Rules of the Game Summary by Amy Tan

Story of a Family

The story is about family dynamic and relationships. It is based in California. The main character is a girl named Waverly Jong. She has two siblings and loving parents. Like any protective parent, her mother is very critical and judgmental of all her actions. She tries to teach her daughter good ‘Chinese’ values but can often be rude.

Waverly loves to play and frolic with his brothers on the street. However, she finds her true calling in another sport. One day, after Church, her brother gifts a chess set. Even though her mother does not approve of gifts, the kids start to play the game. Waverly also joins in. Soon, she becomes better at it than her brothers.

As her success fuels her desire to learn, she reads books on the game and keeps improving. To test her skills, she even challenges the old man in the Park for a match. She gets beaten but her performance impresses the old man who decides to tutor her.

Waverly Shines

Under new mentorship, Waverly begins to shine. Her mother brushes her wins as mere lucky but deep inside she is proud of her accomplishments.

Climbing the ladder of success, Waverly ends up becoming a national chess champion. However, it comes at the price of her childhood and innocent fun on the streets. Her life becomes restricted to school and practice.

To make matters worse, she has to bear the constant scrutiny of her mother. Her mother even takes her out to the market and bag about her accomplishments publicly. 

Waverly Runs Away

Waverly finally snaps and tries to run away from her mother, her home and the constant control. However, she is only nine and soon realizes that there is no other place for her to go to. Deflated and confused she returns home to a disgruntled mother and disapproving family.

She goes to her room and ponders over her options. She realizes that her mother is the fiercest chess competitor she has ever faced and must come with an intelligent plan to topple her.

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