A first review of “Chess Child” by Gary Robson

About months ago, I pre-ordered the book: Chess Child: The story of Ray Robson, America’s Youngest Grandmaster. I received it two days ago, finished reading it yesterday. It has been long long time since I finish reading a book in one day, not even the book Searching for Bobby Fisher. What a great father-son story. I knew that I only read once, may not be eligible to write a through review on it. I, however, was once eager to read the book since day one I heard it and believe that many people who haven’t read it are eager to know someone’s first impression of book.
The book covers the period from a baby Ray in Taiwan until later 2009 when Ray got all three of the GM norms and became a GM (Grandmaster) at 15 years old. Fascinating to read include Ray’s growth in chess, Gary (Ray’s father)’s plans helping Ray along the way, Yee-chen (Ray’s mother)’s modest but consistent involvement, Ray’s different tutors at different stages, and some of Ray’s disgruntled adult playmates in chess. Gary presented with a very deep thought and spirituality mediation on the lives of his own and of his son. Although it looks daunting to get into every detail at first for the readers, that feeling disappears quickly as we read along.
The book is filled with honest observations, subtle and deep love, pungent though and funny anecdotes. In order to let Ray to be successful, how much Gary had scarified in terms of time, energy, money and others! I especially like the anecdote of a deer running into the car when Ray and Gary were on the way to a tournament while Ray thought a bird did it since he was busy reading a chess book.
The plans that Gary prepared for Ray alone worth the money you spend on this book if you are a chess parent or chess educator. I thought that several factors contributed to Ray’s success after reading this book:

  • had work
  • confidence
  • love, guidance and sacrifice from parents
  • guidance and criticisms from tutors, even sporadically.

As Henry David Thoreau said in Walden: “However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The faultfinder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poor-house.” I envy and congratulate Gary for his glorious hour.
I whole heartily recommended this great book to any chess parents, chess educators, chess players or someone may have an interest in it. I ordered my copy from the publisher’s website.


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