Chess is a game I learned from my father. Chess was very common in Romania. Maybe you recall that the two best chess players in the world in the 80s were two Russians. Romania was never one of the Soviet Republics, but we were influenced by Russian culture to some extent, seeing that we had a long border with them.
And so lots of children learned chess from their parents. It was part of family time – a board game like any other. There were TV shows about it, too. One lady in particular, Elisabeta Polihroniade, appeared on the chess TV show and taught different moves and strategies. We thought she was cool.
Looking back on it, through the glasses of American culture, I can see how all that was very nerdy and geeky – for an American looking in. For us, it was just a way of life. Grandfathers played chess outside the condo buildings where we lived all the time. Sometimes passers-by would stop to watch the game and the next move.
I was surprised to learn that my husband did not even know how the pieces move in chess. I made it a point to teach my children the game starting two years ago. I played with my son more than with my daughter. He is older and showed more interest in it.
For the first time, last week, he beat me. He check mated me early on in the game and I did not see it coming. I was so surprised, I moved a bishop to protect my king, thinking that it was not check mate yet. In my haste to defend myself, I moved the bishop in the wrong way. My son went, “Ugh, mom, that’s not how the bishop moves…”
We both laughed hysterically. I was so proud of him. That’s what I want to see – that my kids go way beyond where I am in my skills whether it is chess, music, reading, technology or whatever.
If you don’t know yet, chess has surprising health benefits and they mostly have to do with the brain. Should you want to know where to start, you can always start with a book for chess beginners and a Google search for chess clubs nearby, unless you want to play online with others. Being a homeschooling parent, I would think that you might want to play with your children though. Have fun in your chess adventures!