Checkers Redux

About a month ago, I reported on Evie’s progress playing checkers. I am now willing to say that she is as good as any adult (and probably better than some). Last weekend she played 6 games of checkers against adults, and she won 3 of them. I don’t think I would have done any better myself. I think it’s a pretty impressive feat for a 5 year old.

Basically the difference is that she’s shored up her last few weaknesses. I alluded to them last time, but it doesn’t hurt to tell you about it now, since she’s already past all that. She used to really focus in on one objective, such as getting a king with a particular checker, and therefore miss other moves she should be making. In fact, she used to focus almost exclusively on getting kings, but not really on using the kings she had. This sort of tied in to having trouble being aggressive with her kings at the endgame, running from your inferior numbers and allowing herself to get trapped in corners. Finally, you used to be able to make mistakes and she wouldn’t capitalize on them.

All of that is over now. Mastering those things has allowed her to improve at the more advanced skills. Now she’s looking ahead several moves into the future, and setting up traps. She is really, *really* good at setting up traps. In fact, she has a trap that she springs so often, Sara and I have named it “Evie’s Choice”. Somehow (and I seriously can’t understand how she manages it at least once per game), she maneuvers a king in between two of your kings, meaning that you can save one, but not both.

The fact that she sets up different traps than I do is fascinating to me. First off, she learned that one on her own, because nobody else runs it. Second off, is it something about her personality, or age, or brain structure that allows her to see these traps developing instead of other patterns which are obvious to me? Because I totally cannot see “Evie’s Choice” coming.

In any case, if you’re coming to play some checkers, you better plan on bringing your A-game.

King Me

For Christmas we received a beautiful, handmade checkerboard from my step-father Ron. It was sort of the right gift at the right time, because it’s a game that Evie was really ready for; not too difficult, but more difficult than the kids games she had been playing before.

We’ve had our ups and downs with checkers, but overall she really enjoys it. The problem is that she doesn’t really have anybody else at her skill level to play with, so playing checkers is usually just a series of humiliating defeats. I’m actually pretty impressed; I’m not sure if I would still want to play after being crushed 10 times in a row. Sometimes she needs a little break, but soon enough she’s right back at it.

Finally, the other day, she had her first win. Suddenly it was my turn to suffer a crushing defeat.




Although I had a momentary lapse in concentration which caused everything to go downhill very fast, this was a legitimate win. She beat me fair and square, and not for lack of effort on my part. Oh boy was she excited:


For someone who has experienced the agony of defeat, she sure doesn’t hold back on the gloating if she feels she’s doing a good job. A little prematurely, usually.

She hasn’t nabbed another win since that game, although she almost had Sara the other day. But she has certainly been improving, no question. She has a couple of strong tendencies that hurt her a little bit (well I’m not going to tell you what they are, I want her to get some wins), but she’s certainly mastered the main concepts.

How long should we wait before we introduce chess? 🙂