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A Knight to Remember

by ChessDude

Chapter 3

The knight is a tricky little piece… It moves in ways you just aren't ready for.

A queen or a rook can impose their power from afar. They zip around the chessboard quickly. They're agile. But there's a catch: Queens and rooks are at their most powerful when the position is open, with lots of space to move around.

The fewer pieces there are on the board, the stronger the queen and rook become, since it frees up lanes for them to move freely.

Moving a knight around in a wide-open position is a bit like watching a turtle cross a busy intersection… It's painful to watch, and likely to end in disaster.

But the knight has several distinct advantages over a rook, and sometimes even the queen, despite being a much weaker - and slower - piece.

You see, the knight is the only chess piece that can jump over obstacles.

A queen, if presented with a wall of pawns, MUST take time to move around them. Moving around something means taking a detour. Detours take time.

In such a situation, the lowly knight can effortlessly jump over the opponents defensive line with surprising quickness and dexterity. It - in that instance - becomes MORE agile and relevant to the position than even the mighty queen!

That sort of fluidity of power, the juxtaposition between a piece's inherent strength and its situational strength, amazes me.

Some pieces are inherently stronger than others - like, say the queen is more powerful than a rook, which is in-turn more powerful than a bishop, and so on. However, those power dynamics can change dramatically during the course of a game, depending solely on what current position - or state - the board is in.

Under the right circumstances, a knight - the second least powerful piece in the game - can become more powerful than even a rook. And, in some very special cases, can even overpower the queen herself.

This is a spectacular property of the game.

Nothing about chess is static.

Pieces are strong in some situations and weak in others.

The trick is knowing which piece will thrive in which situation - and when.

Knights, when left on the side of the board - say, too far to the left or right side - are cumbersome, clumsy.

Chess players have a couple sayings for this particular situation.

'A knight on the rim is dim.'

And, perhaps even better: 'A knight on the flank walks the plank.'

The knight isn't effective unless it's going towards obstacles. It has to be right in the middle of everything to demonstrate its power. It goes toward difficulties, because being near challenging situations brings out its greatest strength.

I want to be like the knight.

I want to go through life being the underdog. The guy nobody knows about. Someone who is consistently underestimated. Someone fighting the odds, bringing himself into the center of the action, only to thrive and - hopefully - accomplish his dreams.

Chess is nothing like what I expected. Every rule I learn… Every mistake I make… They all teach me something fundamental about me. Chess has so many life lessons hidden under the surface: how to handle defeat, managing expectations, time management, building a strong foundation by which you can exploit your opponent, the power of the initiative, prophylaxis… And so much more.

It's a game of life lessons hidden inside little wooden pieces.

It's poetry and art masked by outward complexity.

The beauty is not on the surface. No. In order to appreciate the dynamism of the game one has to get their hands dirty. They must experience it.

I read an article a couple days ago that detailed something truly mind-boggling. It showed, mathematically, that there are more possible chess positions than atoms in the universe.

I'll say that again: There are more possible chess positions, that could arise during a game, than atoms in the entire universe.

It's called the Shannon Number.

Using game-theory, it has been shown that there are a total of 10 to the power 120 chess positions possible.

Let me write that number out for you:

That's 1, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 possible chess positions.

In contrast, physicists estimate the number of atoms in the ENTIRE observable universe to be somewhere around 10 to the power 78.

It isn't even close!

What a game! Invented thousands of years ago in ancient Arabia. A game more complex than the ancient arabs could have ever imagined. Its discovery was nothing short of a miracle.

And it's teaching me more than school ever did.

It was Friday… And I was livid.

"I'm NOT going. And that is final. You always do this, Sara." I said, my cell wedged between my ear and my shoulder as I picked up various items scattered across my bedroom floor.

"Oh, you ARE going!" She responded, the crackling of the phone speaker getting progressively more grating as her volume increased, "And if you think for one second that I'm going to let you barricade yourself in that room of yours with whatever scheme you've conjured up this week, then you've got another thing coming!"

I didn't respond in words, just with a very frustrated deep breath.

She continued, "I know you're up to something. How long have I known you? I'll tell you, too damn long not to know something is going on. What scheme are you working on this time? It must be something. Devan thinks it's just chess, but unlike him I wasn't born yesterday."

God, give me strength.

Yelling at her wasn't solving my problems - it never did, not with Sara. That bitch wouldn't back down from a silverback gorilla protecting its young if she had a point to prove. For that very reason she had always commanded my respect in a way no other person has - before or since.

It was time for a different approach.

"I'm dealing with a lot of bullshit right now, ok?" I said, hoping the change in tone would appeal to her 'womanly' side.

It didn't.

"Like what?"

Fuck! This isn't even worth it. Only Sara could make NOT going to a party more of a pain in my ass than actually showing up. Her parent's should have named her Wolverine. It would have been much more fitting. Chad's back-to-school party can't possibly be worse than this.

"I'll go for an hour." I relented.

"Good. Now, I'm going to drop the interrogation for today, but I still expect you to talk to me about whatever it is that's been bothering you. I'll let you decide when, but make it soon." She sighed, then said, "You worry me, babe. Your friends care about you. Ok?" Her voice had returned to its naturally soft, soothing timbre.

"Deal. But you owe me." I said, and I smiled, knowing what was coming next.

"Fine… Two rim jobs." She responded.

"Five." I countered.

"Three and half… Final offer. Just put it on my tab." I could hear her smile, "How many rim jobs do I owe you now anyway?"

"Around forty-three, if I'm not mistaken."

"Well you owe me at least twenty. So we'll just call it twenty-three, deal?"

"Deal." I said with a big smile.

Sara and I have this running joke. Whenever one of us wants the other to do something that they aren't inclined to do, we negotiate an appropriate number of rim jobs to make it worth the other's trouble. It's a silly game we play. Not at all serious. But I smile every time we do it. God only knows what someone listening in on our conversation would think!

"We can ride together. I'll drive. Pick you up at 10. Be ready." She said.

We said our goodbyes and hung up.

"Is this party just for seniors?" I asked, as we bounced around in Sara's beat up Cadillac El Dorado. It had been passed down from her parents a year ago. The cheap gold paint had started to chip. The leather seats were as cracked as can be. It had seen better days.

"Mostly seniors. I think there'll be a few juniors there. But only the cool ones."

I nodded.

"Where are we meeting Sandy for the beers?" Devan asked from the backseat… Much more concerned about the alcohol situation than the party itself.

"Over at the 7-11 off Wendover." Sara responded.

Sara was casually checking her makeup in the rearview mirror as her car weaved in and out of traffic.

"Can you PLEASE look at the road." I said.

"I thought a cop was following us!"

I rolled my eyes and looked out the passenger window.

This is going to be a looooooong night.

We had arrived.

Chad lived in one of those highly congested, fancy suburban neighborhoods. You know the type. HOA's… Front gates… Community guidelines… The whole nine. As we pulled up, his younger brother was outside directing cars to the appropriate parking lot, since parking on the street was, believe it or not, prohibited after midnight.

The house was absolutely packed. Chad's parents were purposely out of town… They knew exactly what he was doing… Little Chadwick always got what he wanted. Even if that meant a few broken vases and some stained rugs. His parents were the 'never say no' type. Even still, he was an ok guy. Well, as ok as a guy who gets everything he wants can be, I suppose.

We sat our case of beer by the fridge, which was way too stuffed with liquor to handle any more beverages. The music was loud. A sort of dubstep/rap/dance music mix. Not bad. Chad had even bought a few of those colored lights they sell at Spencer's Gifts.. The whole place had a pretty decent vibe. And this is coming from someone who detests big parties.

We were getting our beers out of the case, when Chad slapped me on the shoulder. "Guys, come with me. I want to show you something."

I looked at Sara and Devan. With a shrug we followed him through the living room, down the hall, pushing our way past person after person. We followed him to a door at the end of the hall.

Fuck, I bet he's got cocaine in here or something… Shit! Shit! Shit!

I'm too neurotic as it is! I can't add speed to the equation!

With a haughty smile, Chad opened the door to what appeared to be a nice sized detached bathroom, and motioned for us to follow him in.

Wow! This is nice. Marble floors. Really fan- The hell? What is that?

The shower curtain was drawn back, revealing a deep red pool of liquid in the tub. The tub was nearly filled to the top with it.

"Grab a cup!" He said, as he led us over to the bathtub.

What in the living FUCK!!!!! I'm not drinking that bloody monstrosity!

Even Sara looked confused.

I couldn't resist, "Um, Chadwick… Buddy… what's in the tub?"

He smiled, dipped his cup in the pool of blood, and took a gulp. After a throaty exhale, he responded, "Kool-aide and Everclear." He smiled broadly, "We're not fucking around tonight kids. The cups are over on the toilet seat."

