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A Knight to Remember

by ChessDude

Chapter 2

I can't do it… I WON'T do it.

Fianchetto's? Doubled Pawns? Gambits? Initiative? Tempo?

Horrified yet?

Oh, never fear… It get's MUCH worse…

How about Zugzwang? En Passant? Isolated Queen's Pawn? Artificial castling? And last but certainly not least: Zwischenzug?

For fuck's sake!

And they say waterboarding is torture!? Try this for an hour!

I knew this wouldn't be easy, but holy hell…

Learning chess via YouTube was cute for all of 15 minutes. It very soon after started sounding more like an old man chanting incantations than any English I've ever heard.

I need an ENGLISH tutorial! These crazy bastards made up their own language!

'Move the pawn to d4, followed by Bishop takes c7… Watch for the e5 push! The e6 square is weak. Support it! Keep an eye on the h2 square!! Otherwise, you'll fall for the Greek Gift Sacrifice!'

I swear those are actual excerpts… Greek Gift? That apparently has meaning in whatever language these guys are speaking.

After so much frustration with vocabulary, I decided that I'd learn the old fashioned way… Take the bull by the horns… So I created an account at, and started playing.

Funny thing is, I started with this number beside my name. Everybody apparently has a number beside their username when they are playing against each other… The higher the number, the better the player. Apparently it's called an 'Elo rating'…

I started out with a rating of 1200. I guessed that's what they gave all new people. The highest rated players on the site were around 3600… So, I had some serious catching up to do.

Brimming with confidence, I hastily opened a game request for a 'blitz match'; A 10 minute game. The opponent got 10 minutes for the whole game and so did I. 10 minutes for each player. How I used my time was up to me. All seemed hunky-dory, as Mrs. Chapman - My Home Economics teacher - always says.

After a minute or so, some poor bastard was foolish enough to accept my challenge, and the game was on.

Whoa. He only has the number 692 beside his name! Hahaha! What an idiot! I'm rated 1200 bitch! And I haven't even played anyone yet… Bout ta get dat ass handed to you boyeeee!

The game started off great. I was moving confidently. With gusto. Aggressively. With dominance and courage and authority. Basically making him my bitch. It felt… Orgasmic…

That is… Until he captured my queen… With his pawn… On move seven.


I was pwning him! I would have won! How am I gonna win without my damn queen!?

After a few more moves and only half the pieces that I started with still alive, I resigned.

Now here's the part that really fucked with me: I had a 1200 provisional rating to start off with. Now, after one game - playing against some 3 year old on daddies iPad, no doubt - my rating went down to 598. Talk about a hit to my pride. 598? Three minutes ago I was rated 1200!

I later discovered that the rating of the person you win/lose to greatly impacts the change in your own rating.

I played 9 more games with 9 different opponents. Each game was wildly different from the last. I finished out the day with a respectable record of 0-10.

I'm serious.

Yep, I lost all ten games. My rating is now at an impressive 345!

It'll be zero by next week, I'm sure!

I had never - up to that point - done anything where the more I practiced, the progressively stupider I got! It was truly incredible! It was like anti-learning. And terribly depressing.

I was the Oprah Winfrey of chess points. You get points! You get points! You get points! I was handing them out to every person I played. I should start a charity! International Foundation for Free Internet Chess Points! See Ian Ferri for details! Tax Deductible!!

After a couple days of this self-inflicted agony, Saturday finally arrived. I had actually managed to win a few online games over the course of the last several days. A couple of those wins were accidental, if I'm honest. But winning is winning! I was now rated 480! Moving on up!

I was sitting in my room - as usual - when I heard the front door slam, and a sound reminiscent of a herd of Buffalo charged up the stairs. That could only mean one thing: Devan.

Doesn't he know how to use a phone? For christ sake. I'm trying to learn here.

The door swung open and he charged in. The Austin heat had clearly gotten to him. He had a light sheen of sweat on his forehead and across his tanned arms, along with a prominent 'outside smell'. I wrinkled my nose as I looked over at him, "You smell like a horses ass."

