Rules of the Game Characters
A Caucasian Man
Earlier in her childhood, a caucasian man poses Waverly and her friends in front of Hong Sing’s Chinese café and then takes their picture. The Fifteen-Year-Old Boy In Waverly’s first chess tournament, she squares off against a fifteen-year-old boy, who wrinkles his nose at her, obviously not impressed by the eightyear- old.
In the story, Bobby Fischer—who in real life is the youngest chess player ever to be awarded the rank of grand master—shows up in a Life article next to Waverly Jong’s picture, where he is quoted as saying that there will never be a woman grand master.
Lindo Jong, Waverly’s mother, teaches her daughter and two sons the art of invisible strength, a number of Chinese wisdoms that can be used when developing strategies for winning arguments, respect, and in Waverly’s case, the game of chess. Lindo’s English is stilted, and she speaks in short, clipped phrases, which Waverly often views as criticism, especially when her mother is hanging over her shoulder giving advice while she practices her chess games. Lindo is very vigilant over what her children say and do, and is a very proud woman who generally exhibits proper Chinese humility in public. A good example is when her son, Vincent, receives a used and broken chess set at the church Christmas party. She acts gracious in public, but when they get home, she tells Vincent to throw the game out, saying that they do not need other people’s trash. Vincent does not listen, and when he is reading the chess rulebook, Lindo speaks up, saying that the rules of chess are just another set of American rules, and that she, too, had to learn American rules before they would let her into the country.
She cautions Waverly that it is not wise to ask why a rule is the way it is—instead, it is better to find out for yourself. This piece of advice helps Waverly to develop her chess technique. Lindo is supportive of Waverly’s chess playing, watching from the crowd when Waverly plays in the park on weekends. At these times, she is properly humble according to Chinese custom, saying that Waverly’s winning is just luck. However, after Waverly starts to win more tournaments and becomes a national chess champion, Lindo starts to show Waverly off to others in public. Waverly is embarrassed by her mother’s behavior and says so one day, which sparks an argument. Waverly runs away, and when she returns home later that evening, Lindo tells her she is no longer a concern of hers. Waverly goes to her room and tries to figure out what to do next.
Vincent Jong, one of Waverly’s two older brothers, introduces her to the game of chess. At the annual church Christmas party, he receives a used chess set that is missing a couple of pieces. When Waverly offers to give him Life Savers to use in place of the missing chess pieces, Vincent allows her to play with him and Winston, Waverly’s other brother. Vincent tries to explain the rules of the game to Waverly, but she is confused at first. Like Winston, Vincent tires of playing chess after Waverly repeatedly beats him at the game, and the two brothers start to play cowboys instead, prompting Waverly to seek out Lau Po as a chess opponent.
Waverly Place Jong
Waverly Place Jong, the narrator and protagonist of the story, uses her mother’s art of ‘‘invisible strength’’ to achieve national fame as a chess champion. The novel begins with Jong recalling when she was six years old and her mother taught her the art of invisible strength—a collection of Chinese wisdoms that can be adapted to many life situations and, in the case of the Jongs, help them to rise above their circumstances. Waverly is fascinated by the Chinatown alley in which she lives, where she and her brothers, Vincent and Winston, peer into Chinese shops like Li’s medicinal herb store or Hong Sing’s, a Chinese café. Waverly’s mother has named her after the street they live on, Waverly Place— also a...
(The entire section is 1,296 words.)