Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Chess Stress..

A year has passed since I wrote this blog - (It was a time when chess was a game, not a contest.) After seeing my son's interest in the game, we enrolled him in a chess coaching academy three months back. Before we knew it, he was selected by his coach for a district level tournament. Since this was my first time as a mother of a competing child, I have to admit, I was unprepared.

A day at the tournament meant playing back to back matches throughout the day. It meant a tiring day for me and him. Most parents there seemed far more experienced in this. At the end of the day I won’t say I learnt much but I did observe a lot.

The hardest part was seeing a child loose; anybody’s. One came out, eyes down, saying he lost. One came out with just a thumb’s down. One came out looking out for her mom or dad with a look that said it all. It caused a pang. A parent consoled a child with an “It’s ok.” When the child came out victorious after the next match, the same parent gave a high five and exclaimed, “Yes, you did it!” I think children are smart enough to understand then, that it wasn't so ok with you the last time. I think, if failures are to be downplayed, victories need to be too, don’t you think?

Another dad amused me. Between every match he would take his son aside and bombard him with his '21 most likelys'. “If I move my queen to some x position, what will you do?”, “In some y scenario would you do the short castelling?” He just went on with his little U7. Needless to say, his son was a winner throughout. Is this what it takes to raise a winner? I simply can’t see me doing this. I thought taking your kids to a coaching class, guiding them when they asked for and taking them to such tournaments, was good enough? That's the difference between being an involved parent and a dedicated parent, one would argue. Unfortunately the way I saw it, the line between being dedicated and pressurizing was too thin. 

Another kid was peering into the iPhone that my son was playing during a break. His mom cautioned him not to. “Not now,” she said. “If I win the next match, can I play after that?” he asked back. I was surprised he didn’t phrase it like “Can I play in the evening?” Unlike my child, he was used to being rewarded.

That’s why I fear my little one will always be the average player who won some, lost some, and ate and played on the iPhone in between. And on someone else’s blog I’ll be the mom who let him be that way. L