1994 - 1995


Hey, man, don't mess with chess
by Dan Maigler

I have never been known to be a brave man. In fact, I've never really done anything of worth or note. To fill the pages of the textbook boring story I call my life I decided to do something dangerous. It may have been foolish; looking back now on the emotional scars and ego whooping I took I'm not sure it was worth it. Still, now I can say I've done it. I've dared to go where few have gone and from which none have returned. I have gone to a chess club practice.
I strode cautiously into the library after school one fateful Tuesday afternoon. I had decoded the morning announcements to find out where this secret occult gorup meets. I ventured past the tables where my friends congregated in the morning, past the bookshelves stocked with who knows what (it could be books, but no one has ever checked) and the little clearing nestled snugly in the back I saw them. Against the backdrop of the legendary Freedom Shrine I saw gorups of apprently normal looking kids playing chess on rubber roll-out mats. "Are you here for chess?" Mrs. Jacobsen asked in a sweet but slightly suspicious way.
"Yes," I said. "Me like chess. Chess good."
"Okay, Dan, since everyone else is currently involved in a game, why don't you play against me?" she asked. Her smile was saying to me, "Go ahead, make my day!"
A lesser man would have turned tail and ran, but I was here for a reason and I wasn't about to leave until I'd seen what the club was all about. So I mutely nodded my head and allowed myself to be led to a table right by the Declaration of Independence. I slid into my chair. I was about to mention the fact that we didn't have one of the roll-out boards when she was called away on some library matter.
I ran up to the box where the boards and pieces were kept. I grabbed a set and trotted back to the table. My adrenaline was pumping. I was ready for chess. Unfortunately, when examining the roll-out board, my weight lifter intellect took over and I rolled it into a ball and popped it into my mouth, as one would do a fruit roll-up. As I gobbled away Mrs. Jacobsen returned and I tried to explain my mistake but my mouth was fo full that all I could do was slobber on the table. After wiping my spittle off her glasses she just smiled and snapped her fingers, Fonzie style. The table we were seated at flipped over and there was a beautiful opal and diamond chess set on a marble board.
I gasped and she said, "Make a move" in a tone that suggested, "If you dare!" I've played chess all my life and while my brotoher beats me most of the time, I'm okay. At least I don't call the knights horses and the rooks castles. I kenw, however, that I was no match for the mster I was playing.
As I reached forward to move my ornately carved pawn I felt a strange energy over the board. Upon touching the piece I was transported into an imaginary worldof chess. I was the king and I was surrounded by gleaming white soldiers, all prepared to do my bidding. I gazed across the checkered plain and was greeted by a sight more formidable than any I had ever encountered. The opposing king was a tall robust figure clad in an outfit hauntingly similar to that of Darth Vader. Most shocking, however, was the head. Crowned with a circlet of jet black obsidian, the face of any angry Dr. Cachur stared across at me. To his right was Mrs. Jacobsen, his bishops were [Assistant Principals] Mr. Adamo and Dr. Borowiak, the knights were Officers Pete and Francis, and the rooks were Deans Bidda and Bovenmeier. As if that wasn't daunting enough, the pawns were a motley crew of fierce library ladies and bloodthirsty hall monitors. One by one my comrades were crushed into little piles of dust until I was left all alone. Any student of chess can tell you that it is impossible for a king to win by himself. I am sure I would have been killed right then and there had Officer Francis not fallen off his horse and distracted everyone enough to allow me to escape. I leapt from the board and found myself panting in my chair.
"Better luck next time," Mrs. Jacobsen said and with a snap of her fingers the board vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
One might expect that after this experience I might have run for my life. I must admit I've become a bit of a chess addict. Call me a daredevil, call me a fool. I can't help myself. I'm living on the edge. In chess, two minds lock in moral combat and the action can be quite intense. In fact, while I was playing my first game, several students' heads burst into flames just from thinking too hard. Chess is not a game for everyone. It requires a strategic mind and a taste for blood. If you think you can hack it go to chess club. That is, if you dare.