5 Reasons To Play Chess With Your Child

September 15, 2012 at 11:48 pm , by 

21 months.

I predict that the classic game of chess is about to get real relevant in American pop culture, especially for children.

The book Microtrends explains that as a norm is established in modern society, a complimentary archaic version of that trend begins to surface to counter it.

Some of us, who don’t have nor want Internet on our phones, want to further unplug our lives from all the collective over-stimulation.

Therefore, chess is officially becoming cool. And it’s perfect for kids, despite any preconceived ideas you might have about it being as difficult as a child having to memorize their multiplication tables.

I can’t play Angry Birds nor can I tweet about a boring day at any given moment because I’m part of the counterculture of Generation Y that doesn’t have Internet on my phone, but I can find organic entertainment by pulling out my chess set with someone who is cool enough to play it with me.

It used to be that chess was a game for nerds and Russians, thanks to that “lucky beret” episode ofSaved By The Bell from 1991 entitled “Check Your Mate.”

Well, look at me: I’m not a nerd and I’m definitely not Russian. So let me tell you my 5 reasons to play chess with your child. Chess promotes the following:

1. Uninterrupted quality time: Turn off the TV. Put your phone on silent. Make a chess date with your child. The game of chess has been around for centuries, and once you begin to play it, you catch a sense of simpler, yet still challenging times. Playing chess with your child gives you legitimate and yet nonchalant excuse to make time for your child.

2. Good conversations and laughter. I promise, chess leads to interesting conversations as well as unsuspecting humor. The game causes a person to interact with another human being in an activity with endless possibilities of how the winner will win, unlike many “roll the dice because it’s really just about chance anyway” types of predictable board games.

3. Problem-solving skills. A Kindergartner can definitely learn how to play chess and have fun doing it. I think the key to making this happen is just a willing parent inviting a child to play.

The game of chess forces its players to multi-task, plan ahead, and making real-time executive decisions. Chess disciplines the mind, which I say is ideal for children, as they are constantly yearning for fun new ways to be challenged..

4. Cheap, easy entertainment. Depending on whether the chess pieces are made from plastic, glass, or wood, you’ll probably spend somewhere from 9 to 30 bucks on a decent set. That’s not bad at all considering the monthly prices of satellite TV, which in the process of entertaining a family, often mutes out real communication between its members.

5.  Healthy, addicting habit. The best kind of habit you can help create for your child is one that encourages a bond between the two of you. Whether you’re a mom or a dad and whether your child is a boy or a girl, I believe that if you play a nightly or weekly game of chess with them, your kid will feel pretty darn special.

My own son isn’t even 2 years-old yet, so I still have a couple of years before chess can become “our thing” together. But for those parents whose kid is a little bit older, I invite you to take the “chess challenge.”

Become your child’s chess partner and see what grows of it. And remember, chess isn’t for nerds anymore! It’s for cool parents and cool kids.

Top image: Boy looking at a piece of chess, via Shutterstock.

Bottom image: Father and son playing chess, via Shutterstock.

Advertisements

Why Chess Is Good For Boys Who Like Violent Shooter Video Games

September 15, 2012 at 11:35 pm , by 

21 months.

Back in April, I chose to become involved in a “Big Brother” type of program called Men Of Valor; a program to mentor children whose fathers are incarcerated.

I was matched with a 15 year-old boy who was known for keeping to himself and playing “shoot-’em-up” video games online.

For those first couple of one-on-one meetings I had with him, I really didn’t know what to do.

But then he told me he was considering becoming a sniper in the military.

Coincidentally, I had just finished a book called MicroTrends, which had a chapter called “Aspiring Snipers,” explaining how the the popularity of shooter games like Halo and Call of Duty have spiked a trend in high school boys surveyed, saying that they are interested in becoming US military snipers when they graduate high school.

I racked my brain on how I could use his interest in shooter games and his inspiration to become a US military sniper as ways for us two to get to know each other better.

Then I thought back to a classic game in which I have been looking for a good partner for years: Chess!

In chess, you can use pieces like the queen, the bishop, and the rook to “snipe” the other player from the other side of the board.

Essentially, those pieces are best used after you have distracted your opponent with a threat on one side of the chess board, then in the likeness of a sniper, you slide in from the other side and take out one of the player’s pieces.

I began thinking, “Aspiring snipersshould play chess.” I’m now convinced that chess is indeed the most archaic version of today’s online shooter games.

So every other Thursday, I pick him up to take him out for a Frappuccino at Starbucks and we play our 3 chess matches.

It took him about 7 or 8 chess matches to finally beat me for the first time. Like I told him, I wasn’t going to let him win nor would I go easy on him at all.

But as of our last meeting a few days ago, it was the first time in 3 matches that I finally beat him again.

That’s right. He’s a well-matched chess partner for me now.

As of our last meeting, he mentioned to me that he may be interested in going to college to be a History Major, or maybe even an English Major like I was.

But whether he ends up fighting for our country in the military, or becoming a historian or a teacher, I’m here to support him; and I say, it all began with a classic game of chess.

I now invite you to read my instant sequel to this article, 5 Reasons To Play Chess With Your Child.

 

Top image: Two knights face to face on chessboard, via Shutterstock.

Bottom image: Chess coffee, via Shutterstock.

