Most of my ideas for entertaining the kids are shamelessly copied from things I did with my younger brother when we were kids. I’m yet to introduce them to the hilarious enjoyment of chasing a sibling with dog poo on the end of stick. I will save that one for the summer. A more civilised childhood brotherly pursuit was Chess.
Chess has been around for approximately 27 million years so it felt like the perfect game to try and get them interested in. It would get them thinking, we could extend it into some arts and crafts at some point by maybe building our own chess set but also it reminded me of playing Battle Chess on the PC with my brother in the 90s on our beat up Amstrad PC.
Battle Chess was a great game and a genius marketing ploy by the developers. It was just a basic chess game but whenever you took a piece it played a little animation of the two chess pieces battling until one died in glorious fashion. This was going to be my way into getting the kids hooked too.
What actually happened
Before we go any further let me introduce the kids. We will call them Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3 in a honour of the wonderful Dr. Seuss. Thing 3 is a little girl of toddler age. Thing 2 is a boy not long started in primary school and Thing 1 is a girl halfway through her primary school adventure. To check if they were ready for chess we had a quick quiz in the car:
Me: So what’s the aim of the game in Chess?
Thing 2: It’s a TOY WAR!!
Me: Do you know what way the pieces can move?
Thing 1: The queen can move in all directions as much as she wants. She’s the best piece on the board. Girls rule the world. whoooop!
Another great answer albeit one with a strong feminist agenda.
Me: So will we try and play when we get home?
Thing 3: Baby shark do do do dooo ddooo
While Thing 3 played with her Noah’s Ark (for the animals not the religious undertones) I set about getting Thing 1 and Thing 2 playing against each other in Battle Chess 3D on the tablet. The game was great in that when you selected a piece it showed you where it could move to so they quickly got the hang of making moves and trying to take their siblings pieces. They did take maybe too much enjoyment in sacrificing their pawns so they could watch the animation of them being killed! It was great to see them not fall out with each other either when they lost a piece. Perhaps they are destined to be cold hearted field marshals sacrificing their soldiers for overall victory. Come to think of it Thing 1’s Napoleon outfit did seem excessive for a wednesday evening.
Thing 3 couldn’t really participate so it’s a 0 out of 5 from her. Thing 2 loved the battle chess element but not as keen on the real world version so a 3 out of 5 from him. Thing 1 definitely got more value which isn’t surprising, being the oldest. She enjoyed it more than the others and loved trying to work out the different moves for the different pieces. 4 out of 5 from her giving us an average of just slightly under 3 out of 5 overall.
Chess was a different activity for them to try and I loved when they worked as a team figuring out the moves together. It cost nothing to download battle chess onto the tablet and I had picked up a cheap set in the pound-shop (for a pound unsurprisingly). It definitely has legs as a reoccurring activity and I definitely think the Things will now be up for helping me fulfill my long term dream of building a Lego chess set!