Monday, September 24, 2012

Short Story Series #2


            Hm, that is a big one if not bigger than that.  How to win something like that time after time?  How?  There should be a possibility of making money there.  Some people do make money there and I want it too.  I know off people that do not anything but play chess and they live very well.  How, again.  Is there a system?  Should be.  In cards, if you want to know what your opponent has, you mark cards.  You use dots, colors, and change patterns on the back of cards.  Some players use misdirection to hide cards in the sleeves, packets and other parts of the clothing.  To do that, you should be good and fast and what if you are not.  If you are caught cheating, bad thing could happen to you and beating is not the worst of it.  You can loose parts of your body and even the head.  They can take you apart part by part.  I shiver just thinking about.  That is not the way to end your day. 
           For a few times, here and there, I tried to mark the chess pieces the opponent had.  It was not difficult.  He goes to get a drink or to the restroom and you mark all pieces.  There is always a chance to do that and, if there is none, you create one by asking for something.  Pawn – one dot; Rook – two dots; Knight – three dots and so on.  All you need is five dots.  My opponent did not see the markings, or saw it and did now show, but I lost anyway.  Why is it?  I marked it well.  Maybe he did notice it.  I bet he did not.  He is not too bright.  This is a tough game to break in but you have to keep trying.  I kept trying changing markings, colors, and ideas.  I tried to mark King with one dot, Queen with two and so on.  It was original and very different.  I bet no one had done it before.  I knew every piece he had; I could see them and, then, I marked them as well.  I knew his pieces better than he did.  I knew his pieces twice while he knew it only once.  I could not miss but still he kept winning.  Was it my fate?  I could not sleep at night, not more then usual eight or ten hours.  I could not eat more than three times a day, not counting a few snacks in between.  My meals were not huge to begin with.  I never ate more than three – four courses at dinner and I still do not.  Now, I could not eat even that much.  I was going out of my mind and I had very little appetite for life.  That is how much it bothered me.  How to win at chess all the time – was on my mind all the time.  It is on my mind even now. 
            Then, I tried to hide pieces.  I had seen it in a movie.  Once, when he stepped out to brink me a cup of coffee, I hided the Queen.  You see, I created the opportunity by asking for coffee.  That was my Queen I hided.  He came back, looked at the board, looked at me, made a move, and said, “Check and Mate.”  That was quick.  Was it my Queen?  Could he know something I did not?  Maybe it was the wrong piece to hide.  Next time, my King was gone.  He came back, looked at the board, looked at me, and said,
           “Where is your King?” 
           “What King?”  I shyly smiled. 
           “Stupid,” he said and went away.
           What just happened?  Did I lose?  Did he win?  Was it a draw?  So, I thought it through again and in much deeper depth.  Maybe I should not hide my pieces like in cards but his.  That was a revelation.  In cards, if a high card like an Ace is gone and only you know that, you have an advantage.  In chess, if something is gone on your side, you have fewer pieces to work with.  That could be your disadvantage.  I felt as I was on something there.  If I hided his pieces and he does not notice that for a while, he has fewer pieces to work with and that could be my advantage.  Next time, I removed one of his Pawns when he went for matches.  All that was back then when we used to smoke to feel better.  Now, we feel better when we do not smoke and feel real great after the open-heart surgery.  That solves more than one issue.  The surgery scar on your chest is a huge fashion statement that works like a magnet for the loose chicks seventy and older.  That scar proves that you had done things and survived.  Well, he did not see the missing Pawn for about two moves and then he said,
            “I had a Pawn there.” 
            “Where?” said I. 
            “There. “  He pointed at a spot. 
            “There?”  I pointed at the spot.  “So, where is it?”  I insisted using the power of my psyche.  It was strong, persuasive, often logical, and sometimes worked but not always to my benefit.  It was my psyche but its loyalty was in question.  I was even ready to show my scar on the chest and I do that only when I am cornered.  I was on the edge.  He slowly counted all pieces he had on and off the board and it were sixteen.  It was the correct number of pieces and numbers never lie.  Well, some numbers could be fuzzy but not all.  Even the government cannot hide it when they are missing a few trillion dollars.  That is how fuzzy it could be.  As I said, numbers do not lie. 
           “They are all here,” he mumbled. 
           “This is chess, my friend.  Pieces cannot just walk away.”  I was happy. 
            Still, I lost the game three moves later.  What did I learn from that?  I think one missing pawn is not enough to secure the victory.  Next time, when opportunity knocked on the chessboard, I removed three Pawns and all from the same flank living the flank wide open.  That is where I should attack and prevail.
             “Where are my Pawns?”  He had an enquiring look.
            “What are you asking?”  I had an enquiring look.
            “Three Pawns from over here.  Where are they?”  His look was hardening but still enquiring.
            “Why are you asking me?  Ask your Pawns.  They are your Pawns and you should know where they are at all times.  That is how Pawns get missing and children too.  Do you know where your children are?”  It was getting a little hot for my taste.  My look was enquiring for the exit.            
            “Sorry, I have to go.  I have a meeting with my Queen and a couple of Bishops.”
