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The Game

© Alex Shternshain

 

CURTAIN RISES

We are on a set that looks, strangely, like the inside of a human brain. Sitting around an upright demonstration chessboard, are four people. Those are: MEMORY, EXPERIENCE, ANALYSIS and INSPIRATION.

MEMORY is dressed in a smart corporate three-piece suit. EXPERIENCE is clad in some very old tattered robes. ANALYSIS is wearing an accountantís vest and glasses, and carries an abacus. INSPIRATION is dressed in a painterís smock, covered in multicolored splatters of paint.

Behind them, there is a window shaped like a human eye Ė from the inside. MEMORY has just finished setting the pieces on the demo-board into an initial position.

INSPIRATION: All right Memory, what do we have today? Iím eager to start!

MEMORY: Some 1920-rated player. Our boss is black.

INSPIRATION: Whatís his name?

MEMORY: Excuse me? Our bossí name is Jeremy Whitman, and thatís the last time
I have to remind that to you.

ANALYSIS: I think he meant to ask whatís the 1920 guyís name.

MEMORY: I don't remember.

ANALYSIS: You donít remember? How can you not remember, youíre Memory, for crying out loud!

MEMORY: I didnít get the chance! The Boss glanced over that part of the pairingsí sheet too quickly! I remember the rating, the table, our color, but he skimmed the name too fast, before I had a chance to connect to the Optic Nerve.

INSPIRATION: Some Memory you are...

EXPERIENCE: Okay, kids, letís not fight. No need to upset Memory over this trivial detail, we're going to need his services ASAP. See, the game is already starting. Analysis, give us a reading.

ANALYSIS: Why me? Donít tell me, I know, no Analysis in the opening. Fine, Iíll be your messenger boy for now. (Looks out the window). Ok, the pieces are set; the boss is adjusting the knights Ė facing forward, the way he likes it; the handshake; and, Pawn to King Four.

INSPIRATION: I hate it when you do descriptive notation.

ANALYSIS: As if someone asked you. Experience is the one calling the shots, right?

EXPERIENCE: At this stage of the game, Iíll let Memory into the driverís seat.

MEMORY: Algebraic please.

ANALYSIS: Fine. 1.e4.

Note: From now and on, bold type indicates moves actually played in the game. One of the characters will always make the same move on the demonstration board as soon as itís announced, so the board position always reflects the actual game position.

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MEMORY: Long Algebraic.

ANALYSIS: 1.e2-e4.

MEMORY: Thank you. (Whispers to Experience) I donít really need the long notation, just wanted to piss him off. (Back to normal voice) Now, on e4, we have ...

INSPIRATION (Interrupts): Woo hoo! I love e4! We get to counterattack!

EXPERIENCE: Inspiration, please be quiet for a moment. You will have your time, but move 1 is certainly not it. Memory, what do we have on e4?

MEMORY: As I was starting to say before Mr. Scribble here interfered, we can either go e5, which is solid, or c5, which is more combative. Boss is okay with either.

INSPIRATION: I lean toward c5 myself.

MEMORY: I say e5, just to spite you.

EXPERIENCE: Hmm. I'll defer my judgment until I hear what Analysis has to say.

ANALYSIS: Letís see, the other guy is 1920, right? And boss is 1997. Boss is black... (Fiddles with abacus) so this means that a draw, while costing us a couple of points, is still a reasonable result. No need to go all-out for a win. I vote e5.

INSPIRATION: Everyoneís a Grandmaster. Come on, people, have some guts!

EXPERIENCE: 1Öe5 it is. Donít worry, Inspiration, your time will come.

Through the window, we see chess-piece-shaped shadows move.

ANALYSIS: 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 was played.

MEMORY: Ruy Lopez. Against the Ruy, we always play the good old C78.

EXPERIENCE: For the love of Lasker, can you speak normally? What on Earth is C78?

MEMORY: For the associatingly-oriented and the recollection-impaired, that would be the Archangelsk variation.

