by Adam Katz for Khopesh Ltd.
One day, on the streets in Boston after viewing a movie in the early evening, I came across one of those street workers with the chess boards. A middle-aged man, he had dark, graying hair and a few wrinkles on his face. Tinted glasses covered what must have been aged eyes, and his goatee seemed out of place considering his age and clothes; he was dressed in a robe made to imitate eastern monk's costume. Since his attire reminded me of the movie I had just left, I decided to show him a thing or two about this old war game.
We flipped a coin for who would be white, since we both wanted to initiate the game, and I lost. I now believe that he had used a double-headed coin, as he even stated that he had never had to forfeit the right to play first.
I began a series of moves that I had learned from a book, which would convince a well-trained mind to believe that my left bishop would lock him into a check-mate with my knight as the key assailant while in reality the bishop only drew his queen to an open position, allowing me to corner it with pawns. While he would move to protect his queen (and remember to watch my knight-bishop attack), I would employ a three-move win with my queen and rook that completely avoided the area.
To my surprise, he tricked me by pretending to move his bishop to save his queen, then sacrificing the wife for the pawn directly in front of my king, goading me to simply remove the priest. Here, I made my mistake; I took the templar. Unbeknownst to me, his knight would block my only escape from his pawn, that's right, p a w n, which marked my undoing while I stupidly messed with his queen.
Not only did this man take my five dollars, he also declared the author of the rare book from which I had learned the maneuver I had attempted.
I learned a great lesson that day, one I'll be sure not to forget. Never bet your skill against a professional . . . unless you yourself are an expert and/or have predetermined through example that the "professional" isn't so keen. Oh, and I suppose that I also learned to examine a coin before it is flipped.
Perhaps I'm not so great a chess champ after all; I'm no expert, and I haven't played a good game of chess since the incident. Or perhaps I can't even beat my computer on "easy" mode and this is all a fabrication.
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