This week was something of a milestone in Dunsworth family kid development. I actually had to THINK to beat Josh, my oldest son, at chess. I’ll still be pulverizing his pawns, bashing his bishops, and sending his kings to kingdom come for the foreseeable future, but I’ll have to stay sober, awake, and somewhat focused to do so. I realize that this doesn’t seem like much, but let me boast a bit.
I am rather good at chess. I was the best player on my high school team, and I used to play in tournaments regularly. If I hadn’t gotten married, I would probably have become a master. (Chess and marriage are notoriously incompatible. Chess and vodka seem to mix much better.) I even beat a guy named Robert Fischer once. He wasn’t THE Bobby Fischer, but hey, I can brag, right?
Anyhow, when you play a game with kids, what is the best way to do it, if the skill level between you and them is different? Pounding on them mercilessly doesn’t seem best, so with chess, I usually give up several pieces to try to make the game equal. Then I can play well but give my kids a fair chance.
In the Oriental game of Go, there is a built in handicap system. If two players are rated, the better player can give the weaker player a head start of one or more stones, so the game will be competitive.