Sunday, June 29, 2008

Harvard Square Chess

I wrote this a month ago but forgot to post it:

Leave it to a scheming chess dad to figure out a way to squeeze some chess into a family vacation. This time, the wedding of my college roommate (congratulations Joe and Trish!), afforded us an opportunity to pass through Boston and Cambridge. This was the first time I've been to Cambridge since I left in 1995 and I was pleased to know that aside from some cosmetic changes and rotation of stores in Harvard Square, the general atmosphere is exactly as I remembered it. I have fond memories of playing chess with Murray the "Chess Master" in front of Au Bon Pain as student and I was eager to stop by and say hello, only discover that he wasn't around. There were plenty of other chess players around, though, so it wasn't a total loss. Richie and I played a game there (which drew some bemused looks) while we waited for Dee to wrap up her souvenir shopping. As fortune would have it, we had to make a second pass through the Square on our way home a couple of days later because Dee needed to exchange some items she picked up from the Coop and this time Murray was camped out at his usual table, looking pretty much the same as he did 13 years ago. This time I had Richie take a 15 minute chess lesson with Murray and played a game with him myself (I lost). Richie's lesson consisted of a short game where he got checkmated quickly and then a review of several opening options. The vocabulary was well over his head which probably meant very little of it made sense to him, but he was attentive and surprisingly unintimidated by the experience. I suppose he's gotten somewhat accustomed to playing chess with strangers and with adults, so I guess an adult stranger isn't really much of a leap.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer Doldrums

The local chess tournaments have ended for the year. They'll restart next academic year but it looks like there will be fewer opportunities for the kids to play this summer. This may be a good thing because lately, Richie has shown more interest in non-chess activities. I think his loss of interest coincided with his growing interest in video games (we've had a game system for awhile but only recently has he started playing it much). With respect to chess I fear that it got a little too easy for him to win trophies so he's not really motivated to find better ways of playing. I suppose the novelty has worn off a bit too. Alyssa actually has come around to chess and still enjoys solving mate-in-N problems (and prefers puzzles to actual games).

They'll be spending around 6 weeks in Thailand this summer with my wife so that's going to be a natural break for them. I plan to set them up Yahoo accounts so I can play with them over the internet but I don't know if they'll actually do it.
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