Oh, what a relief. Nothing puts me in a party mood like drinking from a cup I found on a smelly toilet, dipping it in a bathtub filled with blood, and guzzling it down!

That being said. It WAS Everclear. Whatever germs were in the tub had LONG died. I was surprised the Everclear hadn't eaten through the tub lining and drained onto the floor.

Apparently Devan and Sara thought the same thing, and we all - hesitantly, at first - proceeded to grab a cup, dip and drink.

It's not that bad. Now if I can just drink enough of this blood cocktail I'll forget where it came from and I can get back to enjoying myself.

Hopefully he has a bidet too! I can just use it like a water fountain! Who needs a sink? I'll just bend over and stick my face in it! Yummy! Have you tried this asshole soup? It's delicious! And I'd like a side of dysentery as well! Thanks!

God, everyone was so trashed. I mean, really - properly - fucked up. I'd had about four blood cocktails by that point, and I was prettttty buzzed.

Sara was DD for the night, so she'd only had a couple drinks. She'd mostly been talking with some of her friends from her Drama class, probably gossiping about Mr. Palmer, the drama teacher - gay as a goose - and his propensity to get too close to male students whenever showing them where they should stand during rehearsal… Amongst other things.

It was after 12am, and the party was still going strong. I made my way into the dark living room, stumbling slightly. I saw the couch had a spot available. I started after it.

La la la… I'm so druuuunk… La la la… Dee Dah Doh… Bleh, I feel a bit nauseous… It'll pass, it'll pass. I wonder where Sara is? I'm just gonna rest my eyes for a couple minutes. For just a sec… Oh yeah, that's nice…

After resting my eyes for a few minutes, I made a terrible, horrific mistake. A real whopper: I opened them again.

What a dumb idea that was… As I leisurely glanced around the living room, happy that my nausea had been short-lived, I saw him.

He was holding a drink, standing by the entrance to the kitchen, talking to a group of guys. He was laughing and smiling widely.

At first I thought I was hallucinating. But no. It was him. My blood pressure increased to a slightly elevated 976/450. I stood up, suddenly very conscious of my appearance, worried that I had dried spittle or something on my face.

I hauled-ass to the bathroom. I closed the door, and locked it. It was just me and the pool of blood. My old friend.

Fuck. I need another drink. Then I'll do… something.

I grabbed a cup off of the toilet seat, and dunked it in the blood.


"Hey!" I heard a guys voice call out from the other side of the door, "you've been in there for 5 minutes! We're trying to get more drinks here!"

I was in no mood for whoever that was.

I snapped, "It's after 12am you fucktard! I'm sure you've had plenty to drink. Have some self-respect! Some goddamn dignity too!"

I was Gulping… Guzzling… Chugging… I was really downing the stuff now.


I started in again, "Your body is a temple!" Chug, Gulp, Chug… I was drunk. "Go get some water in-" BURP "stead!"

He was getting angry. "HURRY THE FUCK UP!"

I continued, "You're… pretty…" BURP "pathetic dude." I was slurring, "You have like…" BURP "a drinking problem… or something."

As my stomach burned I remembered something.

The knight is most powerful when faced with an obstacle.

Be like the knight. Isn't that what I said earlier? Do I run away from adversity or face it head on?

My back straightened. My shoulders pushed back. I looked straight ahead.

I'm doing this. I don't care if I look stupid. Nothing could possibly be more stupid than what I'm doing right now.

I stood up, and walked over to the door. After a brief pause, I opened it.

I saw the guy on the other side of the door. He looked no more than 14 years old. He was maybe 5 foot tall. "About time!" He said.

"Oh, I didn't know middle schoolers were invited… Be a good little boy and get the fuck out of my way!"

"Fuck off!" He responded, passing me to get to the cups, as I quickly left the bathroom.

I need to find him. I'm just going to come up with an excuse to talk to him. Hell, I'll accidentally fall into his arms if that's what I have to do…

I found him talking to Max, in the game room, where a bunch of kids were seated around a big screen TV, watching two people play xbox.

I'd known Max for a few years. I didn't know him terribly well, but he was one of those guys that I knew I would have been really good friends with had I had the opportunity… It's just that we rolled in different circles, and didn't see each other much.

Something FINALLY goes my way for a change… I'll just say hey to Max and then casually introduce myself to mystery-boy.

This is impossible to screw up. Easy A!

