Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Master and the student

  Chess was a big part of my life when I was growing up. I played well in high school. Not so well against the only time I played a master but he was in fact a Master in the game of Chess.  I lost interest as I grew but I would like to tell you about a moment in my life the change me. I was depressed, all alone in Seattle.
  Lost and lonely in Seattle. It sounds like a good book title. I didn't have many friends and lord knows I tried to find them. I would introduce myself at games, in classes, anywhere I thought I might find someone to be friends with; this got me no where, so I stopped.
  Until one day, I was sitting in the library at school waiting for the class. You know the one. You get two classes; say one at eight, and one at nine in the morning. There is that before mentions class, the one that you wait around for in the afternoon. I didn't like to leave school once I had arrived and I needed to study anyway.  I buried myself in books and studied for that afternoon class.
  I always ran out of homework and ended up playing chess by myself. As portentous as it sounds, I enjoyed a game of chess with myself. The rules are simple, no cheating and you exploit your opponet mistakes. There is nothing like a game of chess, when your opponent knows your every move. People watched me, I was aware of this and I didn't care. I had come to the conclusion that if I was going to not have friends, I was at least going to be myself.
  This worked, I was in my protective bubble until that one day and that one moment when everything changed. As I was minding my own business, a very cute woman sat down across from me. She was lean and had a short hair cut. She smiles and parted her hair that swung over her blue eyes. I went back to my game of chess.
  She moved her hand across the table and she strummed them once. I looked back and she smiled. I was beginning to think that I had been chosen to be her pet project. She smiled until my eye met hers.
  "What is your name," she asked.
  I pondered the question before answering. "Does it really matter? In an hour, I will be in class and you will just be a memory."
  She frowned and it was obvious she wasn't used to people talking to her that way. She left a few minutes later and I went back to my game of chess.
  The next day, she was there at the table when I walked into the study room. It had been raining and library was full of students wanting to stay dry. As I looked around for somewhere to sit she moved her bag and offered the place in front of her. I was young but even then I could see the emotion in her eyes. I smiled and almost laughed.
  She didn't talk, just studied her books and waited.
  I was coming to the point when I didn't really have anything else to do. I had gone over everything twice and out of the top of my eyes, I could see her glancing up every few minute waiting for me. I finally pulled out the chess board and she put her stuff away. I pulled the pieces out and she reached over and pulled the board closer. I almost pulled it back but I thought why not.
  The first game took a few minutes. I didn't want to try anything to hard. It was my first game against anyone for a while. I notice we had a small audience. When we were finish I came out as the winner.
  She laughed and said, "I wasn't as easy as you thought I would be."
  A guy that I didn't know laughed and said, "Now, why don't you play for real."
  I broke character and a smirked.
  I could see the fire in her eyes. "You went easy on me?" she asked, a little too loudly for the environment.
  Of course I did. It is the one lesson, I was taught when I had played the Chess Master. Play defensively and feel your opponent out the first match. Get to know how they think.
  I nodded my answered and she set the pieces up again. The next match was over in 5 moves and the second in less than ten.  She understood now that I wasn't a push over. The guy gave it ago and lost the first match in around 20 quick moves. I didn't play him for a second time. I looked around the she was gone and I was late for class.
  The next day, I was happy to see that the library was empty and only two people were in the study room. Someone I didn't recognize and the young lady. This was a Friday and I didn't have class in the afternoon that day but I needed to get a little homework done.
  She once again waited for me to be done.
  When I was finished I looked up and she was already packed. I explained that I don't play chess on Fridays.
  She said, "I know."
  We stood and walked to the parking lot.
  I wasn’t surprised when she asked for my name again.
  I answered, "Jay." It was a nickname that I used for myself when I was in college, giving to me by a friend that I met at a dance club.
  She waited.
  I finally asked, "What is your name?"
  She laughed, moved closer and touched my hand. "I will tell you on Monday if you can beat me at chess." I had been beaten at her own game. The only one that had counted that day. She showed me I was a student and she was the master at different kind of game. The next week with her was an eye opener. She teased me about that first day we met. I found out her name was Chris.
  I wasn't lonely anymore and we had a great seven months together, but she had a wandering eye that I could not forgive. I found her compromised and it was over. I haven’t shared this story before but it seems fitting today. I stood out in the rain earlier and thought of her for just a second.
  Then I called my wife and told her I loved her, I have no intention of looking Chris up or anyone from my past ever again.

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