INSPIRATION: I love the Archangelsk! Chase away his Bishop, place our own on b7, the other Bishop on c5, what a powerful counterattack!

ANALYSIS: I am wary of this opening. He can pin the knight with Bg5, very unpleasant.

MEMORY: Respectfully, this is my turf yet. Besides, on Bg5 we can go h6 and then g5.

EXPERIENCE: A somewhat shaky kingside position, isnít it?

MEMORY: It turned out okay for black in Dolmatov-Beliavsky, 1990.

EXPERIENCE: Weíll take your word for it. Walk us through.

MEMORY: 3...a6 now. He can retreat or exchange. Give me some readings.

ANALYSIS: He went 4.Ba4.

INSPIRATION: b7-b5 now!

MEMORY: No, 4...Nf6 now, b7-b5 next move, assuming he castles.

INSPIRATION: Why next move? Why not now?

MEMORY: Because this is what everyone plays.

INSPIRATION: Stop being such a copycat!

EXPERIENCE: Inspiration, I warn you...

ANALYSIS: White castled. 5.0-0

MEMORY: b5, then Bb7.

ANALYSIS: 5Öb5 6.Bb3 Bb7 7.Re1 played.

MEMORY: I like Re1!

All three turn their bewildered faces toward him.

EXPERIENCE: Did you just say you like Re1? I thought you were incapable of emotion.

MEMORY: Live and learn, baby. After Re1, I have the lines memorized for at least 2-3 moves deeper than after any other white move. Woohoo, go me!

INSPIRATION: Darn. Heís got such a stranglehold over the game now. I wonder if I will ever get to play.

MEMORY: 7...Bc5 is the move.

ANALYSIS: I donít like the fork trick 7...Bc5 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.d4

MEMORY: This trick was never played in my database. Hence it doesnít work.

EXPERIENCE: Thatís a bit of a feeble explanation, isn't it?

MEMORY: 8.Nxe5 cannot possibly work. Had it worked, someone would have played it by now.

EXPERIENCE: I still say we let Analysis take a stab at it.

MEMORY: Fine. But I say itís a waste of time.

ANALYSIS: Letís see: 7...Bc5 8.Nxe5 ... I recapture... 9.d4 ... attacks two pieces, and now what do I have ... need some counterattackÖ

INSPIRATION: 9...Nfg4!

ANALYSIS: Way to go, man! And if he takes the bishop 10...Qh4 finishes him.

EXPERIENCE: I concur. The fork trick doesnít work for white.

MEMORY: See? I was right all along. Letís go, 7...Bc5.

Shadows of light and darkness move across the window. Memory walks over and takes a look.

MEMORY: 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 Ė so far so good.

EXPERIENCE: White is thinking hard. Heís out of book.

MEMORY: First round, victory to us! Sorry, did I say Ďusí, I meant Ďmeí.

INSPIRATION: Show-off.

LIGHTS GO OUT for a few seconds to signify the passage of time. LIGHTS GO ON again.

INSPIRATION: Heís thinking for ten minutes already. Whatís going on?

MEMORY: Someone forgot to study their C78.

EXPERIENCE: I think we need to get ready for possible responses. Analysis, what can white play?

MEMORY: Oh, please, Iím ready for anything. He canít take me out of book with any half-decent move until at least five more moves.

INSPIRATION: 10.a4 played!

MEMORY: (recites) An innocuous variation, usually played with the intent to avoid the sharp struggle in the line 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bg3 g5.

EXPERIENCE: Youíre not here for positional evaluations. Give me a move, if you can.

MEMORY: We can just castle. Tell the boss to go ahead with 10Ö0-0

EXPERIENCE: Okay, letís do it.

MEMORY: No, wait!

EXPERIENCE: Wait for what? The boss already picked up his king.

MEMORY: Itís 10...h6 11.h3 and only then castling. I mixed up the move order.

EXPERIENCE: The man is stuck there with the king in his hand, because you told him to castle! Do you have any idea how serious this is?

ANALYSIS: If he picked up the king already, he must castle. No better king move is available.

EXPERIENCE: All right, letís do it. (To Memory) How could you! This is going in my report!

ANALYSIS: Fine mess we made, trusting this guy. Now white can pin the knight, and the maneuver with h6 and g5 doesnít work, because white sac a knight on g5.

EXPERIENCE: Well, find something. Dig us out of this hole, Analysis!

MEMORY: Wait, I remember something.

EXPERIENCE: Shut up. Youíre out.

MEMORY: Out?

EXPERIENCE: You heard me. Iím cutting you out of this game.

MEMORY: You canít cut me out.

EXPERIENCE: Watch me. Analysis, what do we have?

ANALYSIS: Leaving the knight pinned looks bad. Unpinning with g5 is even worse Ė Nxg5 hxg5 Bxg5 followed by Qf3. Opening the center with exd4 doesnít look too hot either.

MEMORY: No, itís fine, I remember...

EXPERIENCE: Which part of ďyouíre outĒ did you not understand?

MEMORY: Fine. You deal with it yourselves.

Analysis walks around the table, mumbling various lines, from time to time conferring with Inspiration. The look on his face is an unhappy one. Finally he mournfully turns to Experience.

ANALYSIS: We canít find anything good.

MEMORY: I can.

EXPERIENCE: (Deep sigh, gives up) Okay, Memory, what have you got?

MEMORY: (Triumphant) Van der Wiel Ė Tkachiev, 1999. 11.Bg5 h6 12.Bh4 exd4 13.exd4 g5 turned out okay for black Ė white didnít sacrifice on g5.

INSPIRATION: Whoa, neat Ė a combination of two bad ideas Ė g5 and exd4 Ė actually produces something worthwhile.

ANALYSIS: Yeah, he canít sac on g5 now, because after 14.Nxg5 hxg5 15.Bxg5 Nxd4 the queen cannot go to f3 and black wins.

EXPERIENCE: Nice teamwork, guys, but all for naught (points to window) 11.d5 was played.

MEMORY: Uhm, remember, guys, when I said he can't take me out of book with any half-decent move? This is barely a ten-percent-decent move. Iím done. Youíre on your own.

EXPERIENCE: Donít go; we may need you.

MEMORY: Need? Me? Did I misunderstand any part of ďyouíre outĒ?

EXPERIENCE: (Mellows down) We may need you for the endgame.

MEMORY: Hehe, you do, donít you. Mr. Scribble and Mr. Pencilpusher here are both utterly useless for anything as simple as R+P vs. R, aren't they? Okay, Iíll stick around. Sound like fun. And if you can come up with a good enough response to d5, I may even add it to my database.

ANALYSIS: Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.

EXPERIENCE: Letís go to work, guys. The knight needs to retreat. Analysis, are you happier with Ne7 or Na5?

INSPIRATION: Canít we consider other moves? Like 11ÖNa7

MEMORY: Knight on the rim, future is grim.

INSPIRATION: Or 11ÖNg4, attacking f2.

ANALYSIS: Hmm, letís see, 11ÖNg4 12.dxc6 Nxf2 and thenÖ

EXPERIENCE: Stop it. Even if you spend twenty minutes here and prove to me that the combination does work, White can still respond simply 12.Rf1 and defend everything. Letís play simple moves while we can.

Analysis and Inspiration confer in the corner of the room again. Experience taps his fingers nervously on the table and checks his watch. Finally, he seems to have enough of it.

EXPERIENCE: 11ÖNe7 is a go.

ANALYSIS: Got to love those decisions on general principles.

EXPERIENCE: 12.Bc2 played. Doesnít seem like white knows what heís doing. Any plans?

INSPIRATION: 12ÖQd7 connects the rooks, or 12ÖNg6, improves the knightís position. But the best of course is to attack with 12ÖNg4!

EXPERIENCE: Analysis?

ANALYSIS: Iím looking into 12Öc6 13.dxc6 Bxc6 Ė opens the center, many interesting ideas are possible. A real forest of variations!

EXPERIENCE: Tarrasch said attack the pawn chain from the base, not the head. So that means we need to get f5 in, not c6.

MEMORY: That was Nimzowitsch.

EXPERIENCE: Whatever. Analysis, give me a line with f7-f5.

ANALYSIS: 12ÖNg4 13.Rf1 f5 14.Bg5 fxe4 15.Bxe4.

EXPERIENCE: Hmm, he has a nice outpost on e4. I donít like it.

INSPIRATION: Maybe we can combine the ideas. You know, c6 and f5.

ANALYSIS: 12Öc6 13.dxc6 Bxc6 and then threaten Ng4 and f5 Ė he doesnít have the outpost on e4 anymore because our Bishop controls e4. Could work.

EXPERIENCE: He could do something in the meanwhile to stop the f5 idea.

INSPIRATION: Then we sac a pawn with 14Öd5 and attack the kingside!

ANALYSIS: I donít like.

INSPIRATION: Well, weíll think of something. I like c7-c6, letís go for it.

EXPERIENCE: I guess Iíll have to trust you on this one. 12Öc6 is a go.

Memory looks through the window. Some moves are played quickly.

MEMORY: 13.dxc6 Bxc6 14.axb5 axb5 15.Rxa8 played.

EXPERIENCE: All forced. Now 15ÖBxa8

INSPIRATION: No, wait; letís look at 15ÖQxa8.

ANALYSIS: He just takes on d6, duh.

INSPIRATION: Let him take. Then we go 16ÖNg4, howís that?

EXPERIENCE: Not too good. If nothing else, he has 17.Be3, stopping our attack cold and remaining a pawn up. A doubled pawn, admittedly, but still, Whiteís clearly better. Scratch that, we play 15ÖBxa8.

A short pause. Analysis walks around and mumbles nervously.

EXPERIENCE: I really donít like 16.h3 now. We have no tactics, and our pawn structure is miserable.

MEMORY: Thatís what you get for listening to Inspiration.

INSPIRATION: Well, at least I donít change my mind every five seconds Ė ďoh no, it should have been h6 before castling, now we are so screwed, oh wait, we are not screwed, I found someone to copy fromĒ.

MEMORY: You would have never come up with this move order by yourself. Not in a year.

FEAR: Look, theyíre squabbling already!

SPOTLIGHT on left-stage, where three previously-unseen people have just entered. Those are FEAR, DOUBT and HINDSIGHT. FEAR is dressed like a classic Faustian devil, complete with pitchfork. He leads the trio. DOUBT wears a long flowing robe covered in question marks. He looks like a simpleton. HINDSIGHT looks self-confident and has a T-shirt emblazoned with a stylized ď20/20Ē logo.

EXPERIENCE: Well, well, well, if it isnít Mr. Scaredy-Cat and his sidekicks ďI donít knowĒ and ďI donít careĒ. What are you doing here? The horror film festival is down at the subconscious.

FEAR: Your wit does not amuse me, ancient one. My friendsí names are Doubt and Hindsight. As for me, you may refer to me as Mr. Fear, although I prefer ĎReasonable Cautioní. And we came because we heard over the synapses that you might have something for us.

ANALYSIS: Go away. We donít have anything for you. What could we possibly have that will be of any interest to you three?

FEAR: Oh, I donít know. How about Ö this position! Doesnít it lend itself quite nicely to the application of our skills? Wonít you say so, Doubt?

DOUBT: Well, Iím not sureÖ

FEAR: Shut up. Of course, you played yourself into a hole, and now are waiting to see if the guy finds h3 or not. Being at the mercy of your opponent, thatís just about the scariest thing I can think of Ö that doesnít involve spiders.

