by Connor Philips


He moves his king pawn one place ahead, I move my king pawn two. His queen diagonal to the edge, I use what foresight he taught me, I don’t want to stack my pawns so I push my rook pawn to face his queen. He can take it if he wants to relinquish his queen and I can free my pawn. His King bishop out four places– he didn’t fall for the trap. I want his queen! King knight forward two left one, “Your queen’s under attack,” I say smugly, either he will back off or lose his queen.

He smiles, only his gums show, he doesn’t have his teeth in. His queen diagonal two places capturing my pawn. “Checkmate.” He says it so simply, so profound. I stare incredulously– four moves! I lost in four moves. Yet it is obvious, if I take his queen with my king he gets my king with his bishop. I lost….

“You wanna know why you lost?”

“Cause I suck papa,” I reply humiliated.

He laughs, breaking into a coughing fit, and says, “Well yeah, but you forgot the cardinal rule of life.”

“And what’s that?” I ask still staring at the exchange that had just taken place.

“Chess is exactly like life,” he said. ‘Oh great, another one of his tangents’ I thought. “The reason you lost is because you hesitated. In life don’t ever hesitate. Mikey,” he leaned in all serious like, “if you are going to kill someone kill them, don’t think about it.”

I stared blankly at the solemness. “I’m not gonna kill anyone papa.”

He shook his head, “I’m not talking bout killing someone. Just remember– don’t hesitate.” I nodded swallowing at the gravity of his tone. “Now,” he said lifting his queen in the air and twirling it in his fingers, “the other reason you lost is because of your ignorance of women.”

“It’s just a chess piece….”

“Oh no,” he replied tsking his tongue. “Have no doubt. This,” he displayed the queen proudly, “is a woman. And as long as you remember the rules about women you will have a happy life.”

“How do women have anything to do with life?” I ask perplexed.

He laughs again, no cough this time, “Women are life Mikey, and making them happy will make you happy.”

I suppress the urge to roll my eyes, I had already learned my lesson about that long ago. “Okay then. What are the rules of women?” I try to keep the sarcasm out of my voice.

“Women get what they want. She,” he presented the queen to me, “wanted your king, and she got it. You didn’t have to do anything.” He leaned in again and I knew I had to pretend to pay attention. He put more emphasis in his voice, “A woman gets what she wants. You don’t have to chase a woman if she wants you. She will come to you.”

“So that’s why I couldn’t capture her?” I ask trying to give the old man something to signify I was listening.

“Yes and no,” he replies, and again I suppress the urge to roll my eyes. “A woman gets what she wants yes, but keeping her is an entirely different matter.”

He goes silent as if contemplating, but I know he really just wants me to goad him into telling me. I do my best impression of sincerity, “So what is the secret to keeping a woman?”

His eyes sparkle with a smile, “Desirability and safety.” He lets it hang there as if I would relish in the profound pronouncement. “In one context or another a woman wants to either be told she’s beautiful or she’s going to be safe. Like in chess, I make her feel desirable by moving her first, and then make her feel safe by putting my bishop in back up. That’s why I was able to keep her.”


Connor is a man of leisure, trying to imbue his past experiences into tales for all. He is an avid reader and studier of all things he finds interesting.

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