Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chess -- The Last Bastion Has been Breached!

How's this for strange: Opie was talking to one his buddies over the weekend and heard that the guy was taking his son to a chess tournament.

That’s not the strange part.

The strange part is that the father is not allowed in the room where the tournament is taking place; he's not allowed to watch the tournament AT ALL. He has to sit out in some anteroom, waiting, until his son finishes the match and then comes back to tell him about it.

To be honest, since this is a friend from Opie's younger, wilder days, I assumed this was an individual ban. I suspected that the guy had been involved in some alcohol-induced shenanigans of questionable legality. I had a vision of a group of guys huddling around a chess match, passing around a bottle of Jack Daniels (or some classier chess-related beverage), yelling “Drink!” and doing shots every time some kid said “Check” or moved a pawn or whatever.

Which is a little unfair considering these guys have all grown up and matured but sometimes those old images are hard to shake...besides, if truth be told, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't take a lot of effort to convince Opie to partake in a chess drinking game, even now.

But then Opie be told me that it's not an individual ban; no parents are allowed in the chess room. None of them get to watch the tournament.

So I can only assume the prohibition  came into effect because parents were acting poorly during the matches.

Chess parents were acting up.

Chess parents!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not making fun of chess or chess parents. Both my brothers play chess, several of my nieces and nephews play chess—one of their schools offers chess class as an elective. I have no problem with chess other than the fact I'm terrible at it. Chess is a game of logic and strategy; I'm a creature of emotion. I play chess and I think things like “Why isn’t the queen as important as the king? That seems unfair!” and then I worry about the cruelty of throwing pawn after pawn into the heat of a battle they can’t win.

Chess does not go well for me.

My point is I always considered chess one of the last bastions of civilized society. I imagined chess parents clapping lightly, saying thing like "well done" and nodding their supportive approval. I didn't realize they must run around like drunk Little League parents screaming “Take that idiot’s knight! Take it!” and “Go for check!” and “Kill that Grand Master wannabe!”

So now I need to know if this is common practice or if this is some weird Midwest aberration. Do all chess tournaments ban parents? Is there some other reason for this type of ban or has the world descended so far into madness that the last bastion of civilized society has been been breached?

Please, someone, restore my faith in humanity!

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