Spider's amazing chess triumph!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Yet another true story of my travails trying to play chess on building sites

Submitted: December 22, 2008

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Submitted: December 22, 2008



Spider's great chess triumph!

Spider, so called because of the spider and web tattoo which stretched from his left ear to his collar bone, wasn't a great chess player.

Don't get me wrong, he enjoyed the game, and took loosing in his stride, only ever shaking his head in amazement at his loss and resetting the pieces for another doomed attempt.

Spider, or John as he was really called, was a Bricklayer foreman, I met and worked with him in and around London on several sites. The action in this true story took place on a site near Staines an unremarkable job really, five brickies in all on site, and three of them lefties, John and I were two of the sinister group

As was my habit, I took a chess set in to work with me to see if I could turn up some action. My usual modus operandi was to produce the set and board and a chess magazine and run through some games on my own at tea breaks, making no comment unless asked.

Later, whilst we were building a wall together, (I would never normally be paired with another 'leftie' but we had a surfeit of them) John mentioned the chess playing and asked if I would give him some games, he explained that, he enjoyed the game since learning how to play in prison, no reason for his incarceration was ever mentioned or asked, he wasn't he assured me a good player by any means, but would like to have the chance to improve his game, as he had taught his two sons how to play and they were already beating him.

We commenced to play at every break time, John was as keen as I, setting up the pieces as soon as we entered the cabin. As soon as we had established that the orientation of the board was quite important and the correct squares for the king and queen had been satisfactorily settled we played some games.

En passant was looked upon with some disbelief, however I brought a copy of Bott and Morrisons Chess for Children for John to show his sons and after that the move was reluctantly allowed.

It soon became apparent, that if I were not to die of boredom, I would have to give Spider odds, and the appropriate amount was in my opinion queen odds.

Now, for those readers who have never played a casual non club player this might seem excessive, but I was there, and you are simply going to have to take my word for it, without a queen for me, we were more nearly equal.

Playing without a major piece even against a very weak opponent becomes an exercise in speedy development, opening moves other than d4 or e4 become irrelevant, and exchanges with out significant points advantage are a definite no-no.

I always took the white side in these games, and hacked off any en prise pieces unmercifully. Looking always for an immediate attack against f7.

Inevitably after a few weeks of loosing Spider started to grasp the relative values of the pieces and realised that equal (ish) exchanges favoured him very heavily, and finally the day came when he won a game. Even I was surprised at the unmitigated pleasure on his face, he turned to the room and announced, "At last, I've beaten the Northern Bastard!" (my nickname on site due to my thick Yorkshire accent).

Even when one of the other brickies pointed out that he did only win with a queen advantage from the start, his pleasure was undiminished.

Having in his own opinion reached a similar standard of play to me Spider refused to play any more.

Alan Dewey.

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