“I’m a Terror to Teachers”

In King’s Gambit: A Son, A Father, and the World’s Most Dangerous Game, I wrote about my losses (expected but painful nonetheless) in simultaneous chess exhibitions to Bent Larsen and Garry Kasparov. On Friday, I had the opportunity to be on the other side of the table when I played 24 kids at once at the chess club in my son’s elementary school. I now appreciate the stamina that simuls require. I was nearly dizzy when it was all over and dropped a bishop in a twenty-fifth game, against the sole adult who crashed the gathering.

Later that evening, the chess club held a bake sale at Poetry Night at the school. A couple hundred people showed up to hear the kids read verse that they had composed. My eight-year-old was one of the readers. He wouldn’t tell me in advance what he was going to read. His classmates recited nice, sentimental ditties about the beauty of sunsets, deer, and swans. Not my kid. He’s a little Jack Nicholson. He brought down the house with a poem that began: “I’m a terror to teachers/ a stingray to substitutes/ I can make the clock hand go to 3:30/ when it’s only been two seconds of math.”

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