How to play family games, but without the bloodshed.

My most favorite memory of the holidays?

The games.

I looked forward to it for days leading up to whichever holiday it was. The food was usually delicious and noteworthy, gifts were fun, but nothing, nothing, beat the games.

My sisters and I would play for hours, sometimes coming away with bleeding hands from card-paper-cuts or accidental fingernail stabbings in Nertz, sometimes we would launch away from the dining room table screaming something through peals of laughter like, “I’m about to pee my pants!” after my oldest sister would draw the Hum a Tune card in Cranium, and sometimes I would be bored out of my ever lovin’ mind because I was getting slaughtered at Scrabble. But it was a ruthless pandemonium that I cherished.

Our 6yo received a Harry Potter Wizard’s Chess set for Christmas that is awesome. It looks just like the one in the movie (but not nearly as big – ha), and we busted it out with instructions in hand, determined to learn a game that no one in this house has played before. He called it “chest” about 9,456 times within the first 24 hours until we tortured him with eating a piece of broccoli for every mispronunciation.

Just kidding.

It was cooked carrots.

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Following all the directions (aside from the special moves; thought I’d give us both a shot at this game with small bites at a time), I took down my boy not once, but twice. And it being such a civilized and gentlemanly game, there was no blood. And also because it wasn’t real Wizard’s Chess.

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I really am the world’s worst mother when it comes to stuff like this.

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I thought I was doing a great job of teaching him to not only think about his current move, but also about my next move, and then his after that. I think it’s called “strategy” or something perverse like that.

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I’m just kidding about the “taking him down” part, sort of. I didn’t really do it on purpose; I would just all of a sudden see a move and go for the capture.

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I thought, “I love chess!” and “This is SO FUN!” We both did, and in fact, took a moment to celebrate that mutual feeling by trying to strangle the small fry.

But then, as I was winding down my day yesterday, I got the notion to download a chess game onto my iPhone to practice my capturing and strategic moves. I researched the games, downloaded the free game with the best ratings (and the most ratings), slid the difficulty slider all the way to the left so it would be easy-peasy, and promptly got my butt kicked by a frickin’ computer in about 30 seconds of play.

Seriously. I felt dumb.

And the computer moved its pieces so quickly that I couldn’t tell if I had just been knocked out by a rook or a bishop or a knight.

Then I found this quote, which made me feel better since I went all ninja on my phone before tucking my tail and going to sleep.

A computer beat me in chess, but it was no match when it came to kickboxing.  –  Emo Phillips

I think I like it better when my opponent and I trade looks like this, and we both totally know that we’re in the same spot.

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