Friday, November 9, 2012

Still Life with Chess Pieces

Will and I still have a regular (and fun!) chess study together. We play often, with me at various levels of handicaps from the slight to the slightly ridiculous--

If there was a tutor to be had I'd obtain one for her, but as it is we subsist, as well, on episodes of Elliott Chess School, bi-monthly chess club meetings, games of Fritz and Chesster, and the odd chess puzzle.

We don't have one complete chess set between us, but instead dozens of partial sets that we cobble together to play, with several dozen other chess pieces sitting unused in Will's chess bag during any given game. While we play, Sydney amuses herself greatly with the single activity that is perhaps Willow's most hated thing for her sister to do (in other words, she hates this even MORE than when Sydney says "It doesn't care" instead of "It doesn't matter," and even more than when Sydney plays audiobooks at bedtime without plugging in her headphones, and even more than when I ask the girls if they want to go to the library and Sydney says that she doesn't):

She plays with the unused chess pieces.

A lover of small things, Sydney sets elaborate scenarios for the chess pieces to play out, sorts them, makes patterns with them, personifies them into real kings and queens (or fairies and unicorns), and never EVER puts them away without being prompted. Apparently she also photographs them, since this is what I found on my camera the other day:


I can only imagine what imaginative scenario is being played out here.

With all her time with the chess pieces, Sydney has never expressed an interest in learning, herself, although she's witnessed so many matches that I'd be surprised if she didn't already understand how to play. Her imagination, however, is thoroughly enriched by chess, and I can't imagine a better background to the game.

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