HINDSIGHT: Oh boy, did you mess up. It was so much better to play 12ÖNg4 followed by 13Öf5 Ė a slight advantage for black at the very least.

ANALYSIS: Have you ever heard the phrase Ďat the right place in the wrong timeí? That would be about you.

HINDSIGHT: I know. I get this all the time. Ainít I something?

INSPIRATION: I insist the three of you leave at once. Youíre cramping my style.

FEAR: You know what, Iíll be generous with you. Iíll let Doubt decide. What do you say, Doubt, should we leave?

DOUBT: Uhm, I dunno. I donít think so.

FEAR: Case closed. We stay to watch you demolish this position even further!

A brief, highly tense, pause follows, as the three newcomers make themselves comfortable around the board. The four original partners do their best to ignore them.

ANALYSIS: White already spent fifteen minutes on this move. I donít know what heís thinking about. 16.h3 is a natural.

A shadow moves across the eye.

EXPERIENCE: 16.Na3 was played.

INSPIRATION: Hey, weíre back in the game!

DOUBT: Donít be so sure. Every move has a purpose, remember.

INSPIRATION: Shut up.

EXPERIENCE: No, wait. Doubt actually has a point. We must examine our opponentís goals. What does white want?

FEAR: To crush your ego into a pulp and to pry some precious rating points away from your cold dead fingers.

EXPERIENCE: Well, yes, but on a shorter term, heís attacking b5.

FEAR: Oh, attacking a weak pawn. Scary.

DOUBT: I donít like having weak pawns.

HINDSIGHT: It might have been wiser to exchange it earlier.

EXPERIENCE: Shut up, all of you. What were we talking about?

MEMORY: Inspiration said something about Ng4 and f5.

EXPERIENCE: Right. Analysis, give me a line.

ANALYSIS: 16ÖNg4 17.Rf1 (or Re2) f5 Ė threatens to take twice on f2 and then win a piece with fxe4. Seems like white has no choice but to take: 18.exf5 Nxf5 Ė and then, I donít know, it branches exponentially.

EXPERIENCE: I like this position. The b-pawn is still weak, but we have what, two knights, two bishops and a rook looking directly at his king. And the queen can join too. I say go for it.

DOUBT: Shouldnít you check it one more time?

FEAR: Yeah, just think of all the rating points at stake!

Experience shakes his head. He has to make a decision, but seems to be unable to do so.

EXPERIENCE: Analysis, can you go over the lines again.

ANALYSIS: Whatever you say.

Again, he walks around mumbling, briefly conferring with Inspiration from time to time.

FEAR: And the time is ticking away.

ANALYSIS: I donít see any problems with Ng4 and f5. I really donít.

DOUBT: Maybe we should consider other alternatives. Like 16ÖBc6 or 16ÖQd7, protecting the pawn.

INSPIRATION: Those are passive moves. We must attack now!

MEMORY: The side that has the advantage not only may attack, but also must attack. Lasker. Or Steinitz, I forget.

DOUBT: Aha, but do we have the advantage?

FEAR: I say we donít.

HINDSIGHT: We may have. Iíll tell you later.

EXPERIENCE: Iím not afraid of you. 16ÖNg4 is a go.

MEMORY: (Looks out) White went 17.Rf1 very quickly.

FEAR: Obviously you have a very savvy opponent. Canít pull the wool over his eyes.

INSPIRATION: Come on, f5!

EXPERIENCE: I tend to agree.

DOUBT: Arenít we supposed to recheck everything?

EXPERIENCE: Oh well. Analyze everything again.

ANALYSIS: Everything? Oh, my head.

MEMORY: Kotov said check each branch of the variation tree only once. Itís in his book ďThink like a GrandmasterĒ.

FEAR: Kotov is dead (brief pause, adds ominously) I am afraid.

INSPIRATION: I canít believe I am saying this, but we must continue with the plan. f7-f5 is the only move that makes sense.

