Saturday, 9 November 2013

Raks and Chess

Chess is an approved game that most tambrahms love to teach their kids. And why wouldn't they? After all Vishy Anand is from the same fold.

So while we were debating between  Karate and a Taekwondo class (apparently taught by authentic Japanese and Korean masters and not by the local Munnuswamy), I bought a game of Chess for Raks. 

To own the truth, I didn't want to buy yet another barbie set. I mean we already have the barbie baby toilet set complete with a potty that made realistic flush sounds and the barbie hair set with a large set of brush, comb and whatnot in various sizes. And I was sick of discovering the myriad pieces of the set from different unexpected corners of the house. So I successfully maneuvered her from the barbie corner and brought to the board games section. She was sulking of course, and then I mentioned the word 'Chess'.

Me: It is a game between two kings and two queens

Raks: Ok. So I get to be the queen. Can I have that fairy set of tiara, wand and stuff?

Me: No. Fairy sets are all for small kids. You are a big girl now, aren't you? You are in PP2 (UKG) right?

My words almost had a miraculous effect on Rak's face and she brought on that cute 'I am mature' look and didn't say a word when I took the chess kit out.

Feeling great about choosing brain over barbie, we came home. And the chess lessons began. My husband was excited too. He immediately googled out chess academies in Mylapore and came up with Vishy  Anand related trivia every now and then.

Raks was excited too. She thought that you will have to dress up like king and queen to play this game. So one night, we took out the board and set up the coins. And I taught her the basic moves. She was quite taken by the fact that the queen can move anywhere in any direction and loved the fact that the horse can jump over.

Trouble began when I showed her how to attack the pawn and took her bishop. The next instant both sets of grandparents descended on me trying to ascertain why their dear granddaughter was crying. That's it. I kept the game back on the shelf and started googling 'Karate lessons in mylapore'.

But she didn't forget it so easily. So one morning while I was busy with dusting, moping, cleaning and washing clothes (Exercise program charted out by my domestic maid who takes a week's vacation almost every month), she pestered me for chess again. So I gave her the box and went about my work.

She promptly set it up on her grandfather's bed while he was busy reading up the newspaper. 

Raks: Thatha, this is a serious game. You can keep the paper down and read this paper and you will know all about chess.

Thatha: No. I don't know how to play chess. You will need to play with your mother.

Raks: I will teach you. First you will need to look serious. See, like this.... 

She contorted her face and gazed with her steely eyes at her grandfather.

Raks: And then you will need to think deeply. See, like this...

She imitated the look of a thinking man with that cute serious look on her face. And I tried to keep a straight face...

Raks: Now I will tell you about these guys. This is a soldier, this is a bishop, this is the horse. He can go like this.

Her version of the horse's move almost resembled those of the dragon from Harry Potter movie.

Raks: Next this is the queen. She can move anywhere just like paati.

And then she had an epiphany. 

Raks: You know what, you are just like the king in the chess. You let paati do all the work.

He was probably miffed for stating the obvious.

Thatha: Then play with your paati.

Raks: No. I want to play with you.

I played the knight in shining armour and rescued him by handing over the ipad with the new puzzle game downloaded just for her.

Thatha: You know there is a huge chess tournament happening in chennai between two great grandmasters. If you learn the game well, you might one day become a grand master and earn millions.

Raks: Then I will  buy Barbie Hair studio sets with the millions and work on your hair.

I give up.