Make Up Your Own Rules

Yes, I spawned a maniac.

It all started with board games.

You and your family may be like many families during a quarantine, and if so, you may have been playing some board games. I’ve played my share during the last few months.

As for the maniac, I blame chess. It all started when I taught my son how to play chess. I taught him the rules…but loosely. I would let him move the pieces any way he wanted so he would get the idea of capturing. Then I taught him a rule here, a rule there. How pawns capture on the diagonal, how bishops do the same, and how rooks command rows and columns. Each time we played, I taught him a little more. I would let him win just to teach him the rules. Eventually we got to the most difficult piece to move, the knight.

Whether you call it a flower pattern, a sun pattern, a series of L-shapes, a queen killer, the knight moves can be the most difficult to see in your mind. He started to understand it until he could finally win legitimately. Now I have a challenge when we play, he’s so good.

Regardless of whether I won or lost, I told him it was fun.

We used to take apart old board games, mix them up, change them with markers and make our own. Making our own rules was a lot of fun. We still love to play the Monopoly game we altered so the Chance cards have added zeros. (Instead of 100 dollars, you pay 1000.) It adds some surprise to the game.

One of my favorite games when I was younger, was Risk.

When I tried to teach my son how to play Risk, he wanted to make up his own rules. I honestly had no idea how to implement his rules into the game. Risk is a lot more complicated than chess. There are rules on how to gain armies, when to place armies, how to attack, how to defend, when to get cards and what to do with them when you get them, plus 17 other rules with their own timing.

We struggled for a while, him trying to make up newer, better rules, me trying to make them fit in smoothly with the rest of the rules. We would still play Risk, but it hardly ever ended with a clear winner. It usually ended with us upset at each other (sort of how real-life international politics end up, but that’s a subject for another time).

Recently, we pulled the box out of the closet and started a war, a board game war, by reading the rule book. Yep, we played by the rules, and I didn’t let him win; he won with some skilled chess-like strategy.

And at the end, he said, “Hey, that’s a fun game.”

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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