A Game of PrideSachin Varghese
"Aditya, it's almost time for your game. I hope you're ready." Aditya's trainer, Gopi, warned him. "Don't underestimate your opponent. Binoy may be young, but he is fierce. I've analyzed his games before, and he is much smarter than anyone you've ever played. It isn't surprising, though. This is chess, after all.
Gopi wasn't kidding. Binoy was one of the highest rated players in the state, while Aditya was known to be one of the best in his locality, where chess was taken very seriously. Every month, they held championship matches in front of the local sweet shop.
"Don't worry, Gopi. I'll try my best. I've been training for this." Gopi grinned. "Alright, it's time. Let's go."
They proceeded to the sweet shop, where every public match was held. Binoy was already there. He laughed. "Look who it is, the local champion, Aditya! You're about to be dethroned for good. Let's place bets already. Here's fifty rupees."
Gopi stood along with the crowd as Aditya took fifty rupees out and placed it on the table. "Binoy's a bit of a cocky fellow, isn't he?", someone whispered. "Yup, but don't worry, Aditya will take him down."
The game started. Aditya was black. Gopi watched every move carefully. Aditya played well, but Binoy, however, was in the lead. Aditya rubbed his chin, as he thought of his next move. He was a knight and a bishop down, and Binoy had a solid position. There was virtually nothing he could do to win. "I... I resign."
Binoy laughed, and exclaimed "Ha, who's the best in town now? It's about time you give up on chess, you played terribly." He grabbed the money and left.
The crowd started to leave in disappointment. "Don't worry Aditya, it's only fifty rupees.", Gopi said. "It wasn't just fifty rupees, Gopi. He took away much more than that. I need a rematch. Next week."
The news of the rematch spread and reached Binoy a few days later. He accepted it with a laugh. "Tell Aditya I'll play. A few extra bucks won't hurt."
Meanwhile, Gopi was busy training Aditya for his game. That week, Aditya did nothing but practice. He wanted to win so bad. The night before the match, though, Gopi came to him with bad news.
"Aditya, I know you've been training hard, but, unfortunately, I don't see much of a big improvement. You still aren't at Binoy's level yet. If you play tomorrow, I fear you will be beaten just as bad as you were last time."
Aditya was depressed. "I guess I might as well give up then. It'll be useless if I play."
"Actually, Aditya, I've noticed something about his game. He always starts with opening moves we call the "Chichilian defense". The opening is almost flawless, except that there's a variation you can play."
"What's it called?", asked Aditya, curiously.
"The Chinese dinosaur variation. It can be used to counter the Chichilian. If he plays the same opening, which he usually does, the Chinese dinosaur can be used to trap his most valuable piece, his queen. I can teach you the moves if you want, but there's a small problem..."
"What's the problem? "
"After you capture his queen, your position will be weak. Most of your pieces will be undefended, and your king will be open to attack. Judging by the kind of player Binoy is, he'll be able to use this to his advantage. Chances are, he'll make up for the loss and still win. However, this is your only hope. It's your choice whether or not to use it tomorrow, but be warned, it is very risky."
Gopi and Aditya stayed up and discussed the Chinese Dinosaur variation for the rest of the night.
The next morning, it was time for the match. Aditya and Binoy were at the table, and a bet of fifty rupees was placed. Gopi and the villagers watched intently, as Binoy was about to make his first move. Aditya thought to himself "If Binoy moves the pawn in front of the king first, it's going to be the Chichilian. That's my only hope."
Aditya watched as Binoy thought about something. His hand waved over the king pawn, and finally moved it. He was going for the Chichilian again.
Aditya knew he had to play the Chinese dinosaur. He began playing, according to what Gopi had taught him the night before. On the tenth move, Aditya cut his queen. Binoy laughed. "The Chinese dinosaur? Are you kidding me? Do you know how many times I've destroyed my opponents who played this variation? Look at your pathetic position! "
Aditya remained silent. Gopi couldn't bear to watch anymore, so he slipped away from the crowd. Binoy moved his knight. "You know, from my next move, I'm going to start taking your pieces off the board."
Aditya looked at the board. His position was terrible, and Binoy's was rock-solid. Every piece was defended. Aditya didn't want to surrender to him again. He thought hard about what he could do. Then it struck him... he had a material advantage. He needed to use it.
Aditya cut Binoy's rook with his queen. "Are you kidding me now? You're sacrificing your queen for my rook? Terrible move, it's defended!" Binoy cut his queen. Aditya continued to cut all of Binoy's defended pieces. He already had a material advantage, and Binoy couldn't just let him extend it. The exchange of pieces continued until Binoy had a knight, bishop and king, while Aditya had a knight, bishop, king and rook. Aditya had an extra piece.
Binoy looked at the board in disbelief. Aditya sat calmly, waiting for his next move. That's when he heard it. The words that would echo in his mind for years to come.
Binoy stood up, and offered his hand to Aditya. "I've never seen anyone convert a position like that to a win. Aditya, I'm sorry. You are indeed a great player." Binoy gave him a smile, as he turned around and walked away. The crowd was ecstatic. Their champion was back.
At home, Gopi was astonished to hear the news. "Aditya, I can't believe my ears... how did you do it?"
"I focused on my advantages instead of disadvantages. I didn't waste time trying to defend my pieces. That'd be useless. I was a piece ahead, and I took complete control of the game with that. I didn't look at my weakness and give up. I looked at my strength and kept trying."
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