Chess City - A New Novel By Ayaan Chettiar

Chess City – Chapter 8

Three weeks under Coach Noam’s brutal training program, Martin felt as if he might have actually improved. Noam was, as always, pessimistic, but still organized a six-game duel between Martin and Fabian.

“If you have really improved your game, Martin, we will soon know.” said Noam. “BECAUSE I HOPE YOU’VE BEEN PRACTISING!”

The whole of Martin’s villa began to shudder, as a few photo frames fell off the walls and crashed to the ground. Martin gave a nervous laugh. Coach Noam’s stare remained unmoved.

The match was set to be held on early Friday morning, as Martin sat down onto the chessboard. He recalled some of Noam’s teachings, at least he tried to recall, they were dissipating from within his mind.

Just nerves, Martin, he thought to himself. You’ll be alright.

Fabian arrived a few minutes late, which prompted a half-hour shouting lecture from Coach Noam. As the duo sat down to begin the first game, Martin took a deep breath. It was show time.

Fabian opened with f3. Martin remembered bits of information regarding the f-pawn and moved his two squares. Noam winced, but made no sound. He too was curious to see the result.

Fabian moved his knight onto the flank. The opening was quite catastrophic for Fabian, and Martin felt happier about his position when the middle game arrived. He tried to create a battery, as both sides repeatedly hung their pieces en prise.

Fabian was even more confused than his opponent, and began to foolishly retreat his pieces meaninglessly. Martin, suspecting a clever plot, and completely forgetting they never had any, also retreated his pieces, aimlessly shuffling his army for many moves.

Coach Noam looked like a ticking time bomb set to explode any second. He had been thoroughly disgusted by Fabian’s opening, but Martin’s horrendous middle game was even worse. There was clearly something wrong with that bot.

As queens gradually got traded, the position liquidated into a winning endgame for Fabian. But because he wasn’t very good, he dropped an array of pawns, only for Martin to blunder half his army.

Fabian continued the aimless shuffling, hanging one piece after another, until bare kings remained. Much to Noam’s horror, they continued shuffling their kings for 50 moves, until Noam grabbed hold of the board, and flung both kings into the air.

The kings crashed onto the floor, as the board flew through the air and landed smack on the couch. Noam roared like a fire-breathing dragon, as Fabian tried to bolt, but tripped on the chair.

Fabian went flying, straight into Martin, who had no time to react. The duo flew off the chair, and landed onto the floor in a heap.

As they desperately tried to untangle themselves, they could sense Coach Noam in his worst mood yet. But more than the usual fury and explosive temper, Martin could sense a deep feeling of disappointment in his coach, which made him feel guilty.

“It seems I cannot do anything for you, Martin.” said Noam, for the first time rather dejected. “I’m sorry to say that the bug in your software is untreatable. You will never improve in chess. I’d advise you to consider other stuff. I resign.”

Coach Noam slowly raised himself, took a final look at Martin’s hopeless, helpless face, and shook his head. He felt real pity for the beginner bot, as he wore his coat, and walked out the front door. Martin could only watch.

“I’m sorry, Martin.” said Fabian. “Care for a spot of lunch?”

Martin sighed and slowly retreated to his room. He’d lost his appetite. Despite his best attempts to improve, he had failed. Noam was right. Maybe it was just time to give up.

It was truly a dark day for Martin, as he flung himself onto the bed, and closed his eyes against the tears.

Ayaan Chettiar

Read Chapter 9

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