Principia Discordia

Principia Discordia => Bring and Brag => Topic started by: Placid Dingo on December 31, 2011, 04:13:19 pm

Title: Chess and the Professional
Post by: Placid Dingo on December 31, 2011, 04:13:19 pm
Inspired by this post from LMNO;

Leon and Mr. West.

Leon was of medium height with a soft smile and a receding hairline. He was wealthy but rarely flaunted it. He usually wore just a Tshirt and jeans, and a necklace with a pawn on it. The pawn was his favorite piece because it was the only piece with some level of unpredictability; get it to the other side and you have a valuable wildcard. It was also the only piece whose trajectory was influenced by the position of the other players pieces.

Often people said to him, 'you should have the King now.' It would not have gone astray. He had not lost a game in over eight years (other than as a kindness to his seven year old nephew), and was known in many circles as Leon the Professional, after the film. The only person who had won more games was a wealthy shut-away known as Mr. West.

Mr. West's real name was Delcan La Rouche. He had the reputation for beating many professionals at their own game, and also a reputation for being a slippery figure, who won by questionable means. He had a habit of suing the hell out of anyone who dared accuse him of cheating. The judges repeatedly denounced him, openly loathed him, shot barrages of insults and reduced his character to ash.

And then, without exception, ruled in his favor, often stripping his challenger of millions of their hard earned cash, often reducing the cocky übermensch into a struggling genius, barely above the poverty line.

It was well known that there was no shame in declining an invitation from Mr. West. Even so, when Leon received the letter he only smiled his soft smile and passed it to his butler.
"indicate my acceptance," he said, politely. "Set a date."

Mr. West had a bookish, ordinary face, brown dull eyes and thin weedy fingers which darted over the pieces like a hawk chasing a mouse. He wasn't a bad player but certainly not a professional. He made his move. Leon took a few moments to respond. The chess pieces were a dark marble that reflected the candlelight that illuminated the study they played in. Old stuffy portraits adjourned the walls. In the corner, in a dark wicker chair,  Mr. Mark looked on intently.

Mr. Mark, not Mr. West had answered the door. He was an unpleasant looking man, awkwardly stuffed into a too tight Armani suit, puffed up like a cane toad. His thick black hair was slick with gel.

"Ah," he cried as Leon had entered, "the professional himself!" He shook Leon's hand with a too-firm handshake.
"I'm Mr. Mark, Mr West's attorney. I'm just here to ensure proceedings are fair. I'll be serving as adjudication also, under the following rules." He produced a list which Leon scanned, and a gold pen. They were verbatim the standard international rules. He signed.

In the mahogany room he had met Mr. West. Mr. West had shook his hand but said nothing, just gave a weak smile. Leon was white.

They had been playing for twenty minutes when Mr. West moved his pawn forward to take Leon's queen. Leon cocked his head.
"That's not how a pawn moves," he said.
"It's a legal move," said Mr. Mark.
"Not by the rules I signed to."
"The very same. It's a secret rule."
"There's no indication that there's secret rules. It's still not allowable."
"It's a D-34 military document. By implication there are some rules unstated. If you wanted to challenge for this information you would have needed your lawyer to appeal it. Of course at this stage, to do that, you'd have to forfeit the game."
There was a deep slow silence. Then Mr. West spoke for the first time.
"Your move."

They played for a while longer. Leon was frustrated but also energized. There were finite numbers of moves in chess, but now he was confronted with a new challenge; a strategy to find success when the truly unpredictable was possible.

First he just continued to play. Against an exceptionally arrogant and talented opponent he had once allowed the loss of most his pieces to puff him up with complacency, then with a handful of exceptional moves, completely decimated him. But this was not to be the case here. In another ten minutes West had moved his castle diagonally to take his bishop, and in another six minutes  moved his knight three forward and three left  to take out a  well placed pawn. The increments between illegal move were decreasing and this wasn't accidental; Mr. West was attempting to boil him like a frog.

He next began to experiment, duplicating Mr. West's illegal moves as closely as possible, moving his own pieces in new illegal fashions. Each time Mr. Mark told him off for an illegal move.

Mr. West moved his bishop like a knight to take Leon's castle. Leon grimaced. From here, even playing legitimately, he was in danger of check.

"I need to go to the bathroom," he said. Mr. Mark nodded and opened the door for him.
He left the room.

