The Rules of Chess
“Yes, Mike. It happens every day after work. Amazing, isn’t it?” Larry stretched and glanced over at the chessboard that Mike had set up. “Another game? You can’t be serious.”
“Indeed I am,” Mike responded.
“But I beat you six times in a row yesterday, and they were all Scholar’s Mates.”
“No you didn’t. And your use of the term ‘Scholar’ there is pejorative.”
“That’s the name of the move.”
“You’re just blustering and pretending to be an intellectual elite.”
Larry sighed. “Look, Mike, I just got back from work. I’m tired. I don’t want to play a game of chess right now.”
“Because you’re a coward and you know you lost.”
“No, it’s because I don’t feel like trouncing you again.”
“You know, you’ve got a real attitude. You didn’t come anywhere near beating me. I beat you each time.”
“When I checkmate you, I win. Not you.”
“Your claims of checkmate were unverifiable. I could still move.”
“Moving the king six spaces is not a legal move, Mike.”
Mike put his hands on his hips. “Oh really? Says who?”
“It’s the rules of chess.”
“Oh, the mysterious magic rules of chess. How convenient for you that they just happen to benefit you, huh?”
“They’re the rules—”
“I can’t see them.”
“I can’t see them. They don’t exist. You believe in this mythical thing you call ‘rules’ that you’ve never seen with your own eyes.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“You know what, Larry? You have a serious problem here. You have to win at all costs.”
Larry rolled his eyes. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the object of a game of chess to, you know, win?”
“Yes. But not at all costs.”
“I don’t win at all costs. I win by playing a good offense and a good defense. Yours doesn’t measure up.”
“You really ought to check your elitist tendencies.”
“‘Check’ them. That’s a clever pun.”
“Never mind, Mike. It was obviously an accidental pun. I should have guessed it, as poorly as you play chess.”
“Now listen here, Larry. Just because you declared yourself the winner by invoking some mystery magic ‘rule’ that floats invisibly up in the air somewhere watching over us while we play a game of chess does not mean that you play chess better than me.”
“Of course not. Rather, it’s my continual slaughtering of your defense and capturing your king that shows my chess skill trumps yours.”
“Such violent metaphors! I’ll bet you beat your wife!”
Larry looked at Mike. “Okaaaaaay.”
Mike stood and gestured angrily at Larry. “I’m not going to stand for this anymore!” He stormed out of the room.
Larry sighed and soon forgot it. Tomorrow was Saturday and he planned to sleep in. Unfortunately, he was woken at eight in the morning by a knock at the door.
“Are you Lawrence Adams?” the man at the door asked.
“Yes,” Larry said, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
Before Larry could react, he was thrown to the floor. “What are you doing?”
“Dr. Graves has informed us you’re a threat to yourself.” Larry’s arms were pushed into the straightjacket.
“That’s right,” Mike said, entering behind the men. “It’s in my report.”
“He’s a psychology PhD,” the man restraining Larry provided helpfully.
“And I’ve made my report. Larry, you exhibit all the symptoms of a disease known as Mania. You have a narcissistic flair or ‘grandiosity’ to your personality. You are quite intolerant of others. Indeed, you have an ego-centric paradigm that means you simply lack the ability to consider the thoughts and feelings of those around you. It’s all about your thoughts and feelings. Sadly, no facts, reasoning, or logic will change you. On the contrary, arguing with you simply increases your mania, and for that I apologize. I have been provoking, perhaps envoking (I’m not sure which word to use) your illness by playing chess with you.
“The fact is, Larry, when you say, ‘I and those who play chess like me are better at chess than you’ then that’s the first sign that we’re dealing with some mental illness, and we must react with appropriate humanity. That’s why you will be taken back to my asylum and given shock treatments from now on.
“Don’t worry. I’m sure after just a few months of those shock treatments you’ll be able to play chess just as well as I can, and then you can reintegrate into society.”
Mike watched as Larry was dragged out of the house proclaiming his innocence. It was sad. The insane never realize they’re not crazy.