Have I told you I am a chess fanatic?
Well, I guess I’m the only seventeen year old single adolescent male in this country whose browser history shows more visits to chess.com than to xvideos.
It all started in winter, when waiting for The Rana to finish coating his face with Boro Plus, I found myself gazing at the chessbox that lay abandoned in one corner.
“How about a game? “I asked.
“Sure. As soon as I am done with this. “He said, rubbing gingerly the sides of his nose with a blob of Boro Plus.
I waited patiently for him to finsih his make up job, but every time I thought it was over, he’d squint at the mirror, wrinkle his nose, and apply another peanut-sized mass of India’s most loved body cream to one of the spots he’d left untouched earlier. After a few decades, he was finally done. We raced upstairs to my room and set the board for the battle.
We played a series of odd number of games – maybe five – and The Rana mopped the floor with me. Even though I was supposed to feel destroyed and suicidal, I was mesmerized by his game. He would take my knights and make it a closed game, thus paralyzing my pieces forever. I vowed that I’ll defeat him one day.
And that’s how it started. My obsession with chess.
I instantly subscribed to Mato Jelic’s channel on YouTube and liked his videos with the passion that’s mostly reserved for Mia Khalifa’s facebook updates. Most of the games described were complex, but The Opera Game, in which a guy named Paul Morphy beat the shit out of his opponent in fewer than twenty moves, got me enraptured. I wanted to know who this Paul Morphy was and what kind of food he ate and if he had a wife; I wanted to know everything about him.
Paul Morphy was born in the nineteenth century. He is revered as The Pride and Sorrow of Chess. Pride, because he butchered his opponents ruthlessly, often playing the game without a knight or a rook, or sometimes both. Sorrow, because, he quit playing chess at a young age. Well, I guess there was no chess master left on earth who had not yet been molested by Morphy. Consider yourself a chess king, and consider this – a small guy, whose first set of beard has not yet sprouted, meets you at a table, plays blindfold, without a knight or a rook, or sometimes both, and beats you in fourteen moves. If I were subjected to that kind of humiliation, I’d quit playing chess and run off to Himalaya where no human could ever see me again.
But, despite his stardom and undisputed crown, he began to hate the game. He was so annoyed that a mere mention of chess would give his skin blisters. He never had a wife, but he really loved a girl, who kind of broke his heart saying she wouldn’t marry someone who is “merely a chess player”. Who would not hate chess after this tragedy?
Anyway, I followed his games closely. I was astounded every time he delivered a checkmate or his opponent resigned. I thought I could emulate him. I could be the next Paul Morphy. I just had to throw away my pieces and checkmate my opponent’s goddamn king. When you are Morphy, it’s the easiest goddamn thing to do.
I called The Rana for a three match series.
I played pawn to e4.
The Rana played pawn to e5.
Twenty minutes later, The Rana said for the third time, “checkmate, brother! ”
I think the greatest thing about legends is that they can’t be copied. They can be surpassed or eclipsed or forgotten, but they cannot be copied. That’s what you call swag, I guess.