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Hill Country Living

Chess Is A Welcome Change From Baseball


I can’t even write about the weather anymore. Every time I’ve written my “Hey, it’s finally spring!” column the weather turns to winter again the next day, thereby forcing me to write another “Hey, it’s finally spring!” column the next week. I will no longer be mentioning the weather because it is a flip-flopping traitor. The weather is dead to me.


Other than having a one-sided falling out yesterday with natural systems completely beyond my control, I spent a while at Kroger collecting items for my seven year-old’s teacher’s birthday present. My youngest kid really loves his second grade teacher. When he gets off the bus after school everyday and I ask how his day was he proclaims,”Magnificent!” without even a hint of sarcasm. 


Then he promptly throws his backpack on the floor right in the doorway, kicks his shoes across the room so they land in two wildly separate places that will cause a fight the next morning when we can’t find one, grabs a cookie from the cookie jar and makes a beeline for the bathroom. He lives for himself and he lives free.


The birthday gift, though, was a really big deal to him. It was very important that I get the items for his teacher exactly as recited because, according to my son, these were her favorite things: “a Diet Mountain Dew, a pack of mint gum with the blue leaf on it, and some wipes because she says ‘the classroom is full of infection.’” 


I thought this was a very reasonable birthday list. Happy birthday, Ms. Sparks!


My other son had a chess tournament hosted by Davidson Elementary last weekend. As one might guess, chess tournaments are very much different than baseball tournaments. And I welcome the change. 


For one, you are inside a building at chess tournaments. Shelter is a basic human need and I appreciate when those type needs are fulfilled. I think I spent 36 straight outside at a baseball tournament in Batesville once. I barely remember it. I call it my Lost Weekend. I was fending for myself out there in the wilds of the Batesville baseball fields. It was like an episode of Naked and Afraid, except not naked even though it was 105 degrees and I probably should have been.


The volume level at chess tournaments is also a welcome change. There is no screaming. No moms freaking out like crazed lunatics and no coaches yelling at a kid so bad that you feel you might need to call DHS on to the field. 


At chess there is only the sweet, sweet sound of thinking. Now, when the games end one by one and the kids go across to play in the gym until their next game, then it is back to total pandemonium. But while the games are in session? Wow. A parent could do yoga or work on their novel.


I think, though, that my favorite difference between a chess tournament and a baseball tournament is that I have literally zero idea what on Earth my son is doing. When he’s playing chess he might as well be speaking an ancient Slovakian dialect or writing computer code. I don’t have to get emotionally invested because it’s all the same to me: completely indecipherable. 


All I know about chess is that there’s some little expendable pieces called pawns and a very important piece called The Queen. Well, that’s good enough for me! Sounds like a pretty good situation. 


I hope everyone has a magnificent week and finds some time to kick your shoes across the room and grab a cookie.

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