Meimei becomes interested in chess when her brother gets a chess set for Christmas.
Vincent is given a used chess set at a church Christmas party. It was a donation, and is missing pieces. Their mother tells him to throw it away, but they immediately begin playing with it. Meimei is enthralled.
The chessboard seemed to hold elaborate secrets waiting to be untangled. The chessmen were more powerful than old Li's magic herbs that cured ancestral curses. And my brothers wore such serious faces that I was sure something was at stake ….
As she watches her brother play, Meimei is enthralled. Chess is mysterious and exciting to her. Her brothers refuse to let her play until she offers up Life Savers to replace the missing pieces. The winner got to eat them! She asks Vincent a lot of questions at first, but he teaches her how to play. Curious to know more, she looks up everything else in the library.
She loves the “secrets” of chess, and the advantage that knowing more than your opponent gives you. Before long, she will become a chess prodigy.
One of the most important elements of the story is that once you find something you love, it sets you free. Meimei enjoyed chess, and loved being good at it. It made her an individual and gave her something to be proud of.
In the story "Rules of the Game" by Amy Tan, Meimei is first exposed to chess when he brother receives a chess set as a present at a church Christmas party.
My older brother Vincent was the one who actually got the chess set. We had gone to the annual Christmas party held at the First Chinese Baptist Church at the end of the alley. The missionary ladies had put together a Santa bag of gifts donated by members of another church.
When we got home, my mother told Vincent to throw the chess set away. "She not want it. We not want it." she said, tossing her head stiffly to the side with a tight, proud smile. My brothers had deaf ears. They were already lining up the chess pieces and reading from the dog-eared instruction book. I watched Vincent and Winston play during Christmas week. The chessboard seemed to hold elaborate secrets waiting to be untangled.
While watching her brothers play chess, Meimei develops the strong desire to play chess as well. They only agree to let her play when her lifesaver candies serve as the replacement for two missing pieces, and the winner is allowed to eat both. She is enraptured by the secrets that the game holds. She then comes to befriend an old man playing chess in a park and learns even more of these secrets from him.
Many individuals watch Meimei play in the park. One spectator suggests that she compete in tournaments, and this begins her career as a chess player.
Who becomes Meimei`s new adversary in chess? Why must she find someone else to play against?