Similes are phrases that an author uses to compare one thing to another. They're typically used to create imagery or a sense of lyricism within the writing, and they can often be identified by the author's use of like or as. This distinguishes them from metaphors, in which one concept is expressed as a direct stand-in for the other.
In "Rules of the Game," Amy Tan uses similes to evoke her vivid memories of her childhood. A subtle example appears early in the narrative:
I learned about the middle game and why tactics between two adversaries are like clashing ideas ...
Later, she explains her demeanor at the chess tournament by likening it to the way an impatient student might behave on a school bus:
I would swing my patent leather shoes back and forth like an impatient child riding on a school bus.
As the story progresses and her emotions heighten, the story's imagery becomes more violent and dramatic. The similes, too, become more aggressive. When she gets mad, she remarks,
My breath came out like angry smoke.
And then, she says later,
The alley was quiet and I could see the yellow lights shining from our flat like two tiger's eyes in the night.