Jenn, the grandmaster


jennI don’t remember much about my days playing speed chess in Washington Square Park, near the Village. I loved chess, though. I played every day for six months – and I got pretty good. The reason I don’t remember much is that I always brought a bottle of Remy Martin with me, and by noon I’d worked my way through half of it.

One day, Jenn (a real, live Grandmaster, a.k.a “Chess Bitch”) showed up. She tried some hyper-modern defense, playing black. I chased her around the board until she begged for mercy, and she conceded after 37 moves. That Saturday, we moved in together.

Unfortunately, Jenn lusted for chess vengeance more than she lusted for me. She couldn’t believe that some drunk amateur had beaten her.  I may not have had the chess ability to repeat my victory but when it came to hanging on to a doomed relationship, I was one move ahead of her – for a while.  I kept delaying our rematch.  I wanted Jenn to stick around.

Jenn started analyzing our relationship like she analyzed a chess position.  The present position was only important in its relationship to the future position.  She was always thinking 5 moves ahead – what would we be doing in 6 months?  Would our love last?  What kind of foreplay would lead to what kind of sex?

One day, she said, “Knox, I’m not sure our relationship is going anywhere.”

“Where the fuck is it supposed to ‘go’?”

“I don’t know.  But relationships like sharks – if they don’t keep moving forward, they will die”

“Are you kidding?  You’re the damn shark. Sink your goddamn teeth into someone else, if you don’t like the taste of my meat.”  Maybe I was overreacting, but I’d had 3 or 4 cognacs, and I could see two moves ahead – I was about to get dumped.

“I’m sorry, Knox,” she said. “But I just can’t see where our relationship is headed.”

“Fine. But are you sure you don’t want a rematch?   Remember, I have a 100% percentage winning against you.”

“I’m ready any time you are,” she said.  “And I’ll give you White.”

We set up the board.  I knew my only chance of hanging on to Jenn was a victory, or at least a draw.

As usual, though, the pressure got to me.  I made an overly aggressive bishop advance on move 16 that opened up my king side, and Jenn methodically chewed me up and won in a precise end game.

I haven’t seen Jenn since, except on TV promoting her chess books.  A couple of weeks after Jenn left me, I went down to Washington Square for a game of chess.  But when I got there, I just didn’t feel like playing.  To this day, my last game of chess was that loss to Jenn.  I’ve thought about it a lot. If I’d only played 16 Kn-E6 instead of 16 B-H6, my whole future, now in the past, might have been quite different.

2 Responses to “Jenn, the grandmaster”

  1. 1 Nicole

    Man, as sad as this is, it just might be the most beautiful story you’ve shared yet, Knox.

  2. I love chess. Unfortunately, I don’t get to play much any more. I don’t have anyone to play with me.

    Knox, where are you now in life? What are you doing with yourself?

    I’m just curios.

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