Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Bobby Fisher Mistake

I'm going to speak in the hypothetical today. A what if... if you will. This post does not apply to me personally, so I don't want you thinking that it does. Because it doesn't. I'm just using a fake example to help other parents out there who might make the same mistake as this parent did in this false example that I've just completely made up.

Anyway, on to my completely false, not based on any personal experience story. Let's say that you have a child and that child has taken an interest in a game, could be any game really, but for the sake of argument let's say the game is Chess. You've never seen your child take this much interest in something before. You're impressed. He or she signs up for the Chess Club at school and can't wait to get to school early every Wednesday morning so he or she can play his or her most favorite game. You think it's time to take the next step so you decide to play your child in Chess. You discover that your child is actually quite good at the game and there could really be something there. You go a bit further and sign him or her up with a larger Chess Club, let's just call it the Kansas City Chess Club for the sake of argument. So this child begins playing with this Kansas City Chess Club and really loves playing Chess. Allow me to break at this time again and remind you that this is completely made up. Completely drawn from the dark holes of my brain. Don't ask me how I stumbled on to this crazy and hypothetical story I am just doing it because there might be parents out there who might be thinking the same thing and they might draw some help from this completely fake story that I'm making up right now but cannot be based on anything I draw from personally.

Okay, so let's just say that this parent happens to love movies. A lot. Again, let me remind you that the parallels are strictly coincidental at this point. And this parent thinks it would be kind of fun and interesting for his child to watch the movie Searching For Bobby Fisher because it's about Chess. This parent thinks that it might make this child love Chess even more. So the parent plays the movie for the child and the child loves this movie. I mean, loves this movie. Asks to see the ending over and over again. And then the child wants to play Chess right after seeing this movie, so the parent indulges. And only a few turns into the game, the child holds out his or her hand and asks for a draw. The parent denies the hand but proceeds cautiously. About ten more turns into the game, the child holds out his or her hand again and asks for a draw, this time saying that the child will put the parent in check mate in two turns. Again, the parent proceeds cautiously and quickly discovers that the child is completely full of shit. It's at this the point that the parent begins to wonder if showing the child Searching For Bobby Fisher was maybe a bad idea.

But the parent quickly squashes that idea and instead enrolls the child into a National Chess Tournament thinking that maybe the child has the gift, not to the extremes that Josh Waitskin did, but still has a gift. The parent fantasizes about large trophies with chess pieces adorning them and going to big cities and watching his kid sit at the head table playing the best Chess players in the country and maybe the world. And the kid fantasizes as well. Leading player after player into check mate and winning big trophies and having to build on additional rooms just to hold all the trophies. And the money. There might be money attached and think of all the Pokemon cards that could be purchased with that money. Again readers, let me remind you of just how false this whole story is. It in no way relates to me or my personal experiences. Yes it feels a bit specific and maybe a bit too detailed to be made up, but that is just the power of my writing. So the child plays in a five round tournament. The hopes are high and the excitement is unbearable at first. But then the child loses and loses again and loses until he or she loses every single game. At first, the losing doesn't seem to affect the child, but each time the parent sees the child exit the tournament room, the child looks more and more defeated as the realization sets in that he or she is not in fact Josh Waitzkin. And so too does the parent come to the realization that this is not a movie, but in fact reality and in reality the Bobby Fishers and Josh Waitzkins are one in a million. And if one wants to be really good at Chess, one must work at it very hard. And there might be some private lessons involved.

So take heed friends at this completely false story I just provided you with. If your child happens to love Chess like this fake child in this fake story, then hold off on the Searching For Bobby Fisher screening for a while. You'll do yourself a favor.


Adam Ross said...

Wow. Just, wow.

A better chess movie for this hypothetical parent to show their child might have been the surprisingly excellent "Fresh" with Samuel L. Jackson, so he would have learned how the game can solve inner city gang wars.

Also, it seems like chess is the game best suited for trophy designers. The best trophies for a chess tournament would be a giant gold plated King piece for first, a Queen for second, Bishop for third, and everyone else would get shitty copper pawns for participating.

Burbanked said...

This story is exactly why I rarely encourage so-called "intellectual" exploits in my children. Every time one of them picks up a "book" or uses the word "jejune" correctly in a sentence or that one time that all three of them got together and solved a "quadratic equation"? I simply get out a baseball bat and instruct them how to beat the ever living crap out of the tree with it.

Bad for the tree? Maybe. But they'll never be disappointed by life's failures, I can gol-darn-assure you that, mister.

Anonymous said...

That phony kid in that made-up story is a puny little bitch. I'm glad he got his ass handed to him over and over and over again until he cried alone at night into his pillow out of sheer frustration and shame.

Gee, I sure hope that wasn't you, Piper.

PIPER said...

Whoah! Take it easy Ray. That hypothetical kid in that story is my son, Gabe. But he's made up of course because this is not a real story.

Nayana Anthony said...

hee hee hee.

Anonymous said...




Yes, son.

Do I have to continue to play chess?

Yes son, now get back in the basement and play another round with the Chessbot 2000.

But I want to go outside and see the sunlight! I haven't seen it in weeks!

NO!! You are my prodigy!! You are going to become a chess wiz!!! You are going to win millions in tournaments.

Chess is boooooring!

NO IT ISN'T!!! You are going to pay for our family's future!


Look, do you think running the Lazy Eye Theatre is easy??? I have to pay big bucks to all my ghostwriters. And if I am ever going to have a site as beautifully designed as The Rec Show, I need to make a lot of money. Since I don't want to have to work, you will do it for me.

Ok, poppa.

Thank you.

PIPER said...

I'm reading half way through this and thinking, this reeks of Ray. And then I see The Rec Show mention and know that I was right.

Anonymous said...

LOL It was NOT me, Piper. I would have enough understanding of scriptwriting that I would have designated character names to the dialogue.

And it couldn't be Eric, because I don't see any misspellings.

And it couldn't be Chris, because Chris is never online and never writes anything.

Hmmmm ... must be one of our three readers... damn bastards ... go play chess with Piper's son, ya loser!!!!!!

(just kiddin' bubba :)

12XU said...

have you heard of the book The Art of Learning? The real josh wrote it. After his chess career was ruined by the release of his biopic movie (distracted by girl fans, I am told), he got into judo and became a national champion. Chess->Judo. I bought it, but have not read it yet. My brother raves over it.

PIPER said...


I haven't. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the heads up.

Megan said...

This is my favorite post of the year so far. I am inspired, Piper. Sucks that my riposte will be all about my son's facination with Pokemon, Duel Masters, Yugi-Oh, Full Metal Alchemist, and now... World of Warcraft.

At least he can play WOW without leaving the house...

PIPER said...

Thanks Megan,

My son loves Pokemon as well and asks a lot about World Of Warcraft. I'm trying to keep him clear of it as long as I can.

Damian Arlyn said...

My good friend Tucker just wrote a rather thoughtful piece on his blog Pilgrimakimbo that sort of reminded me of this one, Piper. Thought you might find it interesting.

PIPER said...


I checked out Tuckers piece and commented. It's a wonderful piece. Thanks for sending it.

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