I walked over to them and slapped Max on the shoulder. I was drunk and very loose.

"Ayyyyyyyyye! Maxi Pad!" I said, "Long time no see bruh!"

He chuckled and responded, "Pee-An!!!!"

I laughed.

"How's it hangin bro?" He asked.

"Long and thick, Maxi boy. Loooooooooong… And… thick."

Ok, who's controlling my mouth? I'm standing in front of the boy of my dreams and the first thing I say is 'Long and Thick'?!

God help me!

"Oh Ian, this is Oliver. He's a junior." He said, slapping Oliver on the shoulder. "Don't worry he's one of the good ones!"

Oliver… Of course that's his name… My little Ollie! My sweet little beautiful Ollie.

He was wearing a faded, but stylish, black Bob Marley shirt, along with slim-fitting grey khaki's, and black laceless van's.

In short, he looked incredible. Subtle, yet radiant.

"Nice to meet you, man… It's Ian, right?" Oliver said, as he reached out to offer a handshake. His cute smile drilling into my soul.

"Oh… Yeah! Uh… Chess!" I responded.

Dear God, give me strength to just… like… jump out a window or something.

It's what's best for both of us, Lord.

He had a what-was-that face going on at that point. That face you make when you're not entirely sure if you heard something or not.

"I mean, yeah… nice to meet tootoo!" I said, "You too! I meant you too!" And with a goofy grin I clumsily grabbed his hand and started shaking it. His cheeks were a little flushed, so I could tell he'd been drinking, which was a huge relief, considering I was making a damn fool out of myself.

His hands were so, so soft.

Like velvet.

Even in my drunken stupor I felt electricity. An energy. Looking him in the eyes and touching his skin jolted me awake. I didn't feel drunk AT ALL anymore. I was high as a kite.

"Cool. For a second I thought you called me 'Chess', hehe!" He said.

"Oh, why? Do you play?" I responded, "Because I do!"


"Uh…" He started, then gave a confused smile, "Yeah, actually I do play." He seemed confused as to how we managed to get to that topic so quickly. He continued, "You play in tourney's or just online?"

The hell is a tourney?

"I play online… Where do you play?" I asked… "What's your rating?"

One question at a time Ian!

"Well, mostly I play in tournaments. I do play online occasionally."

"What about your rating?" I couldn't resist asking him again.

"In the USCF I'm rated 2175, online it's around 2250 or so. Online competition is a bit easier than playing in tournaments. What about you?"

Just excellent.

"I… Uh… Well, I haven't been playing all that long actually." My face was aimed at the carpet. Flushed red.

I should never have asked that question. Now I'm going to look like a total moron. A complete idiot. All I do is screw up.

"Huh uh… You don't get off that easy!" He said with a smile. "I showed you mine… You show me yours!" He said with a wide smile.

I laughed. "Well, um… I dunno… 850?"

"BUT… I've only been playing for three weeks. So you know, I'm still really new to all of the rules and everything."

His look of surprise startled me. Fear shot down my spine. I continued, "I mean, I'll get better. I will practice more! I know your way bett-"

"You're telling me… That you've been playing chess for 3 weeks… And you're already rated 850?" His mouth was slightly agape with a smile as he lightly shook his head. He continued, "That's fantastic man!" His face was shining.

My demeanor has never changed faster. Before he spoke I looked like a puppy that'd just peed on the rug. After he spoke I had a smile the size of California plastered across my face. I was beaming.

"You should come to the chess club next week… We can play a game if you want." He said.

"Oh… I mean, yeah! If you won't be bored or anything." My eyes where darting from spot to spot in the room… Afraid to settle on any one thing. "I mean, I'd never be able to beat you or anything…"

"No worries… We'll just use a handicap. That way it's anyone's game." He said, still smiling at me.

He's smiling again. I can't think straight while he's doing that!

I couldn't meet his eyes for very long…

I also couldn't figure out how much eye contact was enough versus how much was too much. Then there was the other problem of my face giving me away… I was inadvertently adoring him. I knew I couldn't fully control that. If I wasn't careful he was going to notice. I couldn't have that.

"Um, yeah! Sounds good." I responded. "I guess I'll… Guess I'll see you next week then!"

Around 3am that night I was laying wide awake in my bed. Smiling like a Cheshire cat.

