I am in love with an addict. That’s right, A. has an addiction. To chess. The man has spent hours and hours playing online chess — deep into the night. And when I’m with him, the fastest way for me to see his face light up like a little boy’s is to suggest we play a game. Sadly, I have to wait till we get to Tanzania to see this super cute expression. And although I like chess, I don’t obsess over it (or let’s be honest, really have patience for the end-game). But playing it with A. means quality time — we’ve played on the train to New York, at the airport in Costa Rica, at L’Enfant Cafe over egg-filled crepes and a big latte. It’s something we share — even though he does beat me 89.3 percent of the time. (He might argue it’s higher).
When we’re at my place, we play on this transportable board that my brother bought when he lived in Germany. One of the pawns is missing, so we use a 5-cent pfenning (the German cent that isn’t valid currency anymore) as a replacement.
When we’re at A.’s place (I should say “were,” since he has moved out) we play on this set that A. handcrafted and finished over the summer. It took the man a year to make. He bought all of the raw materials and designed it himself. He agonized over how to make the knights (in my sophisticated way, I call them horses). I think it’s one of the most beautiful things ever.
And a few weeks ago, A. sent me this chess board from Afghanistan — hand-carved out of stone from somebody in a nearby village. He later told me it was the first pretty thing that caught his eye since he was on base, where there “is not much to see or do.” I can’t wait to play on it with him. I have the feeling the horses will dominate.