Wednesday, July 11, 2007

On the playing of Huge Chess

This afternoon Rachel and I were sitting around, trying to figure out what to do for supper after an oral recitation of chapter 12 of the Hobbit. After some deliberation and talk of frozen pizza, I suggested that we go out for supper, to which Rachel suggested that go to the food court in the mall. (How she turned supper into a trip to the mall is something that only feminine wiles could accomplish, I'm sure of it.)

So we went and ate some mall Chinese food (a genus altogether separate from actual Chinese food). After eating, we had to "walk it off" in Rachel's words. So off we tramped through the mall.

It wasn't long before we reached Victoria's Secret, a realm into which the male is viewed with disdain and suspicion. Rachel, in her manner of great mercy, said that I didn't have to go in with her... this time. So in she went, and out stayed I.

Now, outside this particular undergarment store, there is a landmark of particular interest to nerds of my persuasion. A gigantic chess set, with a king as high as your average ten-year-old. The pieces are, of course, always set about in a particularly unruly fashion, as is like to happen in a place where teenage boys roam in herds unchecked. So I set it upon myself to right them.

I was just finished the final row of the darker brown pieces, when a young boy, about twelve, started wandered onto the board and started messing around with the white pieces. Eventually, when I'd righted all the dark pieces, I looked back at the white side and realized that this was a kid who knew his way around a chess board, as his pieces mirrored mine, minus two missing pawns.

He looked at me, looked at his pieces, then moved a pawn ahead two spaces. I cocked an eyebrow at him.

"Is that your opening move?"

He didn't say anything, just looked down at the black tile he was standing on. I repeated the question. Still nothing. So, seeing nothing else for it, I moved the pawn in front of my rook ahead two spaces.

What ensued was one of the more entertaining chess games I've ever played in a long time. We used two quarters to make up for the lost pawns, easily replaced once I started taking his pawns. I would grab the heads of my pieces with one hand and fling them about with manly strength while he hugged and dragged his pieces into mine. Eventually we had spectators coming and going, each of us pulling our kills to the side.

I was contemplating what to do with my knight when I heard someone say the dreaded word.


I looked at the board. Neither of us was near checkmate. It was his mother, who had apparently been looking for him.

"C'mon, game's over, we have reservations, Honey."

He looked the board over again, looked up at me.

"Who's winning?" his mother asked me.

"Honestly, I can't tell at this point," I replied, even thought I knew it was probably me.

He moved my bishop out of the way and sent his own in for my king, pushing it, with great effort, off the board. I laughed, told him "good game" and watched him walk down the hall, hand in hand with his mother.

He never said a word to me and I never learned his name.
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