I started Game 4 of Chess with Charles on Monday, April 23. After weeks of having only one or two adversaries, I suddenly found myself facing many—so many, I feared the game would end before I could write about it.

It looks like I’m going to lose this one, two, I see a theoretical chance for victory but it requires the other side to make two mistakes in a row. The odds of that are highly unlikely. Here’s how the game played out this week.

I launched the new game with White KNight to c3. Alois Geiger, the Huntington Harbour resident who won the last game, moved the Black KNight to c6. I then moved the White pawn to e4.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone, perhaps my arch nemesis, came in the same day and moved the black pawn to d5. I moved the White Bishop to c4.

Toby Schamberger of Seal Beach—the first and so far only child to join the game— moved the Black KNight to a5, threatening the White Bishop. I moved the White Bishop back to d3.

Mangone returned the next day to move a Black KNight to f6. I moved a White pawn to b4, threatening the Black Knight at a5.

Then Mike Hashem of Santa Monica came by the office to do some business with one of our sales reps. Hashem joined the game. We exchanged several moves because the rules for Chess with Charles allow one or more exchanges and because Hashem came a fair distance and I didn’t want him to think Seal Beachers to be ungracious hosts. (Given how fast the game has moved, I’m going to change the rules starting with the next game and make it one move at a time for each participant.)

Hashem moved the Black Bishop to b4. I moved the White KNight to b5. Hashem: Black Bishop to c5. White Queen to f3. (That might have been a mistake. The books all say inexperienced players use the queen too soon. However, having lost three games in a row I felt inclined to be aggressive. Better to go down fighting than to go down crawling.)

Hashem: Black pawn to d6. White Queen to g3. Black KNight to h5. White Queen to g4. Black pawn to g6. White Queen to f3. Black Bishop to d4. White Bishop to a3. That would definitely prove to be a mistake—my Bishop was now exposed to an attack. The Hashem/Kelly contest ended there because closing time arrived.

Matt Murphree of Old Town Seal Beach, moved Black KNight to f4. I moved the White Queen to g3.

Mangone returned and moved the Black KNight to d3, placing the White King in check.

My White pawn captured the Black KNight, rescuing my King. Now the bloodletting began. Mangone moved the Black Bishop to d7. White Knight to c3.

Alois Geiger returned and moved the Black Bishop to c3, capturing the White KNight.

White Queen to e3.

Geiger moved the Black Bishop to e4. The White Queen moved to h6.

Mangone moved the Black Queen to f6. He said I could resign any time.

With all due respect, sir, I would rather fail than quit.

I moved my White KNight to f3.

Matt Murphree moved a Black pawn to d5. I castled. My King was now at g1. My Rook was now at f1.

Murphree moved a Black pawn to e4, capturing one of my pawns. I moved a pawn to e4, capturing one of Black’s pawn.

Andres (Andy) Secuban castled for Black, placing the Sun Region’s King at b8 and the Rook at c8. This was a good move and exposed another of my mistakes: I’d been so focused on thwarting a potential castle move on my right that I overlooked the possibility my adversary would castle in the other direction. The odds of my winning the game had just been radically reduced.

I moved the White Rook to b1. Secuban moved the Black Rook to c8. White pawn to d3. Secuban: Black Bishop to g4. White Queen to c1.

Secuban moved the Black Bishop to capture the White KNight. White Bishop to b2. Black Bishop to b2, capturing the White Bishop.

White Queen to b1. Secuban: Black Bishop to g2, capturing a White pawn. White King to g2, capturing the Black Bishop. Secuban: Black Rook to d3, capturing White pawn. White Queen to b5. Black Queen to f3. White King to f1. Black Rook to d1.

White Rook to d1, capturing Black Rook. Secuban: Black Queen to d1, capturing the White Rook and placing the White King in check.

White King to g2. Secuban moved the Black King to g4, once again placing the White King in check. (Theoretically, this could go on forever.) I moved the White King to f1.

Secuban, like Mangone before him, politely suggested I resign. I politely declined. To be fair, both men are quite right: the odds against my winning are astronomical.

I have four pawns, a King and a Queen. Most of my pawns are still in Row 2, far from the action and in no position to protect the King or attack any of Black’s chessmen. My Queen is the only piece that has the power to launch an effective attack, but it is extremely difficult to win a chess game with only one strong piece. Not impossible, but difficult.

Black has also taken casualties. Black has seven pawns, one Rook, one KNight, one Queen and of course the King. You’ll notice, though, that this is the first game since I started that I’ve managed to reduce the ranks of Black’s stronger chessmen. I’ve captured one enemy Rook, one enemy KNight and two enemy Bishops. I may lose, but my defeat will have to be earned.

That said, I can’t force readers and other players to endure an endless series of checks that constantly repeat. At the moment, I could move the King back and fourth between f1 and g2 indefinitely. So if I am unable to escape from the apparently hopeless position I’m in by close of business Thursday, May 3, I’ll resign this game. That means either someone has to accomplish a full blown checkmate against me or I have to inflict some real damage on the other side—or I’ll be forced to do the thing I hate most in all the world: quite.

Your move, Sun Region. Come and get me.


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