Monday, 1 September 2008

The San Franciscan defence

They are calling it Chiolence, or at least they should do. The spate of violence that is afflicting the beautiful game. Yes my friends, I saw a punch up at a chess match.

There I was on the streets of San Francisco - Though Michael Douglas wasn't with me this time (that's a joke for all the 70s American cop show fans out there).

On Market Street I spotted a street chess match going on - There were about ten tables on a street corner. Lots of people playing and a few watching.

Now I'm not averse to the spot of street chess. I have been destroyed by old men on street chess boards on two continents. I do play a little chess but I'm not that good.

I wandered over as I was perhaps interested in a game, but there was something different about this street chess gathering - It seemed to me that they were playing for money.

As I was taking in the scene an elderly black man caught my eye and motioned me to come and play, no doubt salivating at the thought of some fresh meat to win some cash off. Judging from the way he was expertly riffling a couple of pieces in his hand, he had some mad skillz. And although I am definitely a dedicated gambler on the poker table, I know when I'm outmatched.

I was just about to walk off when suddenly a commotion errupted - Two people began to shout at each other and one and then the other stood up, still on either sides of the chessboard, still shouting. Obviously there was some disagreement and money was on the line. A woman in a wheelchair who was watching decided to join in and began screaming something unintelligible. The only word I caught was the last one she shouted, the sound of which hung in the air like a gunshot "Motherf*cker!" - I assumed that this diatribe was the Northern Californian chess equivalent of "leave it Kev, it's not worth it."

That's when things went a bit crazy. I could see what was going to happen here, two people arguing over a chessboard. And you've guessed it, one grabbed the board and threw if off the table, scattering pieces everywhere. Straight away his opponent picked up a piece from the floor and threw it at the first guy, hitting him straight in the head. I really wish he'd have shouted "check", but that would have been too perfect. I think it was a bishop he threw. I'm not sure if that was because it was quite pointy, or if he wanted to throw diagonally?

Then the punches and wrestling began, a crowd gathered and I'm not sure what happened next as I wandered off to get some pizza, thoroughly disgusted at the violence blighting modern day chess.

So just remember kids. Say no to Chiolence!

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