"And you look like one," Devan responded, a smile creeping across his face. He proceeded to glance at my screen, as I subtly tried to position it out of his line of sight. But I was too late, and so the interrogation began.

"Dude… Are you playing… Chess?"

My eyes never left the screen, "No. I'm playing My Little Pony Dance-Off Extravaganza… It's a new MMO Game… It's obvious what I'm doing! Of course it's chess!"

"You get weirder every day, bro." He said, as he pulled out his phone and started scrolling.

Still not looking away from my screen I asked, "Why are you here? Did you want to do something today?"

"Nah. Listen, dude… Dude… DUDE!! I'm trying to tell you something here! Can you take your eyes off that screen for five seconds!?"

Rolling my eyes, I begrudgingly turned my head towards him, and in my best British accent proceeded, "Oh, I do apologize. How rude of me to assume I could do whatever I want in my own house!"

"Blah, blah, blah. Listen, Kayla has liked like three of my insta posts, bro!" His eyes were filled with wonder - an almost childlike excitement. My face immediately softened. For all the trash talk Devan and I toss back and forth, seeing his eyes light up like that always put a smile on my face. I'm a sucker for boyish enthusiasm, I suppose.

"Well, I guess you take good pictures?" I responded, slightly confused as to the significance of this news.

"Dude she wants the D! Why else would she be liking all my posts?"

There it is.

"All your posts, huh?" I responded, unable to hide my amusement with his adorable - and frequent - exaggerations.

"This is how it's done these days, bro. This is how it starts! You'd know that if you'd ever even attempted to date a girl!"

Gettttttttttttttttttttttttttttting a tinsy-winsy too personal now. Must deflect.

With a knowing smile I started in, "You know, I think you're onto something… I'm sure she's been fantasizing about diddling that little cashew dangling between those big ole thighs for weeks now! I can only imagine how wet she's been getting!"

"Hey!" Devan responded with a smirk of his own, "I prefer Vienna sausage thank you very much!" We both broke into a fit of giggles, laughing at our own stupidity.

A few seconds later Devan produced a smile that I recognized immediately. It's the I-Have-A-Really-Funny-Insult-Coming-Your-Way smile that I've seen so many times before. He couldn't hold it in long.

"At least my dick doesn't look like an ant-eaters nose! You're probably the only uncircumcised guy in all of Texas! One whiff of that European dick cheese would make any girl start seizing!"

I made a face like I was about to throw up, "Christ Sake! I have never had, nor ever will have, dick cheese! Unlike you I bathe frequently!"

This continued for a while, and as usual he was able to break through the funk that I had managed to get myself into. He's known me long enough to know how obsessive I can get. I'm pretty sure he can tell instantly if I'm in one of my obsessive phases. When I decide to do something, everything else takes a back seat. Devan has always had a keen eye for it, and subtly pulls me out of my own head - effortlessly. That's part of the reason I love him so much… I mean, not that kind of love… Brotherly love.

"Dude, just DM her." I said later, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"But then she'll know I'm interested!" His eyes were showing a little fear now.

Confusion slowly started to creep into my facial expression, "Uh… isn't that exactly what you want her to think?" I asked quickly, followed a few seconds later by an exasperated sigh.

Looking back at him I responded, "Dev, usually you're pretty dumb… But this-" He slowly started mimicking me as I talked, his eyes scrunched up and an exaggerated expression plastered across his face, as he pretended to mouth the words I was speaking. I continued, "This - your dumbness, that is - is extremely familiar to both of us, and to be honest, everyone who has ever met you…" His facial expressions were even more exaggerated now, his head was bouncing around as I spoke, like a bobble-head on a dashboard. God, he was so cute when he mocked me, I couldn't hide my smile to save my life.

"BUT…" I continued, "I'm kinda in agreement with you. I doubt Kayla would have liked your posts if she didn't at least think you were cool. It never hurts to try, dude."

He became more a little more serious, and probably a bit surprised. He clearly was expecting more jokes, not a serious answer.

