Our six-year-old son Gus plays chess. He’s a genius. On Saturday April 24th we took him to the Arizona State Chess Championships at the Holiday Inn Palo Verde in Tucson where we came up against a thousand other geniuses.
He lost his first game. Between that game and the second, he found his nemesis – a boy we’ll call Sam – outside by the pool. Sam had previously beaten Gus in a game that lasted over an hour (why someone didn’t stop it we don’t know, though Roberta was hauled away after trying). Now they had an impromptu game on the grass and Gus suddenly found himself the winner.
Back inside, we anxiously tried not to watch his second game. It was over fast. “How was it?” we asked as Gus approached us, pokerfaced. “Piece of cake,” he said. Confidence is everything.
On the way home, after consulting his teacher, Lev Altounian, on proper motivational techniques, we caught ourselves promising our boy things even Santa never brings – the Lego Death Star – if he won his games the next day.
Sunday, it was Tension City. He won only the first of three games. The final was an epic battle, with Gus calling in the referee to spiritedly contest his opponent’s touch-move of his rook. Pure Bobby Fisher.
Afterward, we tried to soothe him with early American sportswriter Grantland Rice’s famous poem:
For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name
He marks – not that you won or lost –
But how you played the game.
Gus just grinned, “Do I still get the Death Star?”