Chess and Max

An interesting person is a person with interests.”

I watched the first episode of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit this evening.

My senior year of high school, I wasn’t very involved at my school. I did, however, play for Mundelein High’s first ever Chess Team. I was board #2. That semester, there was a foreign exchange student from Russia at our school, who joined the chess team as well. His name was Max. He was a sophomore.

Usually on my lunch period, I’d go up to the library to sit and work. One day, a month or so into the semester, I walked up the spiral staircase to the library again, and saw Max sitting at one of the long tables, with a chess board out and set up. I walked over, said hello, and we played a game. Almost every day for the rest of the semester, me and Max would play chess at lunch.

I would beat him a little more often than he’d beat me, but not by much. It always bothered me though, whenever he was in a position to win, he wouldn’t simply checkmate. He would pick off the rest of my pieces, one by one, and advance all his remaining pawns forward square by square. Toying with me. Only once he had an army of queens would he finally move in for the kill. I don’t know why this always bothered me so much… I could’ve just resigned.

I wonder how Max is doing. I wonder if he still plays chess. I wish I did. It’s a pretty regal game.

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