Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Clubbing, Chess Style

Last year, my older boys got very into chess. They played every day, competed at tournaments, won a few trophies. Like I said, they were very into chess.

I took away two main things from this.

First, chess parents are crazy. Just go watch "Finding Bobby Fischer" to know how crazy. I was shocked by the intensity that popped up at our small, local Iowa tournaments.

Second, I knew I needed to encourage my boys' love of chess. It has helped Monkey focus and sit still for a few minutes at a time. It has helped Bug be more confident. Neither of my boys have shown any interest in competitive sports, so having them learn sportsmanship through chess was a good thing.

Most of the schools in our area have chess clubs. Our elementary school was the exception.

When decided how serious I was about encouraging my children to continue to play chess, I decided I was pretty serious. Not hire a private chess tutor and force them to give up everything else to play chess serious, just pretty serious.

So now, apparently, I run our elementary school chess club.

Sometimes I wasn't exactly sure why I decided I didn't have enough to do, that my schedules weren't busy enough, or that I was remotely qualified to do this.

I especially started questioning my credentials (which consist of somewhat knowing the rules and enjoying watching my kids play) when several parents asked if they could come to chess club and learn how to play as well.

The first week of chess club, about 15 students showed up. The second week, 25 students showed up.  That's 25 kindergarten through 6th graders, just finishing a school day. It's just as chaotic and loud as you might imagine.

Luckily, there are been wonderful parent volunteers. Between all of us, we are able to get the kids to listen to a brief chess lesson, then pair up and play.

I questioned my sanity when I first started. Now, all I'm questioning is why I didn't do this a long time ago.

I love chess club.

The one hour a week is not overwhelming. I'm meeting parents and students and actually, finally, getting involved.

It's fun to watch the students learn chess and to learn it right along with them (since I read up on my chess lessons in the few hours before we meet.)

This winter, my boys and I will be back to sitting in middle school cafeterias, participating in chess tournaments. This year, we're hoping to be joined by a few of our friends.


  1. That is AWESOME! I love this so much! Having been a bit of a chess nerd (with no trophies to prove it, sadly), I just love that you're getting your boys into this and that you basically started up the club.

  2. How exciting! I don't know a darn thing about chess, so I'd be in big trouble. But I love that they have the tournaments in middle school cafeterias. I pictured them being in big auditoriums somewhere.