Chess City - A New Novel By Ayaan Chettiar

Chess City – Chapter 3

Coach Noam was a tough nut. As a player, he was hard to beat, but as a coach… it was a nightmare.

Which describes Martin’s conflicted emotions after Day One of Coach Noam’s Training Program.

Noam had removed an intricate, red notebook, and leafed through its many pages until his eyes caught the page he desired. He ruffled his deep beard, and then put the chess board right in front of Martin, who studied it as closely as he could.

“Martin!” shouted Noam, breaking his momentary trance. “Pay close attention! Today, we will study the opening, just like I did before my games to Fischer and Alekhine. I remember clearly how I prepared the Sicilan Najdorf for hours, preparing against the world champion himself, and what a game it was…

Had Martin not intervened then and there, he would have been likely subject to an hour of lively discussion on Noam’s historic clash against the mighty Alekhine; with hanging pieces, runaway kings, and stuff Martin just couldn’t get. Ergo, the program.

“Yes, yes…” said Noam, returning his attention to the board. “I trust you know basic opening theory.”

A truly perplexed Martin shook his head dejectedly.

“What?!” said Noam, in one of his explosive bursts. “Expecting to learn chess without knowing but a strand of technical knowledge. You’ll find, Martin, that there is not much use to learn the secrets of the middle game, when you can’t even reach it.”

“It’s alright, Noam.” said Martin, hoping to avoid another explosion. “I’ll learn.”

Noam, who had calmed down by now, proceeded to tell Martin about how he ought to develop pieces naturally, to their favored outposts. He had to give a slow, detailed, run-through in order to help poor Martin understand.

Martin, who could not grasp the concepts Noam was explaining, instinctively touched the f-pawn and moved it two squares. Noam’s eyes turned wide; a fierce look of repulsion crossed his face, and he banged the table, causing the pawn to wobble and fall to a side.

“Never…” he said in a low, dangerous voice. “Move the f-pawn in the opening. It is nothing but a recipe… for… disaster!”

Martin was taken aback by this, and hurriedly put his f-pawn back in place. Noam sighed, and turned the board around, so that he was facing White.

“My compatriot Ahmed has an unusual fondness for the f-pawn. He is quite happy to hang it early on. Explains why despite his excellent knowledge, he is unable to land a heavy blow, because one cannot do much when he is in trouble from the start.”

He slowly moved the e-pawn ahead, allowing his pieces natural squares, with a smile.

“Robert James ‘Bobby’ Fischer once said that 1.e4 was best by test, and I agree. You see, Martin, chess isn’t as complicated as your primitive playing mind seems to think. It’s a logical game, and one that cannot be mastered without great patience and restraint. Dismissed.”

Martin, who was glad to escape without any further ruckus, slowly mumbled to himself of how this was likely a mistake. As he tried in desperation to recall Noam’s teachings, he found bits of it slipping away. He was sure that that Bobby Fischer character loved the f-pawn, and slowly nodded his head. Poor Martin. Despite his best attempts, he found himself struggling in the chess-playing world.

Ayaan Chettiar

Read Chapter 4

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