Press here to play chess


“He cannot see. He blind now. Make him lean away from the wind so he is easier to knock down.” Strategic I might say, but what about you? Ever wonder how much a single sentence can make just by taking a sentence out of a paragraph? Waverly Jong. A Chinese girl born in the United States. No, this is not what this story is about. Living below standards, learning something new and getting involved in it. Trying something new. Many of us can relate to this, some can even say it probably similar to their daily lives. As an athlete puts hard work into training and learning, they also have to sacrifice other activities in their life. This is how hard work pays off. In these situations, when we need all we can get. It is the hours of practice you put in. In “Rules of The Game” Amy Tan creates a protagonist that is characterized by mixed emotions and creativity in which it is untangled throughout the story, Waverly and I are similar in many ways.

As the story progresses Amy Tan unveils different characteristics of the dynamic protagonist, Waverly. She uses characterization to present the character’s moods in different scenarios. In the story, Waverly was shown as a curious girl because of the questions she has asked brother Vincent about chess. As the game progresses Waverly resumes to questioning her brother: “Why?” I asked as I moved my pawn. “Why can’t they move more steps?… But why do they go crossways to take other men? Why aren’t there any woman and children?” (Tan 4). From this dialogue, we learn that Waverly is new to such activity and was never part of it. This later causes her to find out all the rules and guidelines a chess player should know. Additionally, this makes her more fascinated by chess and studies it even more. Everyone thought that Waverly was just a useless girl that was not going to achieve anything miraculous. At the start of the story, Lau Po distinguished her a “doll”. One example that included this point is “‘Little sister, it’s been a long time since I’ve played with dolls’” (Tan 6). Perceiving the alley next to her, she walked curiously into the hall way. Lau Po expressed his thought of Waverly as a cute girl that does not know what she’s getting into. This is to be proven wrong as she would go on the win multiple chess championships. In the “Rules of The Game” Waverly was a strategic girl. She tries her hardest to study and master the strategies in chess and uses them against her opponents, “‘I would pause, suck my lips, twirl my chosen piece in midair as if undecided, then firmly plant it in a new threatening place’” (Tan 8). During her walk back to home after school, she saw elders playing chess at the end of the alley. Waverly was eager to learn and improve her skills. Also after she won multiple chess tournaments, she no longer has time to play chess in the alleys. To prepare for the chess tournaments, she would practice for hours at home. Additionally, she proved Lau Po to be wrong. She was a very grateful person regarding their condition at home. Even though they lived in an apartment above a small Chinese bakery in China Town, “‘I didn’t think we were poor. My bowl was always full’” (Tan 1). From this quote, we understood her mindset. She understands that there are others in worse condition. That remained in her thought the entire time she won tournaments. She was thankful that Lau Pu was able to teach her a lot of techniques. This was no surprise since her thoughts throughout the story were never selfish. Her appearance was way more formal and luxurious than before she started playing chess. As the paragraph describes “‘[Her] neatly plaited braids clipped with plastic barrettes trimmed with rhinestones’” (Tan 8). As well as “‘In my crisp pink-and-white dress with scratchy lace at the neck, one of two my mother had sewn for these special occasions’” (Tan 8). These quotes tell the reader in which Waverly’s appearance has changed from before. She was dressed in beautiful and elegant clothing she never wore before. From this quote we can see that her mother wanted to let the public see her daughter as a well-educated girl. She was dressed in a more formal fashion compared from the beginning of the story. Waverly Jong, swinging her patent leather shoes back and forth like an impatient child riding a school bus, is planning her attack against the opponent.

Waverly and I live in totally different communities. Different passions, different thought process. But if the there is something that is similar, we would have to be the same mindset we have towards something we love to do. She is willing to take the time and practice chess, comparable to my work ethic, willing to spend the time to improve on not just basketball. But every subject that we learn. I think every student would have this similarity with Waverly. This is why we are going to school from Mondays to Fridays. She and I both are curious about things that we do not know. I was once not treated the way I should be on the basketball court, they said I had no game, they said I wasn’t able to play offense. There are reasons why everyone is doing something. The will always be a reason. Another similarity Waverly and I have is being grateful. My dad used to tell me that no matter how successful you are, you should never be greedy and selfish. There is always someone in worse condition than you even if you think this is the worst it could get. What is your principal?

Image Citation: Giphy. “Chess GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY.” GIPHY,

3 thoughts on “Press here to play chess

  1. I also like how you say that Amy Tan slowly “unboxes” Waverly as a character throughout the story and as it progresses.

  2. I like how you described Waverly in the first paragraph and I think you have a nice thesis statement.

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