Three weeks ago my 11 year old son watched while I played computer chess on the flight home from vacation. The next night he asked me to show him how to play so I got out my laptop and taught him how to play and gave him tips while he played the computer. Same next night and after he told me he wanted to play me on a game board the next day. Pretty much every day since then we have played one game. I would always give him tips as we play and let him take back moves.
Last weekend I concluded he knack for the game. He had his friend over who happens to be more than two years older than he is. As usual they were non stop on the video games which drives me crazy. I suggested they play chess and the other boy was all for it. My son didn’t want to and I suspected he was afraid of loosing to his friend. Anyway, the boy wanted to play so I ended up playing him. He knew all the moves and he was pretty careful but there was something missing from his game. I felt I could do whatever I wanted to with no worry of anything he was doing. Playing my son, I know I’m in complete control but also have the sense I need to be careful because he is working at things. He has strategy.
Last night we played our daily game and as usual I gave him tips and hints and let him take back moves but this time he beats me! I congratulated him AND informed him I wouldn’t be helping him anymore when we play.
That brings us to our game this morning. I bring out my king pawn he brings out his king pawn. I bring out a knight he brings out something else NOT protecting his pawn, so I take it with the knight. He brings up his queen pawn threatening my knight. In this situation I would normally retreat, saving the knight. I’m playing a kid though so I am emboldened. I take the knight pawn by the king. The net on this is I give up my knight for two pawns but I also open a nice hole in front of his king and he loses his ability to castle because he has to use his king to take my knight.
The strategy paid off because a few moves later I had his queen pinned behind his king in check and he had to give her up. Unfortunately, a few moves after that I got sloppy and lost my queen. No problem I thought. In total count I was up by one pawn, I had two pawns controlling the center of the board, my king was safely castled and I’m the freaking adult.
A few moves later I’m threatening a bishop with a knight and he moves a pawn one square on the other side of the board. It seemed to me like a move he was making because he really didn’t know what to move. I thought he missed that his bishop would be lost and I couldn’t help but go back on my word and I said “look, are you sure you want to do that?” while pointing at the piece in jeopardy. He said yes and I thought he was just being noble by not accepting my help.
As I’m sure you guessed at this point, he had me in checkmate a couple moves later. Just over three weeks after learning to play and his first game with no help. Already a master of the sacrifice. Pretty cool.