In "Rules of the Game" by Amy Tan, when does Meimei first become interested in chess? Through what means does she learn to play the game?

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liesljohnson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Meimei first becomes interested in chess when her brothers receive a chess set (the board and the pieces) at a Christmas party. It's second-hand, and it's missing some pieces, but the brothers seem interested in learning the game--so, naturally, Meimei (Waverly) is interested, too. Her brothers are reluctant to let her play, but she offers some of her LifeSavers candies as substitutes for the missing pieces of the game. Meimei's mother encourages her children in this pursuit, seeing the rules of chess as a representation of the rules of American society.

The booklet that came with the set and explains the rules of the game first exposes Meimei to chess and teaches her the basics of how to play. But later, as she becomes better than her brothers and shows a more lasting interest in the game, she also learns skills and strategies for the game by playing against her much older, much more skilled neighbors outdoors in the park. Later still, when Meimei's skills surpass even those of the neighbors, she becomes a master player by learning from her competitors in championships and by studying alone at home with additional books. Meimei's mother takes exceptional pride in her daughter's mastery of chess.

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Rules of the Game

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