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The Chess Players

by Boris Kokotov

He’s back, Jeffrey, he’s back!

Gray pants, polo shirt?

Yep, it’s him.

Never seen the guy before.

You don’t pay attention to what is going on around you.

Should I?

Well, he does come by here from time to time.

What for?

To play, I guess.

With us?

With one of us.

Then it will be you, Paul.

Why not you?

He’s not in my league!

I think he just wants to know the next move.

Chessplayers monument

No one could expect any move from us!

Not from us, from the pieces.

Why move the pieces?

To know the outcome. To know the winner!

In our case the only outcome is a draw.

Then why play?

Are we really playing?

Well, the board is right here.

Playing involves moving the pieces.

Let’s move one!

You try!

I will when the polo shirt is gone.

Do it now. Surprise him!

I wonder how we arrived at the current position.

It’s been the same from the very beginning.


In the beginning the board was empty.

It will be empty at the end of the game.

At the end there will be no board. Just us sitting on the bench.

What are we going to do without the board?

The same thing we’re doing now, nothing.

The board still makes a difference.

Of course it does. Without a board there is no game.

And without a game there are no expectations.

And without expectations nobody will come to check on us.

Is the guy still here?

Right behind you. Turn around, you’ll see him.

To turn around I need a tornado.

You’re always looking for an excuse!

And you’re always looking for a distraction!

I see the Russian, that’s all I know.

What makes you think he’s a Russian?

Something in his manners...

Do they have manners?

Not really.

Have you ever played against a Russian?

No. You’re my only partner.

Partner for life, so to speak.

Not exactly.

You don’t know much beyond chess, do you?

Maybe not. But you don’t even know much about chess!

I know enough.

Enough for what?

To make the next move.

You’ve never made a move!

Happy with my current position. No reason for change.

No reason for hope either.

I’m staying away from politics, Paul.

Sitting away from politics, Jeffrey. We both are sitting away from everything.

Then what does this guy come here for?

Perhaps to study how to sit away from everything.

Why? He could move the pieces, the board, even the bench.

But he cannot sit motionless for half a century, like us.

One day we may find him cast next to us. As a spectator.

Would we accept him then?

I think we already have, partner.

Text copyright © 2013 by Boris Kokotov
image source: Lloyd Lillie, Chessplayers Statues in Marshall Park, Washington, D.C.

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