LOST Recap: Season 6, Midseason- “Ab Aeterno”

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

After going on a LOST recapping hiatus since this season’s premiere episode, I came out of hiding to praise the job well done of the long awaited Richard-eccentric episode.  I feel so relieved, excited, and passionate about LOST again.  Because the show has finally stepped back into its former mystique while at the same time taking a giant step forward.

It’s not that I wasn’t a fan of the flashes-sideways.  They were cool.  I liked learning where the characters would have ended up had things gone differently.  But after a few episodes, the game started getting stale.

Yes, I get it.  James and Miles would have been buddy cops.  Ben and Dogen would have known each other through a high school.  Kate would have still ended up helping Claire.  Jack would have meet Locke and offered to help him gain his mobility back.  (And I’ve read an interview with one of the writers that said Hurley and Libby have a baby together in an upcoming flash-sideways.)

The first half of this season, to me, has felt more like a group of forsaken bonus episodes.  I feel like last night’s episode was the first real episode of the season.

Last May when I did my Season 5 finale recap, I predicted that Richard came to the island as a Spanish explorer in the 1600’s and was killed by the Smoke Monster.  So I was a little off.  He was a Spanish slave in 1867 from the Canary Islands (Spain) who became shipwrecked on the island.  I also predicted that the whole premise of LOST was a game between Jacob and the man I still refer to as Esau.  It now clearly appears that is indeed the case.

On a side note, the actor who plays Richard, Nestor Carbonell, is a Spanish-Cuban American who does not actually wear eyeliner, despite popular assumption.  He just has really thick eyelashes.

While some Losties are disappointed that the six seasons of the show have all led up to a moral chess game between two spiritual beings, I think it’s the only plot that the series could have that is grandiose enough to pull this all together.

Because just like real life, when all it’s all over with, it will be apparent that we were all participants in a sci-fi story alongside a spiritual war.  Yes, our life matters and is real, but ultimately we have a spiritual audience watching us and even influencing our personal decisions.  Brilliant.

Read “SCIence + FaIth = Sci-Fi” http://wp.me/pxqBU-1N

As for who and what exactly Jacob and Esau are, here is my guess.  Jacob is an angel and Esau is a demon.  Here is why they are not God and Satan.  When offering to grant a wish to Richard, Jacob says he can not raise the dead nor absolve Richard’s sins.  God would be able to.  But as an angel, Jacob is restricted by what God allows him to do.

Jacob’s gift of everlasting earthbound life is interesting.  It keeps Richard from going to hell, but makes his earthly life a form of hell by keeping him trapped on Earth while still not reuniting him with Isabella.

“Ab Aeterno” (the name of the episode), which is Latin for “since the beginning of time” or figuratively “since a very long time ago”, was by far the most blatantly Christian episode to date:

Richard learned to speak English by reading the Bible and carried around his wife’s cross necklace.  When Richard was shown to us in the prison, he was reading the 4th chapter of Luke which tells about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan to turn the stone into bread (the lust of the flesh), to worship Satan in exchange for the domain of the world and all its glory (the lust of the eyes), and to attempt to commit suicide knowing that God would save him anyway (the pride of life).

This concept was later reiterated in 1 John 2:16- “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”

I wonder if this was intentionally (and loosely) played out with Richard through the episode:  Esau granted Richard the lust of the flesh when he freed him from his chains and gave him food and water.  Hurley enabled the lust of the eyes to Richard through his vision of Isabella.  Jacob granted Richard the lust of the pride of life by giving him earthly eternal life.  That could all be a coincidence, but maybe not.

In other Christian elements, Jacob asked the priest, “What can I do to earn God’s forgiveness?”, which is a pointing towards the need for God’s grace.  Also, there was the use of the word “sin” by Jacob when he quoted Esau, “Everyone is corruptible because it is in their nature to sin”.  Explicitly New Testament Biblical.

So far, Jacob has not yet been able to prove his case to Esau, that a person can ultimately choose good over evil.  He continues to bring people to the island to find someone who will be his representative of righteousness (symbolizing followers of Christ), since Jacob himself refuses to force his will upon anyone.  And of course that’s another obvious reflection of God and his relationship with humans: The granting of free will.

Esau/Billy Joel

As for my predictions for the last half of the season:

Ben Linus: I stand by my belief that he is ultimately good.

The Smoke Monster (Esau): It is a “soul train” that collects the spirits of those it kills, so that it can take the human form of them once they are dead.  Sometimes it “takes pictures” of their good deeds when it flashes the light at them to decide whether to collect them (by killing them) or keep them alive, like it did with Eko in the first season and with Richard back in 1867.

The List:  Jacob touched 7 potential “saviors of the island” back in their past including Kate (as well as Locke, Hurley, James, Sayid, Jack, and Sun/Jin), but for some reason Kate’s name wasn’t written on the cave ceiling when Faux Locke took James there: Kate somehow disqualified herself.  Also, no one knows whether it’s Jin or Sun that is on the list because only their last name shows up- but I predict it’s their kid instead, not either of them.

The Flashes-Sideways:  Not what actually happens, only glimpses.  The island is reality.

I will close with a few other quotes from the season so far that really stood out:

“I am not a zombie.” -Sayid

“John Locke was a much better man than I’ll ever be and I’m sorry I murdered him.” -Ben Linus

“I’m the smoke thing.” -Faux Locke (I like this name for him best because it rhymes with “Mohawk”.)

Read LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 1- “LA X” http://wp.me/pxqBU-vo