The Symbol of Chess

Three days in a row last week, I scrolled on my little smartphone to see a different white girl posting a picture to Instagram of a chess board in various states of setup and play.

I looked on, livid, as these people proved their sophistication and love of The Queen’s Gambit – not through a picture of themselves playing chess, or a picture of their friend and a chess board. But simply an image of the board itself. Laid out in a park or at a table, photographed just so to represent not only the game they so quickly adopted as their own, but the sweater, purse and Fuji water that lay beside it.

No longer a game, but a status symbol.

I miss my high school chess team – short though my tenure was.

I realize this is extremely petty, but my only poignant thought this evening, flipping through the notebook pages of the day, was my disgust with these photographs. I apologize. But now I will try and take this disgust, and think about it more and turn it into something that adds a little bit of value to the world.

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.