Kindred’s Special: A Winter Knight’s Tale

     On rare occasions I have been enlightened by novel chess attitudes. Such was the case on a cold, dark night when I was trapped in the city due to a blizzard after coming from my club. I had decided to stay in an all-night cafe and found, upon entering, a group deeply engrossed in a chess game at one of the tables. A young man was soundly beating his opponent and, with almost every turn, making with jokes and side remarks to onlookers that I admit were humorous. The chatter brought to mind my visits to the Manhattan Club in New York where Al Horowitz and others would chatter with almost every move that brought laughter and glee from onlookers. The game abruptly ended with: “Checkmate patzer!” The loser stood up and said he had it for the night and was going home. That is when the winner noticed me, my USCF chess bag and exclaimed: “Hey guys, here is a chess player. Sit down and lets see how good you think you are.”

     Not wanting to leave my bag where it might get lost, I accepted but asked if we could use my own board and chessmen. As I removed the chess pieces, he saw the classic and beautiful Staunton set and readily agreed. So I took a white and black pawn in my hands shook them behind my back , held out my fists and let my opponent pick the color. It was black.

     I should note here that courtesy to my opponent, the kibitzers and my own modesty forbids me to give names and notation is recorded in the system used in the game for historical purposes.

       White: The Patzer           Black: NN

                            Ponziani Opening

      1.   P-K4  P-K4  2. N-KB3  N-QB3  3. P-B3  N-B3 4.P-Q3 “A real patzer move! Do you really know how to play this game? ”

The game continued: 4…. P-Q4  5. QN-Q2  PxP 6.PxP B-QB4 7.B-K2  O-O “You are recording a lost game.” Ah, he noticed my deliberation to record this for posterity in my score pad and now I responded with  8. P-KR3   B-K3   9. O-O P-QR4 10. P-QR4 Q-Q2  11. K-R2  Q-K2  12. Q-B2  KR-Q1 “Take a good look patzer because I’m coming to get you.”

     With that he snapped his fingers to get the attention of the waitress and ordered a coke and fries. I said nothing and moved 13. N-B4  B-N3  14. N-N5 I mentioned here that if he expected 14. NxB, it would leave the half-open QB file for his QR and the doubled pawns did not appear all that bad for him. At this point I remember a kibitzer noted that the KP could be captured. I simply said: “Poison.” Just then the coke and fries arrived and as he reached for one of those greasy devils after mounting a good deal of ketchup on them, I said: “You have to use a fork because I won’t permit you to touch my set with greasy hands.”

     He picked up his fork and replied: “I’ll finish this game, patzer, before I finish off the coke and fries.” So with this, he grabbed the bishop and played 14….BxN  15. BxB  R-KB1. One of the kibitzers injected here  that maybe the wrong Rook was moved. 16. Q-K2  P-KR3, 17. N-B3  I noted that the game looked pretty level and he quipped: “I can beat you patzer with half my brain put to bed. Here is a little something for you to think about.”

     17….N-R4? “You recorded a question mark!” I then said:  “That indeed I did, didn’t I.  Did you ever hear about a Knight on the rim?”  That little ploy is called generalship of the finest barb to unease my opponent and deflate his ego just a bit.

     18. P-KN3!! (Just to irritate him more.) QR-Q1 19. N-R4!! continuing to irritate I said nearly under my breath but so all could still hear, “Now! That is a Knight on the Rim.!”

     19….N-B5  20. Q-N4  I could not resist: “My Queenie enters the fray.” to which he continued quickly with 20..P-R4 21. Q-B5  QR-K1  The same onlooker prodded with “You move like a duffer. Where oh where doeth my Rook go?”

     22. BxN  PxB  23.N-N6 This made my opponent wiggle in his britches. I noted that his fries and coke were now in his belly and couldn’t resist advising him of the sins of eating fat and sugar so late at night while playing chess. I asked the waitress who also was now watching the game for a cup of coffee. Then I said: “A pin is mightier than the sword.!”

     “Amen” voiced the audience. With this he snatched up the Queen and played 23….QxP.  24. QxKRP “Oophs, there is a bit of a threat there. Watch it now.”

     “You stink in the opening but I confess you pose me a problem” and dejectedly played 24….PxPch  25. PxP “I always like to improve my opportunities to grow my square count.”

     “What are you talking about? What is this square count thing? This game isn’t over yet.” to which he slammed the Queen on his B7 square with “Check”.

      26. K-R1  Q-K5ch   27.  R-B3    QxN    28.  QxQ     N-K4   29. RxP    NxR “Clever play, patzer! If I took his Queen, he plays R-B5disch.”

       30.  R-KB1    K-R1   31.   B-Q3   N-N4  32.  Q-R5ch  K-N1 33. B-B4ch  N-K3  34. RxRch  KxR  35. Q-B5ch.

     “Patzer, I resign. I misjudged you by that idiotic opening. As a reward for your decisive play, let me pay your bill.”

     The snowfall had subsided and we heard the plows pass by. I thanked them for an interesting evening and chat, gave them a club card and invited them to visit. With my chess pieces and board safely in my chessbag, we departed with light talk and a request to explain sometime what I meant by square count.

     As I drove home, I could not help but envy that little group of friends who met at the all-night cafe once a month for good conversation, chess play, and humorous barbs. That they invited me to partake of their joy and friendly joust made me realize that not all the magic for the night was on the chessboard.




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  9. Jenifer Silkwood Says:

    “Paleontologists think”? Certain, about the exact same way that climatologists “think” that rain comes from clouds, or psychologists “think” that recollections arrive from your brain. There’s a hardly a much more safe phylogeny than Aves…

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