EXPERIENCE: Okay, proceed with 17Öf5. Oh, look, he took already. 18.exf5, and now we play 18ÖNxf5.

HINDSIGHT: Doesnít look too hot, this entire plan with f5. You have a lot of weaknesses. He can exchange on f5 and then capture b5. A check on b3 could be a pain.

EXPERIENCE: Why didnít you say something before? Sorry, donít answer that, I forgot whom am I speaking to.

INSPIRATION: b5 is weak, but so is f2.

ANALYSIS: Right on, my man. If 19.Bxf5 Rxf5 20.Nxb5, we can take twice on f2, and then win the pinned knight with e5-e4.

DOUBT: Assuming, of course, white doesnít have a zwischenzug. Although I donít know, why should he have one?

EXPERIENCE: You really are a big help.

MEMORY: (Looks out) 19.Bb3+ was played.

FEAR: Oh, a check, what shall we do.

EXPERIENCE: Just tuck the king into the corner. No problem. 19ÖKh8.

HINDSIGHT: Did you already make this move?

EXPERIENCE: Yes. Why do you ask?

HINDSIGHT: Just wanted to point out that 19Öd5 might have been better.

DOUBT: I donít know. I donít like those voluntary pins. Maybe Kh8 was right. Even though, I must say, moving before consulting Analysis was somewhat dumb.

EXPERIENCE: (Laughs nervously) Yes, it was, wasnít it? On my honor, I swear to never do it again.

MEMORY: White went 20.Ng5.

FEAR: Look, heís attacking. A multitude of threats all around.

ANALYSIS: Nf7+, Ne6, Qxg4, to name just the most serious ones.

INSPIRATION: This attack cannot work. Black is better, and we can find a line to prove it.

ANALYSIS: Well, Iím looking at stuff hereÖ Would appreciate some pointers.

MEMORY: I recall Inspiration raving about the weakness of f2. Just a thought.

ANALYSIS: Well, 20ÖNxf2 21.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 22.Kxf2 and we have several discovered checks, but I donít see one that is obviously good.

EXPERIENCE: Come on, his king is exposed; we must have something.

INSPIRATION: e3!

EXPERIENCE: What are you talking about, Inspiration?

INSPIRATION: 22ÖNe3+ is the discovery we need.

DOUBT: Thatís dumb. He just takes.

ANALYSIS: No, wait, I see it. With the king on e3, the Ng5 is undefended. 23.Kxe3 Qxg5+ and now his kingís really in trouble. Maybe I can calculate a forced mate here, if you give me enough time.

EXPERIENCE: We have twenty minutes to make time control on move 30. You have five minutes on this move.

DOUBT: I donít know, five minutes sounds awful little for such a critical decision.

EXPERIENCE: Fine, make it seven, but thatís the most Iíll give you.

A tense pause is broken by Fear.

FEAR: Remind me again, how many rating points do we drop in case of a loss?

ANALYSIS: Eighteen. Damn you, Fear, you got me calculating the wrong thing. Now, letís see, where was IÖ

Fear chuckles slightly, and some more time passes.

EXPERIENCE: Timeís up.

ANALYSIS: I donít see any forced mate, but his king is driven to the center of the board, attacked by three pieces, and weíre even not down on material.

DOUBT: Probably a computer could find a forced mate here. If there is one, that is.

ANALYSIS: Well pardon me for being a carbon-based life form. Also, he can decline the sac, of course, but then heís just down on material.

EXPERIENCE: Thatís good enough for me. Letís do it. 20ÖNxf2. Hmm, our opponent is in somewhat of a time-trouble as well. Thatís nice. Okay, he made the only move, 21.Rxf2, and we go 21ÖBxf2+. Heís thinking again.

DOUBT: Are you sure the whole Ne3 idea works? Maybe check on b6 instead?

ANALYSIS: He retreats to e2, and still threatens Nf7+ and Qh5. I donít like.