Ten minutes passed before Leon was back. He had left frustrated and anxious, but returned seeming cheerful. He made a move. Mr. West countered.
Leon moved his castle diagonally and took Mr. West's queen.
"That's not a legal move," said Mr. Mark.
"You're not the adjudicator," said Leon.
"I should like to inform you that I am."
"Then as I am refusing to move this piece I believe it is customary for you to move it back."
Mr. Mark nodded, bemused, and stretched forward his hand. As he did, Leon slashed at him with a kitchen knife, cutting his hand. He screamed and Leon leaped up throwing him against the wall. As Mr. West came to his aid he thrust the knife between his legs.
"Take another step and I cut off his balls," said Leon calmly. 
"Dominic, please!" said Mr. Mark.
Mr. West sat down.
"Say what you need to say to make it legal," said Leon to Mr. Mark. He did not respond, so Leon hit him hard in the stomach with the knife. The blade only sank in a centimeter but the shock of the impact was enough.
"I hereby, by legal right," said Mr. Mark, shaking, a glob of sweat and hair gel running down his cheek, "resign my position as adjudicating judge, and announce in my stead, Mr. Leon Winters."
Leon stepped away from Mr. Mark who sank down. He placed his hand on Mr. West's shoulder, so that the cool blade is pressed as though incidentally against the back of his neck and reached over with the other hand to scoop up a handful of discarded pieces placing them so that Mr. West's king is in check. He waited to see if there were any objections. There were not.

Leon took the score pad and marked it 1 - 0. He sat back in front of Mr. West and tucked the knife into his belt.
"What do you say, chap," he asked cheerfully. "Best of three?"
Title: Re: Chess and the Professional
Post by: Cramulus on January 03, 2012, 05:09:33 pm
I liked that!

You do a good job with characters, I can see all of them really well in my mind's eye.

The chess match is very dramatic - millions on the line, secret contracts ... Clearly there is something more at stake than just the money, something within Leon's head. Maybe that could be clearer?

The "secret rules" bit threw me at first, challenged my suspension of disbelief. I think what makes it work is that DESPITE it being bullshit, Leon rises to the challenge. I mean, this game is clearly not a test of skill at chess. Leon can only win it by being that pawn on his t-shirt, the reactionary wild card. When he goes to the bathroom, it's because he's been knocked off balance. When he comes back, he's centered, and he understands the REAL challenge. It works well, and it makes me curious what happened in the bathroom.
Title: Re: Chess and the Professional
Post by: rong on January 03, 2012, 06:33:03 pm
i also very much enjoyed this.  i think with some more back story and character development this could be a very awesome 5-10 page short story.
Title: Re: Chess and the Professional
Post by: BadBeast on January 04, 2012, 02:07:50 am
Works really well just as it is. When he went to the bathroom, I suspect all he did was have a piss. Having a piss naturally focuses you on the job in hand anyway.
Title: Re: Chess and the Professional
Post by: Placid Dingo on January 06, 2012, 03:23:40 pm
Thanks all for the feedback. I'll play with it a little. And fix my tense errors! I hate those!

Cram I'll play with the internal monologue.

Rong I'll play with it.

Bb, after he took a piss it was meant to suggest he'd gone to the kitchen to get the knife.
Title: Re: Chess and the Professional
Post by: BadBeast on January 06, 2012, 05:04:37 pm
Doesn't everyone plays Chess with a large concealed blade on them?   :?
Title: Re: Chess and the Professional
Post by: Triple Zero on January 06, 2012, 10:59:25 pm
Ooh I really enjoyed this! Not only very well-written, but then the twist, and then the other twist!

One piece of constructive criticism, this sentence threw me for a loop a bit:

"Mr. West had a bookish, ordinary face, brown dull eyes and thin weedy fingers which darted over the pieces like a hawk chasing a mouse."

I don't know what a "bookish" face looks like? A face like a book? Or like a bookmaker/bookie? What does a bookmaker's face typically look like? Especially since the other two features of his face are very ordinary.

And "thin weedy fingers". I suppose "weedy" is like weed, thin vines? But you already said they're thin, so either I'm missing some denotation of "weedy" or it's a bit crufty.

Title: Re: Chess and the Professional
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 07, 2012, 12:10:40 am
When someone is described as having a "bookish" appearance it means they give the impression of someone who reads a lot; a nerd.

Usually it is used to describe habit, but can also be used to describe appearance.
Title: Re: Chess and the Professional
Post by: Triple Zero on January 07, 2012, 01:00:42 am
Aaaah, of course! Thanks! I would have looked it up, but I figured I'd just get def.1a: "of or relating to books" :lol:
Title: Re: Chess and the Professional
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 07, 2012, 01:52:38 am
YW!  :)
Title: Re: Chess and the Professional
Post by: Placid Dingo on January 23, 2012, 06:00:42 am
Thank you both for feedback. Trip, you're right about the fingers thing; weedy has that unpleasant tone to it that helps to give an image of the character. But I can always ditch 'thin' to avoid repetition.