18 November 2010

The Mystery of the Disappearing Rook

The mystery of the disappearing rook nearly merited a blog entry here. It was a psychologically unsettling experience for me, as encountering a mystery often tends to be for even the greatest among us. And I am not even among the greatest.
In the late Sunday afternoon yesterday I had guests here at the loft. Three of them. This is a rare thing indeed . . . . Yesterday was Sunday, wasn't it?

Fred, who drops up here regularly to chat in the late afternoon, does not count as a guest . . . Can one “drop up?” For that matter, can one really “drop by?” That is perhaps a subject for another blog entry. Anyway. . .
I knew these guests were coming. Therefore, I had determined to employ a convention I had seen other hosts employ. I had purchased snack things and drink things to set out for them. Late in the game, that is to say after the arrival of the guests, it occurred to me that I needed something on which to set out the snack things and drink things for them in a convenient place near the seating. I settled on the little chess table.
Which in turn presented the question of where to put the chess set temporarily. The top of the refrigerator seemed the only viable option. As I ever so slowly transported the chess set to the top of the refrigerator, one white rook fell off because I was nervous what with real, live guests there and all. With my own eyes—these eyes of mine—I saw that white rook topple off the board and down behind the refrigerator.
The white rook did not drop up. It did not drop by. It dropped down, which is the thing that we would most expect normally.
Since I have only romantic lighting in the loft, I kissed this off until tomorrow, which is now today, as tomorrows so often become, when I would have more light available in order to make my search for the white rook easier. As it turned out today, the search for the white rook was anything but easy. The search started with my randomly whacking around behind the refrigerator with a broom handle. The search proceeded on to more desperate measures, including moving the refrigerator out from the wall a bit and then ultimately moving it out into the middle of the kitchen. I could not find that white rook.
I was shaken. Religions have been founded on the basis of lesser mysteries than this mystery of the disappearing white rook.
I spent a good deal of time on my hands and knees, my cheek next to the floor poking around in the works in the base of the refrigerator. My hair was in my eyes driving me crazy. I put on the black stocking cap to solve that problem, The North Face®. My hands became filthy. I became filthy. Which indicates that some floor care is in order. Next week. Probably the subject of another blog entry then.
I started to come to terms with the probability of a permanently missing white rook. To make peace with the idea. Since white has the prerogative of always moving first, is there not some justice in forcing white always to begin a piece down? An innovation that had not occurred to the Arabs who had invented the game a thousand years ago? This missing piece was a rook, however. The additional penalty involved in requiring that white only be able to castle on one side seemed draconian. A different perspective was necessary if the best of a bad situation was to be found.
I had purchased that set because La Mexicana had expressed her life-long wish to learn how to play chess. The idea of my teaching someone to play chess seemed laughable at first. My games with legitimate chess players last about five minutes at most if I stall. Nevertheless, there were no other willing teachers available to her. Teaching La Mexicana to play chess was the only reason for the presence of this particular chess set in my loft. I realized today, slap up against this mystery as I was, that the quality of my chess lessons was not going to be compromised in the least by a missing piece . . . or two or three.
Then I saw that white rook wedged in between the cooling element and the body of the refrigerator about half way up. Had I not found that white rook, you would have been subjected to a blog entry on all this. Count yourselves lucky that I found it.

That is it in the foreground there.

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