Upgrade to Chess.com Premium!

The Open File - The Troll Under My Chessboard

  • NM Zug
  • | Jan 3, 2010

The Open File

by Life Master Mike Petersen (Zug)

The Troll Under My Chessboard

I have come to the conclusion that William Shakespeare played chess.  This may not seem to be a startling revelation to you, but there's more.  It is my decided opinion that he played the Sicilian Defense - and one line in particular - the Najdorf.  Of course, he wouldn't have called it the "Najdorf" because Miguel was not his contemporary.  As a matter of fact, I will wager to say that he played the Poison Pawn variation.  How could I know that, you may ask.  Fair enough.  Since there are no known game scores in existence of William Shakespeare playing the Sicilian Defense, Najdorf, Poisoned Pawn variation, how do I know this?  Well, gee, haven't you read any of his works?  Don't you recall the line, "b2 or not b2, that is the question!"

Look, don't be amazed.  I came to this conclusion above only after careful consideration.  I have lots of thoughts like that.  For example, I've often pondered about the kinds of people who don't play chess.  For the most part, I would imagine that they have families, go to work, like certain sports, etc. just like normal people (i.e. - people who do play chess.)  I have tried to imagine what happened in their lives to deprive them of the ultimate in leisure activities.  Does this mean that they read books that are about people and places rather than variations?  Do they read Life and People rather than Chess Life and The Open File column?  How can they be happy?  Maybe it's the old maxim "They don't know what they're missing."  Too bad.

I also have thought about the diet of a chessplayer.  Of course, there isn't much to think about.  Question:  What did the weekend chessplayer do for food before the advent of fast food restaurants?  Did he bring sandwiches?  Did his Mom bring him soup during the games?  Maybe that's why we read stories of how some of the old masters died by starvation.  Not because they were poor, but because there was no time to eat between rounds!

I also know that we chessplayers are, as a rule, more intelligent than the average.  But we never show it!  Off we go to chess tournaments with just a simple "bye" or "see you Sunday night."  Well, let's get clever.  How about changing around a few of the foreign language methods of saying goodbye.  Here are some examples:  My feet are stained.  Old reservoirs.  I'll steal yer Visa.  Brain has no chess.

I wasn't going to write this column this week, but the Troll that lives under my chessboard made me do it.


  • 5 years ago


    I have a cat under my chessboard! Cool

  • 5 years ago


    "If I dont see you through the week I'll see you through the windae"

  • 5 years ago


    "How about changing around a few of the foreign language methods of saying goodbye.  Here are some examples:  My feet are stained.  Old reservoirs.  I'll steal yer Visa.  Brain has no chess."

    +1 for Brain has no chess.

    Don't forget about fine domestic options such as Jello Claw! for the Hawaiian demographic or Speech to Satyr! as a casual idiom upon departure

  • 5 years ago


    I usually play vs. CPU at home on one of my console systems. Eating is no problem, I just hit the 'pause' command and come back to the game when I'm done with dinner.

    As for playing vs. human, I have a little magnetic chess set (actually it's one of those multi-game kits with magnetic vinyl boards for a half-dozen other games inside) that I picked up at a used bookshop for $2. Helluva deal. ;) Anyway, it's small enough (about six inches/side when open) to fit in my purse, so I'll take it with me when my friends and I go out. We'll play at restaurants when we're waiting for our orders. Chess, sushi, and sake/green tea/Hello Kitty martinis (a Saketini house specialty with strawberry liqueur, vanilla liqueur, god knows what else, and whipped cream stirred in for thickness)/other beverage is a wonderful trio. ;) And since the board was cheap, if it gets wrecked, no harm no foul. I can just wipe the wayward soy sauce off. ;)

    Chess and mozzerella sticks is always a winning combo, too. Chess and wings, not so much. Sauce gets everywhere. :/

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    The way Poe analyzes Mälzels chess "computer" makes me think that he at least knew how to play :)

  • 5 years ago


    Yeah, and Hamlet has the word 'mate' hidden in it, and is about a King from Norway.

    It has magic in it - old word magus......and after just a couple of strong whiskeys, you can see where this is going!

    Norway - King - Magnus

  • 5 years ago


    While chess may come first, eating ranks as a close second for me. Thus, I'd examine the tourney schedule before signing up, making sure that I'd find the time to zip to the nearest fast food joint before the next round ensued. Indeed, I may have partially acquired my moniker by too-eagerly offering a stretched out hand after looking at my watch or hearing my stomach growl.Wink

  • 5 years ago


    What about EA Poe - was he a chessplayer? This column reminds me a bit of "The Telltale Heart". :)

Back to Top

Post your reply: