is concentrating on the board. She goes to tournaments. She does workbooks on chess moves. I told him it's ok... he is learning and he's there to have a great time at the same time. I think this is a good experience for him on the whole, though, even if it is hard for him. He probably needs a few more weeks to get the hang of it.
But Elf? Surprisingly, he has a little peer group there. I think he doesn't understand about half of what they're talking about, though, but they seem friendly enough.