I did it. I actually talked to him today. I… I… Touched him. I felt his hand in mine... Mmmmm I want to feel his hand on that other part of me… I want to feel him squeeze it. Oh man… Oh fuck…

That'd feel soooo good…

I was hard. I couldn't stop thinking about what it would be like to feel is firm grip on me. Me pulsating in his soft hand. Looking down at his fingers wrapped around my essence. Him gripping me repeatedly... Oh god, that pressure... The pressure of his grip would be ecstasy... I'd be seeing stars for sure.. I wouldn't last 5 seconds... three, maybe four, hard squeezes and I'd explode.

Oh yeah, squeeze it some more Ollie! Oh fuck dude...

Ohhhhh... Baby, that feels so good. Oliver, your hands are so soft baby...

Oliver... Oliver!

Oh god, please keep squeezing it... I can't hold it baby... Make me cum, Ollie! Please, please make me cum…

My hand was down my boxers, doing what I imagined his hand would be doing. It felt magical, just imagining him touching me there was more powerful than anything I'd felt in my entire life.

My dick was throbbing so hard… I was steel.

My hips gyrating, my forehead sweating. The feeling was incredible. I was getting close, really close.


Darkness is a strange thing… Few things sew doubt like being alone, surrounded by darkness. And, despite my excitement over the night's events, another voice decided to fight for space in my head.

That handshake will be the most you ever feel. He's not gay. Did you not notice how he was looking at you? He was just amused - at most. I'm sitting here getting all worked up. Wait till next week…

You'll fall head-over-heels in love with him and right after that he'll introduce you to his girlfriend or some shit.

What have I learned with chess? I need to MANAGE my expectations, that's what. Calm down. The road ahead is winding and narrow…

It's amazing how, when you are so emotionally charged, you can swing from a high to a low in what feels like the blink of an eye. There's something about success that makes fear of failure feel so much more horrifying.

It's what happens to me when I get a taste of something sweet. It screws with my head, and reminds me of all the things that can and - in my mind will - go wrong.

I'm not going to think about that. If all I can ever do is become his friend, then that's what I'm going to do… So be it. I just… need to be close to him… I don't know why. I don't care why. I just do.

I wanted to cum. I did. But that voice really took away all my steam. I was immediately ashamed of myself. I stopped what I was doing. The mood was dead. He would never feel the same way. I would never feel him touch me there. Or anywhere close.

Eventually, I slept.

"So?" Sara asked.

She had called again.

I just talked to you yesterday. Won't you ever leave me the hell alone!

"I'm not ready to talk about it." I responded, staring at my toes as I wiggled them on the carpet.

"I think you are."

"You are being so annoying! Stop bugging me about it, for christ sake!" I was getting a tad defensive.

A voice in my head spoke up.

She's right.

You've been going crazy, trapped in your own head these past three weeks. Worrying about this and that. Maybe telling her would be therapeutic…

What worried me about telling Sara was not what her reaction would be to the news that I'm gay. She'll be majoring in theatre and dance next year. She's not uneasy around - or about - gay people.

What really bothered me was that she'd think I was being ridiculous. I didn't want to hear her confirm how ridiculous I was being. I've let myself develop a huge crush on a guy that I barely know, and who has given me absolutely no indication that he feels the same way.

Why am I doing this to myself? I can't keep thinking about him. I'm smarter than this. The odds that all this works out are laughable!

I'm not going to act like this until I know there is something to get excited about. I can't keep doing it. It's ok to think he's hot. But I can't let myself get hurt like this. I can't let myself go down that trapdoor, because once I'm inside it, there's no going back.

"Still there?" She asked.

"Yeah… Look, you're right… Maybe we should talk… Like, tomorrow or something." I relented.

"Good. I know this is hard for you. You're so wrapped in your head sometimes, babe. You can't keep it all trapped up in there, ok?" She said, and then continued before I could respond, "It isn't healthy. We will work through it ok? Whatever you're going through I'll be here for you. And, whether you believe it or not, so will Devan."

I chuckled at that, "I… don't know about that last part." I said, shaking my head still sitting on the side of my bed staring at the ground.

"He loves you, Ian. I know he does. You're his brother, and he's said as much to me. He'll be there for you just like I will."

Ok, I have got to get off this phone… I'm about to tear up.

"Ok, um… Well, thanks for calling… I guess I'll see you tomorrow then." I stood up as I said it, pacing the room quietly.

"Ok, then. See you tomorrow"

We hung up.

I'm doing the right thing. I can trust her. She's been by my side for 14 years. She's knows what's best.

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