The King’s Gambit
(originally posted 12/8/2021)
He selects white and moves first. She selects red.
He is playing chess and she is playing checkers.
He begins pawn to e4 with the intention of his next move being the neighboring pawn to f4; the King’s Gambit. A risky opening these days, given that is has been so exhaustively analyzed, except that his opponent can only move her checker piece forward one space. Thus it’s a Gambit declined if only on a technicality.
“Every chess master was once a beginner.” – Irving Chernev
He quickly develops his bishop, at the expense of not being able to castle, and she staunchly refuses to move her checkers off the back line. And so it goes for tense minutes.
“Chess is the struggle against the error.” – Johannes Zukertort
When she loses her first piece she nonchalantly removes her sweater and furrows her brow.
When he loses his first pawn he takes off his hat and leans in a little more intently.
“Chess is rarely a game of ideal moves. Almost always, a player faces a series of difficult consequences whichever move he makes.” – David Shenk
His knight takes another checker and he watches her intently. She does not move. Well, at least not her upper body. Below the table she slips out of her shoes.
“I think I have your proclivities figured out” he says.
“You mean how I play?” she asks.
“That too” he replies.
“I don’t believe in psychology. I believe in good moves.” – Bobby Fischer
She double jumps him. He leans back, surprised. Off come his shoes and socks.
“That’s not really fair. I’m not wearing socks” she notes.
“I didn’t start with a sweater” he counters.
Eventually her checkers can no longer pose a threat to his pieces and he slowly picks her apart. She is down to her panties when his queen eyes her lone rubicund checker voraciously.
“We’ve played long enough” he says simply, “It’s time to mate.”
“Play the opening like a book, the middlegame like a magician, and the endgame like a machine.” – Rudolph Spielmann