I Am Just a Chessplayer's Widow by Lois Wall
Chess is too boring for me. It's too complicated. I have to shut up when I am playing chess and
can't gossip like I can when I am playing cards and other board games. That clock with the tick, tick, tick
gets on my nerves. My husband's chess friends are just too nerdy and smart for me. They may be
geniuses at the chess table, but they all seem wierd. They have no social graces. If I
invite then over for lunch or dinner, they start playing chess with the salt and pepper shakers
and bits of food on my checkboard table cloth. I think I am clever and have Pepperidge
chess cookies for snacks. But they all just chow down on them and never notice. In fact,
they never notice anything I cook or that I spent all day preparing a good meal. I once
put out dog biscuits in a snack bowl, and they ate that while playing blitz chess! And there
are never any women chess players to socialize with. If a chess player is lucky enough to
have a girl friend or wife, they are usually not invited to tournaments or chess clubs or
chess socials. At least I don't have to worry about my husband flirting at a chess
tournament. There are no women there to flirt with. Occasionally, there might be one
or two, but they are too smart to engage on conversation with a male chess player.
My husband can remember every chess game, every chess opponent, every chess
tournament, every chess trivia, but he can't remember to take out the trash on
Tuesdays and Fridays. I have to do that. He forgot. He can remember a chess
conversation, but he can't remember me taking to him just a few minutes ago asking if
he wants to go to the movies. And I don't want to see Searching For Bobby Fischer again.
I want to go see Sleepless in Seattle and not some stupid movie about a crazy chess player.
He only likes movies with chess scenes in it and tries to find mistakes with the chess
scenes, like an illegal position or the board set up wrong ("White to the Right"). I want
to be romantic. He wants to mate in other ways. I want flowers. He want chess books.
My house is full of chess things. I hate dusting chess trophies and sets, picking up chess
magazines from the floor, dropping a magnetic set and unable to find a lost piece, or
putting chess books away on the book shelves where they belong. I put the chess books up
anywhere, but my husband has to have all the books in order, by alphabetical order according
to author. Who cares? I have nice guest rooms, and my husband has to use the space to
store more chess books or chess sets. I like the Civil War chess set, but my husband thinks
it is impractical and wants to display some nice Staunton set, or whatever it is called.
And those chess trophies just have to be displayed. They are cheap. The fall apart. The
plaque falls off and I have to glue it back on. And they are so hard to move around. And, of
course, my husband wants to have a display case to display them. I would rather use my
display case to show off my Gone With The Wind plate collection. I want $35 worth of flowers
to display around the house. My husband wants a $35 new chess book from Amazon.
And most of the famous chess players are boring or can't speak English. The only
exciting chess player was Bobby Fischer, and he no longer plays chess. And why
arrest the guy for playing chess in the first place. Leave him alone. I won't talk to any
famous chess player unless it's Bobby Fischer. He was exciting and the women loved him.
Now he is probably rotting in some Japanese jail and still won't play normal chess ever again.
Chess takes too long to play. Sure, you can speed it up with a chess clock, but that rushes
me and makes me nervous. And I still can't gossip, share recipies, talk about my favorite
movies or TV shows, or take a break for a snack. If I talk, some rude person has to say
BE QUIET. I want to slug him. It's not like we are at the movies. I want to vacation to
some exotic place like Hawaii. My husband wants his vacation at the same time as the
U.S. Chess Open or go visit the Chess Hall of Fame (boring!). I don't want to be writing all
those moves down. Who cares? That's just another distraction. Let me move my horsey
the way I want to move it. And what's all these extra rules like en passant or castling but
not if you moved your king or rook first, or moving into check, but not in check when you
finished castling. Too many rules. And then if I lose, I have to be told where I went wrong and
what defense I should have used. Who wants to hear that and be told every move was wrong? And if
my husband does well in a chess tournament, he wants to show me the game and all the
brilliant moves, or if he lost, what he could have done different to win the game. Who cares?
Do you think I really am listening to all those variations and paying attention. I just smile
and say, "yes, dear." My husband has too many chess books and magazines anyway.
Sometimes I try to give them away to friends and relatives. I hope he doesn't notice. When
he is at a chess tournament and wants me to sell some chess books he has written, but
can't sell them himself because he is playing, it's up to me to try and sell them. I usually
give them away instead. If someone wants one of his chess books and are that desperate, I
usually give them the book. I'll even autograph it with his name to make it look important.
Chess players never have any money anyway. Look at their clothes they wear. Chess
tournaments are just too expensive to play in anyway. With hotel/motel costs and high
entry fees, a chess player spends several hundred dollars to tie for 3rd-7th place and get
$33.33. If I go to a chess tournament at a hotel, there better be a swimming pool and lots of
site-seeing to do before I tag along. The tournaments are so boring. It's not like there is a
Bobby Knight in basketball getting everyone excited. For once, I would like to see a chess
player lose and throw his chair like in a basketball game. And you should be allowed to talk and
root for the chess player of your choice. We should see cheerleaders yelling, "Push that Pawn.
Push that Pawn." Instead, I am told to shut up, be quiet, don't make any noises, don't
disturb the players, don't pose and take flash pictures with the players when a game is going on.
Boring. My husband says if he dies first, he wants a headstone in the shape of a rook. Like
that's going to happen. He gets a plot (no chessboard) and an obituary that does not
mention chess. He's done other things. Physicist. Electrical Engineer. Air Force officer for 25 years.
Combat duty flying in Vietnam. Served in the Gulf War. Assigned to NASA. Worked on the Space Shuttle.
Big shot computer security guy at a big company. Travels around the world for his company.
Interviewed by all these technical magazines. Very good at tennis. And all he wants to be
remembered is for his chess. And he is not that good at it. No grandmaster or international
master title. Not even a master any more. As he gets older, he gets slower and slower.
He should be spending more time with me and romancing me and checking me out, his mate. He wants me
to play chess with him. I just don't want to. Besides, if I started taking up chess, I might get
good at it, and start beating him. Then he would have to give it up. His ego wouldn't be able
to take it. He would probably then turn to something even worse. Golf!
I am just a poor, depressed chess widow. And my husband isn't even dead yet!
I am just a pawn forever, not even the Queen.
Lois Wall (chess widow of Bill Wall)