Over on the UK GeekDad blog we’ve been thinking about how we can help our kids get more hands on with the tech, games and gadgets that we love. Mark Changizi just shared this story about how his daughter reinvented the game of chess…
Recently I sat down with my eight-year-old and taught her how to play the king of all games: chess. Soon afterwards however, she surprised me by reinventing the game from the ground up. At first I was a little perplexed at this controversial move, but I soon realized that there was a fundamentally good scientific principle at work here.
I remember playing chess with my father at the same age. The passing down of chess across generations seems timeless, and takes little note of nation or culture — my father learned chess from his bronze-maker father in 1940s Iran.
I was understandably touched when she came to me the next day wishing to play chess. “Of course!” I replied. “Great,” she said. “Here are the rules.”
She handed me a packet of papers, and at the top of the first she had written, “Plastic Animal Chess.” Below this was an enumeration of the kinds of pieces to be used (with blanks where we would record which plastic animals would be the stand-ins for each type), along with what each kind of piece does.
“This is complicated, Honey,” I wondered aloud, worried it would be far too difficult for her — and me. There were, by the end of her four hand-written pages, 10 distinct piece types and 18 pieces in all. “Chess only has six types, and it is already immensely difficult!” I said.
But more than my fright at the complexity of her game was another reaction, this one in my gut. Wasn’t there something mildly wrong about this new game of hers? Chess is a revered institution. What kind of heretic plays chess once and immediately presumes to do better?
[This article, written by Andy Robertson, was originally published on Thursday. Click through to read the rest of the story, and please leave any comments you may have on the original.]