Thursday, March 15, 2012


I played chess with my two-year-old daughter yesterday. Before you think I’m raising the next Bobby Fischer, I should let you know that she is only aware of the game’s existence because her older brother plays. She also has her own set of rules, which makes for an exciting and interesting challenge.

We began by setting up the pieces. Now, I’m no chess purist; I really don’t mind if someone calls the rook a castle, and it does not even bother me that much if someone refers to knights as horses. However, my daughter’s naming system raised some eyebrows.

First we set up the “babies” (pawns) in the front row. I like to think I’m open minded, but I think something is wrong with using babies as the first line of defense against attacking hordes. This is chess, not France. Then we set up the back row, with the aforementioned castles and horsies. Next came the fighter jets. I’m not sure how a bishop can be thought to look like a fighter jet, but it really does make the piece sound far more exciting. Last came the princesses. Yes, princesses. My daughter insisted the King and Queen both shed their royal titles and become female. She might be on to something though, as I can think of far more reasons to chase a princess around the board than to chase a slow-moving king.

Once that was accomplished, we began playing. At first, my daughter’s strategy was fairly simple: she did whatever I did. But after a few moves, she grew tired of copying me and started making more unconventional moves. Imagine my surprise when her rook left its home in the back row behind a pawn, leaping across the board diagonally to take out my queen—or princess if you prefer.

Then she increased the pressure by moving several times in succession. It makes it difficult to formulate a strategy when your opponent can move three different pieces into position before you get a chance to respond. I attempted to counter her moves, but the body count was increasing quickly on my side of the board.

Finally came the coup de grace. My two-year-old girl grabbed my king (the other princess) and moved it directly off the board to the pile of captured pieces. Apparently my pieces were now abdicating. Enjoying my surprised response to this move, my daughter proceeded to remove the rest of my pieces in turn, while I watched them pile up like bodies during a medieval plague outbreak. 

The end came quickly and mercifully when my last baby stepped off the board to join its infant kin, and my daughter declared herself the victor by reaching across the board, saying, “Good game, Daddy.”

Even though I was bested by this out-of-the-box strategic mastermind, I can’t wait to play her again. I’m interested to see what she comes up with next.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very impressed with Emily imagination but knowing she's following her brothers she has to make a stand for herself. Way to go Emily, my little princess!