Confident Castle

I organized a chess club and a team
once upon a time in my college days.
On occasional weekends we would go
to team chess events, often quite a ways.

On the team of four I was the first board,
which meant I was the best player we had.
Unfortunately, that was no great claim,
as a group we were a mark above bad.

Still, we would get a win or draw each round
and celebrated when we won a match.
When we won a share of cash in our class
we were sure it was a great upset catch.

One game in particular I recall;
my opponent thought and moved very slow
while I played my moves very rapidly.
As we played I saw his discomfort grow.

The simple fact was as he planned each move
I was able to figure it first and
by the time he actually played it
I already had my reply in hand.

I gained a positional advantage
and saw a combination I could play.
Eagerly, I plunged in with my Castle
forgetting my Knight should’ve led the way.

I realized my mistake; if he did
as well, I was in trouble. If he took
my Castle I came off worse in the trade.
I had to hope he did not take my Rook.

I kept a smile on my face and waited,
looking at parts of the board and chessmen
as if plotting to spring the trap I’d set;
some deep, involved plan far beyond his ken.

He thought long, looked miserably at me,
and then he thought some more; my mood improved.
At the end of an agonizingly
Long think time (for him and for me) he moved.

He had not taken it! I quickly pounced
and exploited the advantage I’d won.
With a very few additional moves,
his position caved in and he was done.

I firmly believe he saw the right move,
but convinced himself I had some reply
he could not fathom and so shied away;
and that was all I needed to get by.


    • Thank you very much for your comment, and thank you for following The Peaceful Pub. We are a group of posters, so be sure to read and leave your link on the works of the others as well.

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    • Sarah, this photo is sized correctly at 500 x 500 pixels. As I noted on your post, when I did some investigation I noticed that the screen where we can upload photos/images resizes everything to 900 x 900.

      If you still have doubts, I can send you the original photo so you can see where I added the white space at the top and the bottom to make it the correct size.

      With WordPress resizing uploaded photos/images to 900 x 900, I can’t help wondering if a 900 x 900 original language would also work. (No, I won’t be the one to try it!)


  1. Hi Michael

    An interesting scenario and one that does show the sly and keen mind of the narrator. Very nicely told!

    Thanks for sharing,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Wendy. This is a true story, and happened in my 1975-76 college year.

      It was a contrast of styles: I am an unusually fast mover most of the time, and he was very slow. Tournament chess games have a time limit and he used all of his time up to the last minute before playing the last move of the first time control (time controls are usually for a set number of moves – reach that, and you have a new block of time for the next set of moves).

      As we played I was consistently able to predict his move down to one or two possibilities and have my reply ready for each of them. When he moved, I would look over the board to double check and make my move. Therefore, he was having to do all his thinking on his own time. He became more and more uncomfortable, and at one point muttered to himself “what is this, a speed chess champion?”

      I was having the time of my life, which probably is what made me get careless. He had a weak point in his position, and I had two moves with which to attack it. I grabbed my Rook and moved it first when I needed to lead with my Knight. The difference was that if he chose to capture the Rook, my recapture would only take a Knight or a Bishop (I forget which). I would break his position, nevertheless, but at a cost.

      The one thing in my favor at that time was he was getting close to that first time control. I knew I had him out of his element, so I put on my best poker face. I looked at other parts of the board, and pieces away from the action, and smiled at him whenever he looked up at me. In retrospect, I feel a little sorry for him.

      When he finally moved, he avoided capturing my Rook. As I say in the poem, I am absolutely convinced that he saw it and wanted to take it, but could not bring himself to actually do it.


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