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The Venue: The library room at our home. A large mat is laid on the floor, and sitting on it is the humble 64 square checkered board. The father sits on one side, hopeful of teaching the eager mind on the other side his favourite game. The daughter sits opposite him, curious about the new game she’s about to learn.
The opening gambit – King’s Pawn Game
King takes a bold step forward: Darling, let’s play chess. There are black and white pieces and they fight against each other. Choose the colour you want.
Pawn cuts: Why are black and white fighting against each other? They should be friends! I don’t like games that involve fighting.
King moves one step back: It isn’t a fight, it is a competition. You have to be clever to make your side win. You have to kill, errr, knock the opponent’s king down, while you protect yours
Feminist pawn takes a step forward: Ooh. Is the queen more powerful than the king? Does she have to protect him? I like the game. How does a piece get knocked down?
The little pawn pushes the opponent’s king off the board, and jumps with delight because she thinks she has won the game since the king was “knocked down”.
Queen slides in diagonally to defend her king: Each piece can move only in a particular way. Daddy is going to teach you how they can move. It’s just like your dance teacher teaching you your dance moves
Pawn dances in her box: Now I get it. It’s like the Waltz, isn’t it? I need 3 steps to move through my box
King senses an opening and goes for the kill: Yes, the knight does exactly that. He can move 3 steps. Let me show you how.
Pawn reaches the other end and gets promoted to a dancing queen: What is the beat I need to use? Why isn’t the knight glittering in his armour? He doesn’t look like a knight at all, he looks like his horse.
Daddy, I have another idea. Let’s play my version of the game. In this version, black and white are friends. They choose partners and learn dance moves and dance their way to the other end.
The king declares the game a stalemate and walks away complaining he can neither handle 2 queens at home nor on the chess board. The pawn hums “You are the dancing queen” and the king breaks into a little 3-step jig as he gets to the door. Ah! My knight in whining armour!