It was a perfect night in the Adirondacks, in April, when the gentle showers promise to bring the lovely early blooming flowers of May. Ok, it was snowing just a little–maybe 5 or so inches were predicted for tonight, and the temperature was hovering around 19 degrees.
Like I said, it was a perfect Spring night to have a fire and settle in with a hot toddy–and play a game of chess. Yes, it was a perfect night.
My wife claims to have little knowledge of the game. She has spurned my many attempts, offerings, begging to play a game with me. After all, we have several chess sets. One is a small magnet item that you play when you’re on the road. I’ve had it with me for at least four European trips, but we never played a game. Maybe the fact that the size of the pieces were so small that I needed a magnifier to see and determine whether I was moving a pawn or a king.
But, I knew the game. I had been playing since the 1960’s. I played at least one game against a friend by sending moves on post cards. It was a long game. But, that was back in the days when there were Post Offices, and blank post cards. Now, I have an App for chess, and I usually win–but I set the level at the lowest skill available. Ok sometimes I win.
So, Mariam agreed to play a game. I was elated. Finally, a chance to win at something. (She kills me in Scrabble, but so does everyone else).
I won’t list every move like they do in the New York Times. Let’s just say she beat me in our first game. She went to bed and I dug around for my Chess Bibles.
I found it: Chess For Dummies!
I usually opened with Pawn to Queen 4. ( I’m using an older notation..haven’t figured out the new one yet. )
This was our second game since 1994, and I felt I was in trouble by the mid-game.
[Mariam is white}
I studied her face. She was a model of composure. But, something suggested to me that she knew more than she was letting on.
I tried the Sicilian Defense. I went for the Philidor Defense (but it was too late). It was too late for the King’s Gambit, the Double Stonewall Formation, the Scheveningen Formation was clearly out of the question.
I ended up losing to Mariam in a classic pawn-king kill.
That’s when I went online, to see who I was actually playing.
There she was! Listed in the International Chess Federation rankings. She was just behind her legendary uncle, Hampartsoum Haroutunian, a math and philosophy professor at a university near Istanbul. The Turks tried to poison him during the Armenian Holocaust. Something the Turks won’t admit to, even to this day.
I was surprised to find that Mariam was listed just above Kim Kardashian, known around the world for her chess brilliance.
I guess I just have to read more Chess For The Complete Idiot books. Maybe then, I’ll stand a ghost of a chance to check-mate her.