             He noticed.  That is not good.  Maybe I removed too many of them.  Maybe it is not quantity but quality.  If I removed his Queen instead, it could fly.  Next time, next time.  There is always next time.  My brain never stopped working.  There should be a better way to cheat at chess.  There are masters and gross-masters.  They cheat.  Don’t they?  Of course, they do, but they do it so well.  They are the greatest.  What do they do I don’t do?  Someone said they play well.  Rubbish.  What do you mean they play well?  You are just moving pieces: up – down, left – right, and sometimes diagonally, if that helps.  You move and they move.  You lose but they win.  Maybe, if you do not watch, they make more moves than you do.  Maybe they make two moves for every one of yours.  Maybe more.  Wow!   That is art.  They are good, fast.  I need to practice.  In the mean time, I can try something else.  I could turn the table around.  Let us play it out.  He is out because you asked him for something.  You turn the board around because you like his position better.  He comes in, sees the board, and says:
            “I was playing Black.”
            “When?”  I sounded surprised.
            “Just now,” he is confused beyond the confusion.
            “Just now?  But you are playing White.”  I pointed at the board with a lot of White pieces on his end. 
            “It was Black when I left to get you some water.”
            “When did you start wearing glasses?”  I felt sorry for my friend.  He was getting old and maybe losing his sight.
            “I don’t wear glasses.”
            “Ah, that is the problem.  You should.  If you wore glasses just now, you would see the White pieces on your side.  Would you like to try mine?”  I was full of best intentions. 
            He finished game playing the White and I lost anyway.  Turning the table did not help and I do not know why.  The whole logic was on my side and there was nothing going for him.  Still, he won.  It could be only luck.  What else?  I never was lucky, not since I lost at something for the first time.  I am still losing at something ever since.  I am a loser.  Blame the society, it made me that way.  There was too much of something or too little of something else.  My life was not balanced the right way and it was not fair, not in the fair way.  Everything I got, I got the hard way.  I had to work hard for every morsel of success and there were not too many of them.  Why the others do not have to do a half as much as I do to gain twice more?  They do not work that hard for their morsels.  This is really unfair.  Really.
             However, wonders never cease.  My sophisticated brain kept going strong working on the problem of winning at chess.  What else was there?  What else I could do to ensure my glory?  Think, think.  What is if I put more pieces on the board right on the beginning of the game?  Then, I could loose pieces the wholesale and still be ahead.  In time, I could tire him chasing my pieces.  There would be so many of them he could not take all.  If fewer pieces on your side leave you in disadvantage, more pieces should give a huge advantage.  That was it.  What pieces would work better?  I think the higher pieces are, the better my position is.  Does it make sense?  Yes, it does and a lot of it.  So, while my opponent was not looking, I added the whole new row.  In chess, they call it the ranks.  I was going for his jugular.  It was like a hot knife on the cold butter.  This brilliant move spelled victory and luck or fate had nothing to do with it.  Now, I had two Kings, two Queens, four Rooks, four Knights, and four Bishops.  It was beautiful, gorgeous, and quite convenient but somehow I had less room to maneuver.  Did I mention, I had the similar chess set at home, so I brought a few pieces with me, in the packet. 
            “What is it?” he even put the cigarette down and that was not normal.  His face expressed shock or something very similar to that.
            “What is?”  I looked around desperately searching for a problem bothering him.  I could not see anything wrong.
            “Why do you have more pieces than I do?”
            “That is the way it supposed to be, I guess.  It was that way when I came in.  Why did you do it?”  I questioned his sanity and the rules of the game.
            “I did not do it,” he was shaking with anger or maybe just a slight chill coming from the window.  The window was open due to our smoking.  It was working like the hole on the top of Teepee.  Smoke could escape when it was not wanted.
            “Then, who?  It was like this when I came in.  Maybe that is the way it supposed to be.”  I was strong, holding my position.
            “Then, why I have fewer pieces than you?”  He was not smoking at the moment but smoke was coming from his ears.
            “How do I know?  Maybe that is the way it supposed to be.”  I am not sure if I finished the sentence but he grabbed the chessboard and hit me over the head.  The board did not break I felt pain.  It entered my head and could not escape.  My brain was on fire and for what. 
            I really did not like how our last game ended.  Who won?  After all, chess was a very dangerous game.  Go figure.  I always took it for a slow motion, impossible to watch game of the brains.  But, there could be so much action there.  Boxing and wrestling move over.  Baseball – just go away.  Football, do not even enter.  Frankly, that was my last chess game ever.  You see, I do not like violence.  Violence of chess does not lead to anything good.  What is in it for the young generations?  Who could be the role model there?  Is that the one, who hit the other with the board, or the one hit with the board?  And, how do you watch the chess game?  You have to be very close to see anything.  The Yankee stadium would not work unless you seat right on the grass and watch it grow.  Yes, this is like to watch grass grow, almost as golf or the square dancing.  No, I rather watch TV and the action on the screen.  Let them being hit by anything.  Let them worry.  By the way, how do you cheat in bowling?

by Boris Zubry

About The Author-

Boris Zubry was born in the Soviet Union in 1951.  After earning a master's degree in mechanical engineering, he renounced Soviet citizenship and left the Soviet Union in 1978. In 1979 he received permission to enter the United States and became a U.S. citizen in 1984. He has worked as an engineer throughout the United States and abroad and currently lives in Princeton, New Jersey. 

Mr. Zubry is also author of: “Miles of Experience” – collection of short stories; “Arrogance of Truth” – collection of satiric short stories and poetry; “Chess Master” – a thriller; “Puska” – a novel, and numerous technical publications.