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Chess Queen

By Julie C. Judes
Published in ART TIMES June 2015

Did I overturn the table, scattering the chess pieces all over the floor? No. Did I tell my opponent that he could take a king piece and “stick it where the sun doesn’t shine?” No. Did I remove the chess clock from the table, place it on the floor, and smash it with my shoe? No. Did I grab my opponent’s notebook wherein he records his game moves, tear it into confetti-sized pieces, and toss them over my head? No. Did I grab my opponent’s Bobby Fischer Bible and torch it? No.

Of course not. I am an oh-so-polite lady. I quietly announced my resignation, stood up, exited the tournament room, and informed the tournament organizer that I was withdrawing from the event. Naturally, I raged all of the way home in the car, my husband being the lucky recipient of my happy mood.

“I will NEVER, EVER play chess again! That’s it; all of our chessboards, chess pieces, and the chess clock will summarily be stuffed into a large plastic bag and driven to the nearest Good Will AS SOON AS WE GET HOME! It's open until 9:00 p.m. and there's plenty of time to get there. I think I want to learn how to play Sheepshead instead. It seems like everyone has a great time playing it – there's a lot of laughing, hooting and hollering, and it gives one the impression of a happy, relaxed atmosphere."

What about my chess jewelry, the cute little chess charms sewn onto one of my favorite sweaters, my humorous chess t-shirts, my chess pieces shaped cookie cutters? Well, I'll deal with them tomorrow.

Why bother playing chess at all? Why aggravate myself? Why torment myself? Why brood and complain that I should have played better?

"I should have moved my black bishop out of the way. How could I have not seen that he was in jeopardy?"

"I should have paid more attention to what space my opponent's conniving knight could land on. I was put in check AND I lost my queen. I was done for!"

"My poor king got checkmated because my opponent's rooks trapped him. I feel like a dolt."

"I cannot believe that I allowed one of my opponent's pawns to reach the other side of the board and become a second queen! Was I blind?"

"I could have captured my opponent's white bishop, but didn't see the move until it was too late."

Fun? I don't think so. And, don't get me started on ratings. Never mind that my numerical rating is so low that a 7-year-old can count that high. Speaking of 7-year-olds, I have been soundly defeated by 7-year-old chess smarties. Also, I have no great desire to spend endless hours analyzing past chess games, memorizing chess openings, mid games and end games. There is no way I would ever hire a chess coach to help me improve my game – the thought does not appeal to me at all.

So, my mind is made up. From this moment on, chess will no longer be a part of my life. Oh, no. I have opera, cooking, baking, knitting, bicycling, and a multitude of other hobbies to keep me engrossed for the rest of my days. That's it, case closed, nothing else to say, my decision is final.

Except, well, maybe I'll just finish this game. It will be my Swan Song. You see, there's something magical about chess. It's rather similar to when I bake a cake. All of the ingredients are sitting in front of me – the flour, sugar, baking powder, butter, salt, vanilla, eggs, and cocoa - ready to be mixed, beaten, poured, to be made into something delicious. Once in a while something goes awry and the cake turns out to be dry, burned on the edges, flat, or tasteless. However, I know I will bake another cake. It's too tempting to look at cooking ingredients and not try to create something tasty.

And so it is with chess. There is potential in every chess game for creativity and excitement, and each game is rife with endless possibilities. At the beginning of the game, the pieces are lined up, ready to go, ready for me to order them around on the battlefield. I am their Commander-in-Chief, their Chess Queen. As it should be, my queen piece is the most powerful piece on the board, able to move in any direction, near and far. My bishops are able to stealthily move diagonally, my knights hop scotch around the board, my rooks move horizontally and vertically, able to box in an unprotected king. My pawns are my gallant foot soldiers, often sacrificing themselves for the common good and once in a great while able to reach the other end of the board and be transformed into a second queen. My king? Well, my old guy is only able to move a square at a time, yet he, too, is a fighter and is able to capture pieces himself. Chess is an intricate dance of infinite patterns, of designs, of strategies.

Okay, so it's your turn. Hurry up already and move! What IS it with you?

(Julie C. Judes lives in Glendale, WI)