There are plenty of things I know I’ll never accomplish in life, such as a Miss America title (and not just because I’m a Mrs.), a Nobel Prize in anything that requires math, or a reality show that involves things like snakes, bachelorettes, babies, or addictions.
I also know I won’t ever be a national (international, regional or local) chess champion, so it’s heartwarming to hear that 7-year-old triplets from New Jersey actually are.
Andreas, Nicholas and Constantine Oskiper of East Windsor took home the title for teams of first graders earlier this month in the National Scholastic K-12 Chess Championship in Florida, which was likely the first time in history that triplets have achieved such a feat.
According to their parents, the boys play chess constantly and enthusiastically, and only learned how a little over a year ago when it was introduced into the curriculum at their school. Both of the boys’ parents have doctorates in electrical engineering, and their mom told The New York Times that she’s thrilled they’ve taken a liking to it because she “wanted them to acquire all these good qualities that chess players have . . . [and] think ahead and set a goal and figure out to think strategically to get there.”
While the boys do experience some sibling rivalry when playing, when they’re competing as a team, their parents say they exhibit nothing but support for each other.
I read stories like theirs with awe, because not when I was 7, 17 or 27 did I have the fortitude to compete at that kind of level. The fact of the matter is, like an M&M, I have a hard candy shell, and at any moment, I’m likely to crack and melt down. I’d rather kneel down and concede defeat like the President did before General Zod in Superman II before even attempting most competitions. Winning is fun, but the pressure of getting there is just too much for me.
When I’m forced to playing Monopoly, I’m always relieved to land in jail so the stress of landing on a property loaded with houses and hotels is alleviated for a few turns. Connect Four, Pictionary, Chutes and Ladders, checkers, war, gin and the like are also way too much for me. I’ve never liked video games — being mercilessly tailed by Inky and Clyde when all I want is to eat a couple of measly cherries isn’t my idea of a good time.
The fear of competition is also (mostly) why I don’t watch sports — I feel the pain of the losers all too well. I think about the parents, grandparents, high school coaches and mentors whose hopes and dreams are riding vicariously on the success of the players. I get uncomfortable and embarrassed for all of them. So really, it’s just best if I just turn the channel. I can barely watch the National Spelling Bee for the same reason.
However, had the National Scholastic K-12 Chess Championship been televised, I think I might I have tuned in to see if I could learn a thing or three from the Oskiper Brothers. For some reason I think what they’re learning and winning is about more than a game of chess.
Do you and your kids play chess?
Image: Creative Commons