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Check Mate

Warning: this blog post is one big kvell-fest. Don’t know what that means? Ask a Jewish mother.

Ethan recently joined the Chess Club at his school. He had asked me to sign him up because he knew a couple of his friends were in it. Considering his amazing brain and his penchant for strategy games, I figured it would be a safe bet signing him up. My father happened to have visited the weekend before Ethan’s first Chess Club meeting, and taught him the basics. It was Ethan’s first exposure to chess, and they played for at least an hour. Ethan was hooked.

Since then, Ethan has been to two Chess Club meetings. Today, I received an email from the head of the program, Coach Jay:

I just wanted to let you know that Ethan is a shining star in my chess class! He is a quick and eager learner and I think that he could play in the State Kinder-1st Grade Championship in Irvine on Sunday, March 20th and hold his own just fine.

He said that Ethan was welcome to join the open chess meeting this evening. You basically drop off your child to play chess (for free!) for two hours. There is also an open chess meeting at a local pizza place on Mondays (not for dropping off).

Holy wow. I read the email and called Jack. Okay, I actually called my father first. After all, he introduced Ethan to chess. As soon as Jack got home Ethan and I hightailed it out of the house. On the way, I asked him to tell me a little about chess. He talked about how each piece can move, and then he said:

“Mommy, did you know that when you say ‘Check Mate,’ it pretty much means, ‘I win and you lose?’”
“I did know that, Ethan.”
“Hmmm… I wonder… if you say ‘Mate Check,’ does that mean, ‘You win and I lose?’”

Ha ha ha! I love this kid to pieces!

So we get to the open chess place, and Ethan, not giving me a backwards glance, goes and sits down with a first-grader and starts playing. I met Coach Jay and thanked him for his email. He asked me how much Ethan played before joining the club. When I answered him, he shook his head in disbelief. “He has the ability to see the whole board when considering strategy, and that isn’t an easy concept to grasp.”

I tried to say goodbye to Ethan, but I doubt he heard me. He was already engrossed. I came home and immediately registered him for the Championship, emailing Coach Jay to let him know.

When Jack left to go pick him up, I got a reply from Coach Jay:

I took off early tonight to let Coach Paul finish up, but not before I got a chance to see Ethan in action! He worked on tonight’s worksheet and did really well on it. I hope he can play a ton of games over the next couple of weeks – it will really help.

Coach Jay

P.S. The email I sent to you was the only unsolicited one that I sent out to any parents this semester regarding the skills of the child. I teach 700 kids.

Whoa. Whoa. That floored me. Coach Jay teaches K through 6th grade.


One Comment

  1. ann mahoney says:

    Looks like the perfect match, Ethan and chess. Way impressive, mom.