The general scans the sixteen muted troops under his command. He knows they will obey him without second thoughts, and sacrifice themselves at a single command.
"Pawn to E4."
My brother was sitting in front of me, concentrating on the board. I couldn't let him beat me, not this time. I narrowed my view and focused on the black and white squares. There they stood, those familiar pieces, hoping to win for a change. I shut my ears, my mouth, directed my thoughts, and controlled my emotions. The game unfolded before me, slowly as it should, each move counting, as if it could be the last. Every action was a risk, every opportunity, a trap. Infinite possibilities danced before my eyes, luring me into mistakes, calling me with their sweet voices hoping to lead me out of the victorious path. Infinite possibilities, but only one that would turn the tide in my favor.He intently watches the battlefield and evaluates his opponent's forces. He knows the war will be drawn on indefinitely; he wisely decides to forgo any impulsive moves.
"Knight to H3."
Pawns fell on either side. Every square was fought for and every piece was cherished as a relic, a treasure. As a tactic to defend, instead of attack, I pushed my brother out of my half of the table, my territory. I tempted him with traps, but he wouldn't be fooled by my childish ruses so I changed my strategy. Like a fox, quick and unnoticed, I was on the offensive. With well calculated moves I forced him into error and took his knight. A triumph. Emotion took hold of my body and suddenly I felt the asphyxiating heat and heard the noisy world around me. Yet it had been a small victory, not a definitive one.A shiver runs down his spine, his eyes blurred, but he has to keep a cool head. The confrontation has no end in the foreseeable future and he only cares to make his troops last.
"Bishop to C5."
My troops stood, stoic, against a patient and organized army. They fought for me so I could not disappoint them. I was immersed in the game once more, my mind captured by that 30×30 cm piece of wood. Another accomplishment followed. His bishop fell to the hands of my warriors. I could feel victory drawing near. My muscles relaxed and my mind took a break. That was enough for reality to hit me. In a careless move, I lost my own bishop. I let him down. How many mistakes had I made before? How many defeats had those hasty moves caused? I doubted. My well built plan had tripped over a stone and had difficulty rising to its feet. The next move would be a decisive one.Flashbacks flood his mind; make him remember past battles and defeats. He shakes his head as to get rid of the idea. He will not let the ghosts of his past haunt him. He is a general, not a pawn. His reaction now is what will make him stand apart from his subjects.
"Queen to E6."
That moment I realized that it was up to me. I could lay down my arms, and take the coward's way out. Or I could raise my head, look my brother in the eye, and let him know the match wasn't over yet. My soldiers empathized with me and strived on to victory. They attacked, with the elegance only chess figures can achieve. Smoothly sliding through the terrain, the white legion spread, without vacillation, like spilled milk. The end was imminently nearer. It was when I saw my brother collapse. In one moment I saw her, his queen, unprotected. Again and scanned the table for all possibilities. I sought for a trap or for any great move, but there was none. The only truth was that the queen stood there for me, defenseless. Slowly, fearfully, I took her out. I lifted my unbelieving eyes to my brother's face; he was dumbfounded. I felt my emotions build up, rushing from my stomach to my mouth wanting to yell, "Victory!" But I didn't. I controlled myself and hid my sentiments. The job wasn't done yet.The sun rises in the horizon. The path is clear for triumph, gold and glory, and the general knows that his effort has paid off.
"Bishop to G7."
The game kept on, but the forces were quite uneven by now. What I didn't know was that the climax had already passed. I can't recall how, but I know that I had finally done it. I had beaten my brother, my mentor, and I had beaten myself. The clash was over and the victory short lived. The next game would unravel a new battle with new strategies and challenges.