Chess for Beginners

Mr S had taken C to a birthday party.  R had “made dinner” for himself and N, meaning he had put some turkey dinosaurs and oven chips (fries) on a baking tray.  They were in the oven and he had been instructed to find something to play with his little sister until it was time to put the peas in the microwave.  Mrs S was shamelessly and irresponsibly using those fifteen minutes to write.  It was peaceful.  

R came through to the kitchen to put the peas in a bowl.  

“What were you playing with N?” Mrs S asked as R sent peas skittering all over the table.  

“Well,” sighed R, “I wanted to play chess with her, but she wasn’t all that interested so I won quite easily.  And I even started with a really silly move so she would have a chance!”  

Later Mrs S told Mr S that it was sweet that R wanted to give his two-year-old sister a chance to beat him at chess.  Mr S just wanted to know what the silly move was, that R was convinced ceded all the natural advantage that four years, a basic grasp of the rules, and interest in the game confered. 

“Apparently he moved out the queen’s knight,” said Mrs S

Mr S seemed rather irritated that Mrs S did not know that this was not a silly move.  “There are recognised openings that use a knight,” Mrs S heard before completely glazing over.  Mr S is no Kasparov, but the first thing he bought with his own money, at the age of five, was a chess set and a book on how to play.   Now, Mrs S prides herself on being able to take an interest in anything.  Then along ccomes chess and shows her up as an intellectually lazy, strategically deficient stupid-head.  She is always tempted just to call the chess pieces horsies and castles, but Mr S has more than enough upset in his life just reading the coverage of the Greek situation, so she nodded periodically and tried to tweak the paragraphs she had written earlier in the evening while still looking attentive.  She didn’t feel guilty because she was fairly sure Mr S would know she wasn’t listening and wouldn’t be terribly offended so long as she tuned in again when he started talking about something else.  

Once upon a time Mr S thought it would be fun to teach Mrs S to play chess, but she wasn’t all that interested, so he won quite easily.  Then he commented that it would be really good fun to see how few pieces he would need to play with before it was a fair match.  And they have not played since.  But on the plus side they are still married.

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