EXPERIENCE: We have a move. We have a move, gentlemen, and itís 22.Kh1.

FEAR: He retreats? What the heck?

ANALYSIS: Apparently I am not the only one thinking that 22.Kxf2 Ne3+ is lost for white. Now weíre simply up an exchange and a pawn.

FEAR: This game is no longer of any interest for me. Iím out of here.

Doing his best to hide his utter disappointment, he starts walking to the stage exit Ö and stops after a few steps. He turns to his cohorts.

FEAR: Arenít you coming?

HINDSIGHT: I want to see how this turns out.

DOUBT: I donít know. I donít think so.

FEAR: Fine. Have it your way.

Fuming with anger, he leaves. The rest, more enthusiastic then ever, huddle around the chessboard.

DOUBT: We still seem to be in some peril. That knight of his on g5 is still threatening stuff.

ANALYSIS: Nf7+, Ne6, Qh5, and a minor threat Nxb5.

EXPERIENCE: Ten more minutes to make move 30. Inspiration, give me something.

INSPIRATION: 22ÖBe3!

ANALYSIS: Wow, way cool. Black wins in all lines. 23.Nf7+ Rxf7 24.Bxf7 Qg5, double attack on g2 and c1 wins a piece. 23.Ne6 Qh4 threatens Ng3#. 23.Qh5 Qxg5 exchanges into an easily won endgame. And finally, there is 23.Bxe3 Nxe3.

INSPIRATION: Better yet, 23.Bxe3 Bxg2+ 24.Kxg2 Nxe3+

Analysis and Inspiration exchange high-fives. Even battle-weary Experience allows himself a smile.

INDULGENCE: Doing well, I see?

SPOTLIGHT on left-stage, where INDULGENCE has just entered. He looks like a fat slob, dressed in once beautiful, now greasy, silk robes. Heís eating a chicken leg. Ignoring the disdained looks, he approaches the table and takes a look at the board.

INDULGENCE: Not just doing well, I see Ė youíre winning. Very well. Drinks are on me.

INSPIRATION: Wow, thanks, man.

EXPERIENCE: Wait! Stop this madness; we havenít won this game yet.

INDULGENCE: Judging by the position on the board, you have.

ANALYSIS: Indulgence has a point. This is easily won.

Analysis and Inspiration ignore Experienceís protests and walk with Indulgence stage-right, where he produces a large jug of ale from his robe and proceeds to treat them to it. The three of them sit in a circle and take turns sipping from the jug. Experience, Memory, Doubt and Hindsight are left at the board by themselves.

HINDSIGHT: Maybe we should have locked the door as soon as Fear left.

EXPERIENCE: I donít need those guys. I can do it myself. Okay, I play 22...Be3. I can do it myself. Yeah. I still have Ö six minutes for the last eight moves. Plenty of time. Plenty of time.

DOUBT: I think White went 23.Nf3.

INDULGENCE: Ha! This is akin to a resignation. Care for another round of ale?

INSPIRATION: Donít mind if I do.

EXPERIENCE: Okay, what do we say? When ahead of material Ö

MEMORY: Exchange pieces, not pawns.

EXPERIENCE: Fine. I play 23ÖBxc1 Ė to which White obviously replies 24.Qxc1 Ė and now I donít know what to do. Oh boy, I need those two guys here.

MEMORY: Exchange more pieces with Bxf3.

EXPERIENCE: Iím reluctant to give up such a strong Bishop. Oh god, I really donít know what to do. I need those two clowns.

DOUBT: I can get them for you.

EXPERIENCE: Can you?

DOUBT: Maybe I can. No guarantees.

Doubt walks over to Indulgence and his drinking buddies.

DOUBT: Can I have a taste of that?

Indulgence passes him the jug, and Doubt drops it on the floor Ė evidently, on purpose.