Here's something few people know about Devan, or at least few people seem to acknowledge. If you looked at his dating track record on a piece of paper, you'd assume he isn't all that shy with girls. He has very few problems asking girls out to the movies or whatever. Based on that information, one might be tempted to assume he was a confident guy. The truth was more complicated. His history with girls had one common denominator: they were all noticeably less attractive than he was. He was cute. A Brown-eyed, brunette with a tan to boot! An inch taller than me on top of that! I know cute guys, and he's one of them… It's just… Well, his confidence goes out the window if a girl is a 7, much less an 8.5 - like Kayla Marshall.

"What should I say to her?" He asked, quietly.

I looked at him. "Just say something like, 'Hey! How you liking your new classes?' Something low-key. Just try to become her friend first.. I've… Uh… Heard that might work." Well, I was hoping that approach would work, for me at least.

"Hmmm… Thinking I should play the slow game huh?" A look of contemplation covered his features. "Not bad my little Wolfgangbang… Not bad."

God, not THAT nickname again.

After more bullshitting, Devan kindly fucked off to his own house. But the statement he made earlier stayed behind with me.

'If you'd ever dated a girl you'd know!'

I'm 17, and I'm still lying to him. He's practically my brother, and I'm STILL lying to him.

I couldn't be sure how he'd react if he knew I was gay, much less how he'd react to the super-duper-top-secret plan that I'm so flawlessly executing. But, I had been telling myself for months now that he should know the truth. Both him and Sara. I would tell them together. That sounded better than telling them one at a time. Sara would take it fine, I'm sure. And she would probably pressure Devan into reacting reasonably as well.

I had read stories of people coming out to their best guy friend, only to lose them temporarily, or sometimes even permanently. But with Devan, I just know, for some reason or another, that he wouldn't do that to me. I'm not sure he'd be happy with the news, but I know he wouldn't abandon me, which made me love him all the more.

The following Monday I had a new 'intermediate plan'…


But I was getting impatient! I was still working on my main plan. My plan involving meeting mystery-boy at the chess club, and making him love me with my inescapable, spellbindingly sensuous charm. But, in the meantime, I wanted to see him in real life! Not to talk to him, just to see him. I didn't know how I'd go about doing that, seeing as I had never met him, or knew anyone that did, or knew his name, address or anything else for that matter.

But then I had an epiphany: A plan which clearly demonstrated my immeasurable genius.

I was planning to skip Home Economics today! Then I would be able to finally see him in real life!

I know… What does skipping HomeEc have to do with anything?

It's simple, and like I said before, demonstrates my immeasurable genius. Home Economics is my third period class, and all third period classes have one of three lunch periods that all students in that class take: 1st lunch, 2nd lunch, and 3rd lunch.

Now, by skipping Home Economics, I could simply stay in the cafeteria for ALL three lunch periods, allowing me to catch at least a glimpse of him! He had to eat sometime!

It's brilliant!


Does that make me a stalker?

I guess only mildly. It's not like I'm following him home and perching outside his window at night. The lunchroom is a public place… I'm merely, 'hanging out' for third period.

Jesus… all I want to do is see him for real. Just for a few minutes. That will hold me over for a little while. I just NEED to see him in real life just this once!

The chess club wasn't scheduled to start back up again for another two weeks, which is when most clubs have their student orientation meet-and-greets. I had the date saved, believe me.

I sat in second period, literally watching the seconds tick by. I was starting to get nervous now, realizing I didn't know exactly where I was going to sit during the other two lunch periods. I was also sure I'd see people I knew. Those people would ask questions; questions I didn't want to answer. I decided that my cover story would be a 4th period test that I was 'studying for'… That I needed to 'skip 3rd period' to 'prepare for it'. That sounded believable. Everything was coming together nicely.

The bell rang and my heart rang along with it.

It's now or never.

HomeEc has 3rd lunch, so I'd already be there when Devan, Sara, and a few others came in for their lunch break. I was all set. I headed out in a bit of a hurry, and went to my locker to grab my fourth period textbook: That would be my prop…

I felt like a Russian spy.

