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domingo, 9 de marzo de 2008

Chess

There were many people invited for dinner that night.

We had met 10 days ago and with the line of “show me your city” “muestrame tua citta”, I offered him a minitour after work that I knew how it was going to end.
On the first night of the minitour we agreed in almost everything and it was the pleasure of being met, and the beginning of being liked one more time. Ideas were dancing in delicious harmony but understanding only half due to the distance of the language and as a result of the delicate proximity of the Italian.
Slowly we started to cross something other than the avenues of the “mia citta”.

Going back to that night, I remember perfectly how the Italian was seated at the head of the very elegant long table. Even though he was not the host, he displayed an aristocratic posture in the midst of a group of young Argentinean professionals.

I was there, painfully shy and like a little girl, wanting to slip under the table. The formality of the occasion and my good manners stopped me.

Nobody knew how well the Italian was discovering the “citta” and me. I was a little proud and found it rather charming when I noticed that one of the Argentinean lady was trying to capture his attention with her inane “Cosmopolitan” questions.
He did not speak much; he was polite, formal, and self confident.
I, on the other hand, adopt sometimes an extremely timid façade in formal groups, and all the while I was wondering which of the Baccarat wineglasses I was going to destroy as a result of my clumsiness.
I did not speak English and could only imagine Italian.
The rest of the guests were very well educated, very cosmopolitan, very well traveled, very, very.
The tapestry hanging behind the head of the table accentuated the exquisite décor and immediately transported me to a place where evasion was the final destination.

There, in the left corner of this beautiful room, was a marvelous chess board surrounded by an array of antiques. Around me various European languages were being spoken, pretentious comments were being made of which I could decipher a third or less.

The brilliance of the silverware intimidated me, but it was the anticipation of how I would vulnerably fit one more time that made me feel even more inadequate. I veiled my inadequacy with comatose quiet.

The eagle observed my every move from the head of the table, as he answered predictable questions “what have you seen of Buenos Aires?”, “te piacce?” His answers had a double meaning while he was looking at me. He was in control, while my actions pointed towards the French crystal with eminent danger.

The tension and the anticipation of who would make the first move hung between us, unperceived by everyone else in the room.
My eight pawns were motionless. He watched me and only I could discern his lethal gestures. I was timid, yet physically dangerous. He was elegantly sure of himself.

Many of the diners were showing off their great successes, while I continued to plot moves in my mental chess board with its beautiful and seductive game pieces. I was not paying attention to the conversation that surrounded me, and by the way he was looking at me, I knew he was not interested in the conversation either. I wanted to disappear, but not. This could be a wasted encounter, and I knew it.

Whispering softly to the host of this exquisite gathering, I bade my farewells and thanked him for a breathtaking evening. I begged him not to get up but just tell me where I could find my coat. I walked along a hallway looking for the blessed key that would deliver me from this state of mind.


As I walked into the room, I felt his kiss on the back of my shoulder. My pawn, at 5e3Ab46Dc2 retreated slowly allowing itself to be kissed. His four pawns advanced simultaneously 1.Cf3 Cf6 2.d4 e6 3.c4 b6 as I timidly slid to the right, one more move 9.bxc3 0–0 10.Aa3 Te8. His rook moved above 13...Dxd7 kicking two of his pawns off the board as he moved in my direction. I moved my bishop diagonally 6...Ab7, and he grabbed it with his free hand while the other slid down my body. My pieces started falling slowly as a signal of defeat. His knight advanced, devouring the game pieces in the way of his move toward Tad1 Tc8 13.cxd5. My pieces gave way to his king Tgt5 H8u. His knight galloped towards my queen between my last two pawns.

No French crystal was shattered, but the pieces of that old chess game were spread out everywhere in that room.
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