Beat Your Child — At Chess!

By Bill Tipper

[Editor's Note:  Bill Tipper's piece below originally ran earlier this year.  A note from Daniel Menaker about our August schedule follows.]

Her kindergarten teacher spotted her potential, you paid for the chess lessons, and now you’re suffering the consequences.  At first, you were throwing games — “losing”  a couple of pawns and even a bishop to help her build confidence.  Then, for about a week, you trembled as she figured out your weaknesses. (Yes, her knight really was only two moves away from your rook — and the whole thing was just a ploy to target your unprotected queen. When did she learn that?)   Now, she offers to play you without her queen, and you’re pretending to have a conference call every  Saturday afternoon.  How can you get “back in the game”?

“Beat Your Child  — at Chess!” is the world’s first guide to adding to those precious few months when you’re even on the same chess planet with your son or daughter — before all your credibility and authority are lost to her brilliant variation on a simple knight’s gambit and you become a mere servant with a driver’s license and the means to pay tournament fees.  “Beat Your Child  — at Chess!”  offers — oh, all right! — perhaps ethically questionable but nevertheless prodigy-tested and game-proven methods that can extend  your rapidly diminishing intellectual stature in your child’s eyes by weeks, months, possibly even a year.  It features:

CRAZY OPENINGS:  The Brechtian Defense;  the Magpie’s Overture; the Desperate Cuticle; and more. These fiendish first courses were  invented by the “surrealist grandmaster” Gustavus Mango-Sfyzy as he spent the waning days of World War I in a Bulgarian sanatorium playing against “Endgame” Miklovic, the eight-year-old son of the custodian and future inventor of the emoticon. His bizarre chess openings are just the thing to throw your budding Kasparova off her game long enough for you to snatch up an early bishop and stand some chance of survival. 

ELEMENTARY VENTRILOQUISM:  Throwing your voice is easier than you might suppose.  Once you’ve mastered our five-step method, you’ll find it’s a snap to “ghost whisper” your otherwise iron-willed young opponent into paranoia and confusion. Some examples from our catalog of  disembodied ploys:  “Caitlin’s in your room, scribbling on your unicorn poster”; “Mr. Whiskers is a very sad and lonely kitty because you’re playing chess all the time”; “If you capture that rook, Mom and Dad will have another baby.”

PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE:  There are things even the most precocious little urban sophisticate isn’t quite prepared to hear about, and Santa’s nonexistence is just the beginning:  the workings of the adult endocrine system, the college application process, and what global warming means for penguins — each topic, played right, clears your path to your opponent’s king.  For truly desperate parents struggling to keep up with ‘tween players, we’ve provided a whole chapter on how to hint at what the mean girls are saying at school about chess nerds.

SPECIAL PREMIUM — INSTANT E-CONSULTATIONS:  Use your cell phone to surreptitiously take a picture of the board (pretend to be capturing your beloved offspring mid-move) and text to KID-CHK-MATE; for a low one-time credit-card charge a series of up to 5 moves will be texted back to you in the time it takes for you to fake a trip to the bathroom.  Impoverished chess whiz-kids from across the former Soviet Union are standing by to help you salvage your dignity.

Order today.  You’re  not getting any smarter — but she is.


Bill Tipper is the Managing Editor of the Barnes & Noble Review.

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A Seasonal Note to Our Readers from Grin & Tonic Editor Daniel Menaker:  

Mainly,  what on earth are you doing, reading this in the second half of August?  Trade this screen for sunscreen, get out there among the stinging jellyfish and tarballs and riptides, ogle men if you’re a woman, women if you’re a man, men if you’re a gay man, women if you’re a gay woman, yourself if you are alone and not entirely hideous, collect shells and then throw them away when they start to make unsightly bulges in the pockets of your trunks or the tops of your bikinis, marvel at the horshoe-crab exoskeleton just above the tideline, recall that it is one of the most ancient survivors among all living things, ogle it, very quickly get over your sense of wonder, kick the horsehoe-crab thing, take a swig from the styrofoam cup filled with now-warm sangria that you bought at the beach bar, gaze in awe at the ocean waves crashing ceaselessly one after the other, kind of like a pile-up on I-90, or like an angry mob storming the legislature in Lima, or like an annoying neighbor who plays the sound track from “South Pacific” over and over again, or like the sound of heavy broken glass falling from a great height onto a Posturepedic mattress, or like thousands of crumpets, if only because the word “crumpet” sounds like the waves crumpeting down on the sand–or like an Irish pennywhistle, a fig newton just sitting there, or Caruso’s C above high C, if you are crazy.


But if you must read on, zoris still in the closet, understand that it is the second half of August, and that even if you’re not, we at Grin & Tonic are on that beach, or more likely stuck in traffic on the way, and so are most of our contributors, and so, over the next few days, we are bringing back some of the classic humor pieces we’ve posted over the last year, with an eye to making you laugh–or say, “This isn’t particularly funny, in my opinion”– all over again.

       –Daniel Menaker, Editor, Grin & Tonic