One thing most of my friends know me for is my involvement in the chess world. I really haven’t written many stories involving chess, when this week’s #WOW555 prompt was announced, I thought that this would be a good chance to write a chess story. Your prompt for this week is to dive within. And so, we see the story of a man who could really dive within a position, and another who could dive more deeply. The final little twist is an homage to my author and chess playing friend, Mark Marshall, who told us the story of his draw with a young man many years ago who just made his third GM norm and beat another GM in his early chess career. So, make sure you read all the stories that are about to come out at Wendy’s place, and then, start voting on Saturday!
I remember that day. I moved my head slowly to look at him. His steely blue eyes pierced my soul. He must have seen the despair in my eyes. It was over. I had blundered. A win and I had clear first place. A draw and I tied for first place with him. But I had found a way to blunder.
I shook my head, imperceptibly, I thought. There was no way out. I checked and double checked the board looking for a combination or a strategy that would help me. Nothing. My whole game had pointed to this position. I thought the combinations had been sound, but I just realized that the fifth move in the process left my queen hanging. I rubbed my hand over my lips. They were dry from the nervousness. I ran my fingers through my hair and blinked away tears. I had fought for so long to get this far and now I had messed it up with that sacrifice three moves ago.
Recognizing the inevitable, I took a deep breath and began to utter those words that I never enjoyed saying. I stuck my hand out and said, “I….”
Quickly my opponent broke into my pity party with a voice too loud for the occasion and stuck out his hand. “Would you like a draw?”
I stopped. I looked at him with amazement. I moved my hand over to shake his and blurted out “Yes!”
I took my hand back and breathed a sigh of relief. Then I asked him in a hoarse whisper, “Why? I was just about to resign?”
“I know,” he replied. His voice didn’t carry across the playing hall now. “I could see it in your eyes. I would have loved first prize all by myself, but your game deserved better than to lose by a misguided resignation.”
I looked at him and my eyes narrowed. Silently, I went through the moves I originally planned. Then, I showed him that he could take the queen stopping my checkmate plans. I shrugged and whispered, “It didn’t work.”
He shook his head and smiled. “You didn’t dive deeply enough into the position,” he whispered. Then he played the moves he had seen. After taking my queen, my bishop took his rook. When he took back he then played a knight check for me and showed me the forced checkmate that followed. “The only way for me to avoid the checkmate is to take your knight with my queen. When you take back with the bishop, you end up being ahead by a full piece and two pawns.”
I shook his hand and thanked him. I watched as he left after we put the board and pieces away. I remembered that day as I read that he would be challenging for the world championship. Not only could he “dive deeply” into the position, in his words, he was the high class kind of person the chess world needed.