February 3, 2020: Checkmate Instead of Goodnight

It’s 4:00 AM, almost dawn. Black and white squares everywhere I look. Sixty-four. I’ve been playing chess all night, fighting to control the center, chasing the enemy’s king. Gambits and sacrifices. From opening to middlegame to endgame… How many games? About a hundred, I guess, or maybe more. Blitz and Bullet. Bishops, Knights, Rooks, and Queens — everything was sacrificed. My time also was sacrificed. This game, the game of the gods, is poison. It’s a board game, yes, but it’s larger than life. “Life is too short for chess,” a great player once said. And he wasn’t joking. What a game! I’m in bed now, finally, warming my feet under the blanket. But my head is still filled with the images and sounds of chessmen. When I close my eyes I see the board. I’m in quicksand, sinking, sinking slowly. I can’t sleep. I have a fever. Tonight, checkmate instead of good night.

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