DOUBT: Oh my, look, Iím so clumsy. Oh well, I guess that means no more free drinks. Mind if I ask you to do some work, Inspiration and Analysis? We sort of, well, donít really know what to do. For me, of course, that would be a natural state, but my friend Experience here is somewhat baffled by the incident.

Inspiration and Analysis stagger to their feet, somewhat drunk. Doubt slowly nudges them back toward the board.

INDULGENCE: Oh well, my work here is done.

He exits.

EXPERIENCE: Analysis, do you see any problems with 24ÖBxf3?

ANALYSIS: Not really. Leaves black in a clearly won position.

INSPIRATION: We can start a mating attack with Nh4! Letís do it!

DOUBT: I donít know; should we trust a drunk Inspiration?

ANALYSIS: Donít trust him, trust me! Iím (hic) not drunk at all!

EXPERIENCE: Well, we need to decide between Nh4 and Bxf3.

ANALYSIS: Both seem perfectly fine. Canít complain about either. (Passes out)

EXPERIENCE: Four minutes to move 30. Okay, I call 24ÖNh4. White captured the knight Ė that was fast, heís almost out of time too Ė so we recapture. 25.Nxh4 Qxh4. Now heís thinking again.

INSPIRATION: I like this position. Weíre (hic) winning. (Passes out)

DOUBT: Are we?

EXPERIENCE: Pretty sure we are. Weíre up by exchange and pawn. s

MEMORY: Which is almost the equivalent of being up by a piece.

DOUBT: Exchange, yes, but I wouldnít be so incisive on the pawn. He can just grab b5 if heís so inclined, canít he?

EXPERIENCE: Guess so. Whiteís down to his last minute. Oh, look, he did grab the pawn Ė 26.Nxb5. Great, now weíre only an exchange up. Anyone has any proactive ideas?

DOUBT: Donít look at me; Iím not even sure I know what Ďproactiveí means.

MEMORY: I donít recall anything of use.

HINDSIGHT: I think we were better off playing Bxf3 on move 24.

EXPERIENCE: Oh my god, Iím not going to drop this game now! (Screams) Somebody, help!

Hearing this cry, Analysis raises his head and takes a brief look at the position.

ANALYSIS: Bishop takes pawn mates in three. Youíre welcome. (Passes out again)

EXPERIENCE: Bless his heart, he always falls back on descriptive notation when heís excited. Okay, so we play 26ÖBxg2+.

DOUBT: I think I see the mate.

HINDSIGHT: Iím sure Iíll see it soon.

EXPERIENCE: One thing is certain; our opponent can see the mate.

MEMORY: How can you tell?

EXPERIENCE: Because he just resigned! (Sings to the tune of ĎHere we goí) He resigned, he resigned, he resigned! He resigned, he resigned, he resigned! He resigned, he resigned, he resigned! He resigned, he resigned!

DOUBT: Did he really resign?

EXPERIENCE: Yes!

He goes around the stage, dancing and smooching everyone on the forehead. Analysis and Inspiration wake up.

INSPIRATION: What happened?

ANALYSIS: Did we miss anything?

EXPERIENCE: You missed nothing, my dear friends. Well played.

Indulgence enters, carrying a new jug of ale, followed by an unusually subdued-looking Fear.

INDULGENCE: Ale for everyone!

DOUBT: Should I have some? Yes. I definitely should have some ale.

FEAR: So you won. Big deal. Youíll probably get a higher-rated opponent next round Ö oh, what the heck, let me have a gulp of that too.

Everybody have a drink, except for Memory, who is scratching the back of his head, and seems to be troubled by something. Finally, he recallsÖ

MEMORY: Boss promised his wife to get home early, so letís try to wrap the post-mortem quickly.

His work done, he can now afford a drink from the jug too.

HINDSIGHT: (Addresses audience) All in all, I think it turned out to be a pretty good game, donít you think so?

THE END

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Posted by Webmaster on Monday, March 10, 2008 (edited 21/05/10).