I started off towards the cafeteria and found a seat all the way at the back, right in front of the a window, where I'd have a good view of the whole room. I spread out my textbooks and notebooks so as not to be disturbed, and proceeded to wait.

Left leg bouncing…

Fingers tapping…

Eyes darting…

Breathe Ian, breathe! He's just a normal guy.

1st lunch came and went.


Both legs bouncing…

Pencil chewing…

Armpits sweating…

15 minutes into 2nd lunch…


Well Ian, you've really outsmarted yourself this time. All this build-up and he apparently goes out to lunch! Of course he does. Why wouldn't he? He's probably vegan or some shit.

I hate to admit this, considering I had never met him, and had no right to claim any attachment to him… But nevertheless, I was tiny bit devastated. He was not coming. All this planning, and he didn't even show up. I wondered if all of it, the whole plan, was just a giant waste of my time. How naive could I have been?

I have this tendency to just assume that I can plan for every outcome, and that I'll be prepared for anything.


I got up from my table with 12 minutes left for the 2nd lunch period of the day. I gathered my books, and walked out of the cafeteria a defeated man.

The most upsetting part was the nagging feeling that maybe he was one of those unpredictable types… A free spirit. That would be fine if I knew him and had his contact info, but since I was trying to find his adorable little ass in the first place it made things pretty agonizing.

I was pissed. So pissed, in fact, that I went to my locker, gathered my other textbooks, carefully placing them in my backpack, and walked my ass out the rear entrance, towards the student parking lot.

I'm done for today. Of the two thousand other students here, I choose the one guy whose completely invisi-


Stomach drops.

Face flushes.

Heart races.

It couldn't be.

It was.

There He Was.

It was like the rapture. I swear to god. It was like witnessing the second coming of Christ.

Time slowed down. My breath became slow and SO loud in my head. My vision narrowed. I was dizzy. It was him.

It was definitely him.

Walking towards me was the boy of my dreams.

If a picture's worth a thousand words, then seeing him in real life was worth well over a trillion.

He was oblivious to my presence, as he strolled towards the school's rear entrance, holding a subway bag. Earphones in his ears… Head bobbing gently to his music. No one else with him.

I was a scarecrow. My legs wouldn't move. I had prepared for everything EXCEPT what I would do if I ever actually ran into him unexpectedly.

How could I have been so stupid?

I'm standing here staring at him like a total moron! I look like a dog that just got caught eating food out of the kitchen trash can.

As he approached the sidewalk where my feet were currently planted, he glanced up, and for just a moment, for just a brief, eternal, temporal, never-ending, fleeting instant our eyes connected.

My face was blank. My eyes on his. I couldn't control any part of my body at that point. So I just stood there, looking at him.

He gave me just a hint of a smile…

Not a 'knowing smile'. Not a smile that says 'I've got you figured out'. It wasn't the kind of smile that says 'I'm hot and I know it'. Nor was it a smile you give someone you think is acting silly.


It was kindhearted. Unassuming.

It was gentle.

For just a moment I saw him. I mean, really saw him. And my heart somersaulted, back-flipped, cartwheeled.

That moment probably meant very little to him. I was sure he was just being polite, despite seeing someone behaving rather unusually towards him.

But it meant the world to me.

Pulling together all my strength, I managed a small nod. Just a simple acknowledgement. He quickly returned it. And his eyes went back to the pavement in front of him, as he passed by me.

And finally, after what felt like eons… After a lifetime experienced in just a single instant, I breathed.

"How was school today darling?" My mother asked. Sounds of silverware clinking and clanking against glass dinner plates filled the room, a soundtrack to the meal before me. I was there in body only. I was still floating.

How did I get here?

Maybe I was abducted by aliens or something…

Oh god. Oh fuck… I hope I wasn't anally probed… Probably should avoid metal detectors from now on too.

"Ian!" My father shouted, "Your mother asked you a question."

"Huh?" My pupils retracted, bringing the world I was physically inhabiting back into focus, if only briefly enough to do whatever was needed to get the old maid to shut the hell up again.

