How My Son’s Love of Chess “Infected” The Entire Family

When my son entered kindergarten, I didn’t want his afternoons to be idle at after-school care. Instead, I wanted him to be challenged both physically and intellectually. Fortunately, his elementary school had many enrichment programs, so I signed up for chess, along with flag football and LEGO engineering, at school.

“Chess for 5 year olds?“ My husband was quite suspicious when I first proposed it. I consulted a colleague, who was a former school teacher. She told me to always encourage my kids try something new but don’t push them to continue if they don’t like it. I took her advice and began my son’s love affair with chess.

In our home, chess has become a central theme in our day-to-day lives. A typical father-son evening would be spent watching game recaps of the defending champion Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen at the FIDE World Chess Championship in Chennai. My husband, in order to keep up with his constantly-improving son, has to watch chess videos over lunch breaks. On long road trips and late at night, I would solve chess puzzles. The most adorable moment came a few weeks ago when my 6 year-old son started teaching his 3-year-old brother on how different pieces move.

About once every 2 months, my husband takes our son to a tournament to compete with other kids. My son always has a great time where he can spend all day playing chess. I stay home with our younger son and rely on my husband’s iMessages to give me live blog-style updates. No matter if he wins or loses, he runs to his dad after each round with the biggest smile on his face.

I am grateful that my son has found a hobby that will hopefully turn into a lifelong passion. His chess instructor told me that he had the potential to be one of the greats. However, he’s only 6 and doesn’t like to memorize opening theories and jot down his moves, but he has that raw talent we can nurture! I can’t wait to see whether my 3-year-old shares his brother’s passion for the King’s Game.