This is why you should not play chess with your kids…

“Hey Mummy, do you want to play chess with me? I can teach you!” he said. “Uhhh, sure bud, but you will have to explain it all to me ok?” Excitedly, he set up his new board, naming each piece as he set it down. “I will be giving you two lessons” he said. “How to move and the second lesson is how to attack.”

Oooook, I thought, admittedly more than a bit concerned. As great as it would be for him, the weirdly competitive part of me was not down with being beaten at chess by a 7 year old, my kid or not. I know, a good mummy that does not make me, but I just can’t quite get behind the idea of getting beaten by a kid. In our house we don’t normally throw games to pad egos and although he assured me over and over that he would take it easy on me “because he didn’t want me to feel bad”, I didn’t want him to throw the game for me!


He got the board all set up and declared that he would be white so he could start. He went through and showed me how each piece could move, explaining as he went down “So, the knight can make an L shape. And the rook can zoom in a straight line forward as far as he wants and sideways as far as he wants. And this is a pawn. He can move forward one space. Except on his first move. Then he can move twice.”

Ok. I can do this, I say to myself. “Mummy, it’s your turn”. Crap. What did he do? What should I do? I don’t know what to do. A pawn. I can move a pawn. One step forward. Or was it two? Yeah. I remember hearing two somewhere, so let’s move two spaces. “Good job!” he exclaims. He makes his move. Something about a bishop. Or a horse. Or a… wait, what did he just do there?  How did he get so close to my guys? I better do something to keep him from getting any closer. I grab a pawn and move it ahead two squares. That’ll work. It should keep him back from my horsey thing. And my king. And queen. Ok, now what will he… “Mummy, you can’t move your pawn two spaces!” he laughs. “But I thought you said the pawn could move two!” I say. “Nope, just one” my husband confirms. “Let me help you. I will be the Belichick to your Brady. You and I, working together, we can beat him.” Like I said, we are not a competitive family at all. Ha.

I shouldn’t be embarrassed to have help from my husband. He actually knows how to… Oh geez. Did he just grab my… Yup, there goes a pawn. Stupid pawn. I don’t need him anyways. Aha. I can just take that one with my pawn. Just let me…

“Mummy, you can’t do that! Remember, only one space is how many you can move your pawn.” Seriously? But I thought that, oh crap, I just said that out loud, didn’t I? Cue hysterical laughter from the child. The game keeps going, with me clarifying names and moves with Q, getting strategy help from my husband, much to the amusement of both of them, and still not figuring it out. In a moment of frustration, I *may* have yelled out “BUT I THOUGHT THE PAWN COULD MOVE TWO SPACES IN A TURN!!!” much to the amusement of both guys.

“Don’t worry Mummy, I told you I would take it easy on you.” Q tells me. I tell him to please go full out and not go easy on me. Thankfully he agrees. I think. “Ok Mummy. Just move your pawn here like this. Or you could zoom your rook here. Or your vishop. You could move him too. Watch out for me to take your queen though! Haha, I got your pawn”

The game continues like this for a while, trading piece for piece, with each of us collecting a nice variety of pieces on our sides of the board. “I have you in check!” he tells me excitedly. Do I know what that means? I look to my husband – “it means you can’t move. You need to move to block him.” “Haha!” Q exclaims. After some zooming down the board and some more pawn trading, I now have Q in check. I think. Until he fixes that.

It’s getting down to the wire. I will admit, I’m feeling a bit stressed. What if he actually does beat me? Be confident. You can do this. Just listen to your coach and don’t screw up. You got this. You can take this kid down. Oh goodness, listen to yourself Brandee. This is your kid you are playing against. He is 7. On the other hand, he is your kid and will likely never let you live it down if he does win. Beat him. If you can. 

“Watch yourself B. He is blocking you and you won’t be able to get away soon. Actually, move that rook to the end of the board. Good, you’ve got him on the run.” “Mummy, I just took your knight!” “Do you mean the horse?” I ask? “Yup!” Q replies cheerfully. “Hang on. I see a move!” my husband says. “Just move that piece there and you have him in checkmate.”

Yes, yes, yes! I win. I almost lost but I won. Woohoo! I can do this chess thing. 

“Way to go Mummy! I almost had you there but you got me.”

“Only because I had Daddy’s help bud. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to beat you. You did great and were a great teacher. Thank you!”

“Want to play again?”

Again? Oh no! I can’t rely on M to keep helping me forever but I cannot figure out which pieces move where! This kid is smarter than me and this game sucks. Who wants to learn chess anyways. Not me. Apparently I am too dumb for chess. I know, we’ll blame the meds. Yeah, that’s it. It’s not me, it’s the pain medication’s fault that I cannot figure out how many spots the pawn can move. Is it one or two? Why only on a certain move? I’m so confused…

“Oh, thank you bud, but I think I need to take a break. Why don’t you play Daddy?”

“Sure! Let’s play, Daddy!” I breathe a sigh of relief, maybe a bit too loudly. More laughter ensues.

I think I need to buy myself a chess for dummies book or I’m never going to be able to beat him. Oh man. Friends, I beg of you. Learn from me. This is why you should not play chess with your kids, and most certainly not let them teach you. It will be a recipe for hurt egos (yours), bruised pride (yours again), and probably some embarrassment too (you guessed it, all you baby). Please join me in my time of humiliation and assure me I’m not alone? Please? 

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