Chess City - A New Novel By Ayaan Chettiar

Chess City – Chapter 2

Martin swept into the playing hall with a graceful arc. It was a few minutes before the game was to begin. Oscar was the favorite of the two, but Li, having won her school championship a few days ago, had earned the rights to challenge Oscar in a match for Best Advanced Bot.

To a side, Martin observed veteran master Noam telling stories to a group of lower rated computers, who closely hung on to his every word. As he heard murmurs about extraordinary queen sacrifices in a mighty time scramble, Martin tried to recall one of his own masterpieces.

Oh yes. That game against Fabian. Both of them had played a terrible opening, and even worse middlegame, and ended up in a horrible endgame. Their play had been so nonsensical, in fact, that the endgame was hopeless for both. Impossible, right? Not for those two.

Martin remembered how they both gave up their queens en prise, before Fabian stalemated Martin with a pawn. Not the exact definition of a brilliancy, but it was as close as he could get.

He saw the two players take their seats. Slowly, the enraptured lot around Noam began to head towards their seats as spectators. Even Noam packed himself on a good seat. This was to be a closely fought match.

The game began, with a King’s Pawn Opening. Li responded with a sharp Sicilian. Opening theory was followed until the 9th move, where Li made a somewhat dubious move. Noam whispered about it to the bot next to him.

“Not a promising choice, is it?” he said.

That bot turned out to be Martin, who was clueless about whether the move was dubious or not, but nodded vigorously before turning his attention to the game.

A pair of minor piece trades had occurred, but Oscar’s pieces were well placed for a march against Li’s king. Li quickly constructed an open file for her rook, and began to apply pressure on the other flank.

Oscar took his first long think of the game, before shuffling his king one step to the left. Never too late to play a defensive maneuver. Neglecting his own attack, he shifted his attention to counter Li’s.

Li, who naturally loved to be on the offense, threw a pawn into the fire to constitute a wide open diagonal for her bishop, who was ready for action. Her pieces swarmed around Oscar’s king, but the experienced defender parried all her threats.

As Li prepared to get her pieces in the game, Oscar launched a nasty blow with a check to her king. Queens were soon traded, and Li found herself a pawn down in the endgame.

Oscar began to prepare himself for the long grind in front of him. He traded a pair of rooks, and began to work on exchanging bishops. That open bishop would be a monster if given a chance.

Li tried to gain access to a semi-open file, but Oscar stopped her in the tracks with a dreaded double attack. Suddenly, Li was down an exchange, and completely lost. Oscar traded more material to reach a position where he was close to queening.

Li sadly tossed away her bishop to stop the pawn, allowing Oscar to demonstrate a rook checkmate. The players shook hands, as Game One came to a close.

He could see many master players eagerly discussing the battle with much gusto. Martin, feeling slightly left out, consulted Fabian. But the duo was totally clueless about Li’s attack, or Oscar’s defense, for that matter. Even playing out the winning endgame failed, as they were both unable to convert the advantage.

“Hmm… up for a spot of lunch? I could do with a sandwich.” questioned Fabian. Martin nodded as the duo made their exit. But something in Martin’s mind clicked. This wouldn’t do. He’d need to find a training partner to improve, and judging by the events of the day, he knew exactly who to ask.

Ayaan Chettiar

Read Chapter 3

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