Tuesday, November 04, 2008


The nasal gambit

In the game of chess you can never let your opponent see your pieces.


I saw it through the charity shop window when the charity shop was closed: the glass chess set.

I went back and got it the next day. I'd been idly keeping an eye open for a chess set, and this one had a bit of swagger.

The chess set is nice. It has clear glass pieces and misty ones, corresponding to white and black respectively. This means that, although white has the advantage of first go, black can even things up by breathing on white's pieces while he's distracted and then pretending they're his pieces.

I could see that Dad was itching to have a go on the board. I was tired, so I threw Joe the opportunity to strike a blow for the greater good.

Despite my tiredness, I am unable to maintain my objectivity; Joe is no worse a chess player than myself, but sometimes two heads are better than one:

"Take his knight, Joe. Here's why: it'll get right up his nose."

Dad chuckles: although I'm not as good a player as him, there is no doubt that our basic approach to the game is the same. He can avenge his knight using either a pawn or a queen. He opts to use the queen, offering a queen exchange. He then goes off into the kitchen to peel some spuds while Joe ponders his next move.

I hunker down next to Joe.

"You've got to take the queen: that'll really get up his nose. I mean, that'll get so far up his nose, it'll probably come out of his ears."

Joe is of the same mind.


Why do I always root for Joe when he's locking horns with my dad?

It could be to do with rooting for the underdog; it could be from a spurious notion that Joe is my protege and his achievements reflect well on me.

It's more probably because my dad gets up my nose.

My dad, for his part, would probably say that this was a classic Oedipal situation, knowing full well that such talk really gets up my nose.

He won, in spite of Joe's nasal gambits.


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