Monday, December 16, 2013

Your move, Boris

Recently, I started playing chess online with my friend Mohammed, that's right I have a friend named Mohammed. This, despite all my heated rhetoric about Islamic fascism and the threat it poses to western civilization.

I need to thank Mohammed for getting me back into the game.

I had forgotten how much I love playing.

In college, friends and I would whittle away the hours in front of a chessboard. It was a delusional procrastination technique.

Sure, I wasn't studying Structured Matrices 398 or Nihilism and The Collective Works of Frank Capra, but at least I was engaged in some kind of intellectual pursuit. If you're willing to buy into the notion that moving 16 pieces in a board game constitutes an intellectual pursuit.

Playing chess online is so much better.

Games can go as long as a week online. Because they are played out by correspondence. I'll make a move this morning. And my opponent can respond sometime later in the day. There is no need for us to sit eye to eye, rook to rook in the same room.

It's a little impersonal. And it doesn't share the camaraderie of a fellow student coming back from a Chemistry exam and saying, "Hey, I just got some great Acapulco Gold, let's break out the chessboard and fire up the bong."

In addition to going toe-to-toe with Mo, I've found myself locking horns with players from around the globe. It really is a world wide web.

Right now I'm in a pitched battle with a guy from the Ukraine. He couldn't have a more Russian name. I believe it's Stalinyov Trotleninsky. He is good. He is damned good. And you'd expect noting less, after all Russia is to chess what Canada is to hockey.

His official chess ranking is significantly higher than my 1338. And it is clear that he knows his Sicilian Gambits from his Tarrasch Variations. Nevertheless, I am holding my own against him. In fact, on a pure score count I'm even ahead of him, capturing one of his knights in a classic pinning maneuver.

But Stalinyovski is crafty. And has escaped my clutches in the past. It's clear from his manner of play that he doesn't panic and has a certain Soviet style mental fortitude.

Should I go on to victory it will qualify, at least in my mind, as The Miracle on the Internet.

And you can be sure I'll punctuate that with six finely-chosen letters in the chat box.


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