"What on earth! Nicco! Is Ian… High? Oh heavens he is, isn't he?" My mother was visibly shaken up, but before anyone, including myself could respond, dads cell phone started rattling off.

He looked at his phone. His face immediately clouded. "Why is the school calling?" He asked.

He held up a finger while he answered, mouthing 'one sec' towards my mother as he pushed the answer button.

After a 'really?' and an 'are you sure?' his face hardened. His jet black hair was combed straight back, always making him look exceedingly dignified… And intimidating. I knew that face. I was fucked. I really, really screwed this one up.

He quietly hung up and then gave me a long piercing stare. After a deep breath he asked, "Would you care to explain to your mother and I why you have been sitting here for ten minutes without responding to either of us? Or perhaps why the school just called to inform me that you missed both your third AND fourth period classes?"

Shit! What am I going to say? Goddamnit, I didn't prepare for this possibility either! I'm losing my edge.

"I…" I paused. I needed some sort of believable excuse! Lying to my dad was like facing the final boss in GTA 5… One slip up and I'm dead.

"I… Ok, fine! Some friends and I played hooky! Big deal! We went to play mini-golf!"

Mini-golf? Of all the possible excuses I could have conjured up. 'I felt sick' or 'explosive diarrhea'… I choose fucking MINI-GOLF!!!!!!!

My parents were never huge disciplinarians. They were annoying when I did something wrong, if anything. But they could still make my life a living hell. And I was starting to dread whatever came next.

My mother let out one of her trademark sighs.

She looked at me. I looked at my plate.

"Why then have you been acting so strange this evening? You've been spaced-out for the whole meal! You know how much I look forward to family dinner, and you're sitting there like a zombie! Did you take something? Son, tell me if you took something."

"No mom. I…" Another pause.

Well, I'm already knee-deep in shit, might as well dive in.

"I have a crush on someone! Ok? Now leave it alone."

Her demeanor changed. And that motherly smile I knew slowly spread across her face.

Here we go. She's ALREADY glowing.

"Oh honey! Tell me all about her! Tell your mother right this instant!" She was practically squeaking.

"MOM! It's personal!" I retorted.

I cautiously glanced over at my father. The smile on his face said it all. It was one of the biggest, proudest smiles I'd ever seen.

"Mini-Golf huh?" His smile growing wider by the second… "Amelia! Our son has a girlfriend! I told you he was just a late bloomer! Just like his dad."

He looked at me more seriously, "Son, next time don't skip school to take her out ok? If you need to miss dinner a night or two a week to eat with her, or to take her out, then we'll be fine with that. Ok?"

"Sure, dad… I guess I, uh… Got a little impatient." I replied, with a subdued expression.

He nodded. Slapped me on the back. And that was that.

I'm sure that won't come back to bite me in the ass.

Later that evening, as I lay in bed, I thought about how proud my dad looked when he thought I had found my first girlfriend. I felt two distinct emotions when I saw that smile. One being a yearning to make him that proud, but for real. The other being a deep sadness. A realization that it would likely never be. He would never look at me like that again, not once he knew the truth. That side of him, that part of him would die the very second I told him the truth. Just thinking about it made me shudder.

Being in the closet is a weird experience. There is this duality of existence: The person the people around you think they know, and the real you. There is always a kernel of doubt; a nagging question: Would they love the real me? It taints your relationships. It's made me distant with my parents. Distant to many of my friends. Distant to my extended family.

It's almost as if I'm preparing myself for when they inevitably push me away, by convincing myself that I didn't need them all that much in the first place. Or telling myself that it's going to happen regardless, so I might as well help the process along.

It's a slow death of all the familial relationships I've held dear my entire life.

I can only hope - no, pray - that my parents love me more than they hate my sexual identity.

One day I hope to see that smile again.

That prideful smile from my daddy.

The smile that says, 'you've done good son'.

'You see him? That's my boy!'

'You should ask my son Ian! He knows all about that sort of thing!'

One day… One day… Please God, if you're up there, let me see that smile for real one day. If only once…

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