WEEVIL'S SECOND CHESS GAME
"Checkmate," said Weevil triumphantly, smiling across the chess
board at his unhappy opponent.
"I must admit," said the snake, "that you have won, but now that
you have shown me all the moves of the various pieces, let us try
Weevil was sitting on the ground under his favourite tree, which
had once talked to him, but was now silent, and the snake, a quiet,
beautiful, smooth, eastern, green grass snake, who usually kept to the
ground, was coiled delicately and looking at the chess board.
By the end of their first game the snake
had begun to reach forward and move the chess men with his
mouth, or push them with his nose.
"Yes, let's try another game," said Weevil, setting out the chess
"I believe I could do better now," said the snake. "It's my turn
to be white."
"How did you know that?" asked Weevil.
"It stands to reason," said the snake, "you played white last time.
Please turn the board around."
Weevil did so, and the snake quickly moved the King's pawn
forward two spaces.
"How did you know that move?" said Weevil. "I always put the
Queen's pawn forward first, that is, when I have been practising
with my father."
"You will find that most people play King's pawn first move," the
Weevil moved his King's pawn forward two spaces.
"What you have been playing is the Queen's Gambit," said the
snake, speaking through his teeth with a chess piece in his mouth.
"G1 F3," he added.
"What is that?" asked Weevil.
"Well," said the snake, "if you look carefully around the edges of
the board you will see letters along the top and bottom, and
figures down the sides."
"So I see," said Weevil. "Why," he added incredulously, "you
know all about the game, and were just fooling me in our last
game." He moved his Queen's pawn forward one space to protect
his King's pawn.
"D2 D4," murmured the snake, moving another pawn. "Yes,
something like that," he said. "Chess is a very old game, and some
say it was brought here by the Immortals whom the ancient
Greeks worshipped, thousands of years ago."
"C8 G4," said Weevil, moving his bishop to threaten the snake's
knight. "Are you saying," he continued, "that these immortals you
mentioned came here from somewhere else?"
"That is something," said the snake, "that mankind have to find
out for themselves. D4 E5," and the snake removed Weevil's
King's pawn from the board.
"Very well, then," said Weevil, and took the snake's knight with
his bishop. "G4 F3." he said. "And how are people supposed to do
that?" asked Weevil.
"There are plenty of clues around," replied the snake. "D1 F3," he
added, as he took Weevil's bishop with his Queen.
"Clues either not yet recognized, or waiting to be found," said
Weevil, and took the snake's pawn with his pawn. "D6 E5," he
"Now if people would stop rushing around so quickly or spending
so much time watching a few others performing for them they
might have time to think a little, and then they would understand
a lot more. F1 C4," and the snake moved his King's bishop
"They even have computers now to play chess," said Weevil. "G8
F6," and he brought his King's knight forward, as he knew this
was a proper move to make.
"Really?" said the snake absentmindedly. "F3 B3," and moved his
queen across to join his bishop.
Weevil picked up a piece and hesitated with it in his hand.
"How about moving the Queen to protect the King, or you could
move your other knight," the snake suggested.
"I'll move the Queen," announced Weevil. "D8 E7. You're as bad
as a computer," said Weevil, "you know all the moves."
"Not really," said the snake. "That is not possible. B1 C3," and he
brought out the Queen's knight to join the Queen and bishop.
The board looked very empty on Weevil's right, and he moved a
pawn forward, being careful to cover it with another pawn and his
knight. "C7 C6," he said.
"Who gave you the chess set?" asked the snake. "C1 G5." And he
moved his bishop next to Weevil's knight, just as Weevil had done
"My father," said Weevil, advancing another pawn. "B7 B5." This
pawn threatened to take the snake's bishop.
"Well then," said the snake, "if we play a few moves together, in
a short while you will be able to surprise your father with what
you know. C3 B5." And the snake took Weevil's pawn off the
board with his mouth.
"It's you who should be surprised," said Weevil, "look, you have
given me your knight. C6 B5," and he took the knight with his
pawn, and threatened the snake's bishop, with the pawn.
"C4 B5," said the snake, and took Weevil's pawn with his bishop.
"Check," said the snake.
"How," asked Weevil, "can you possibly know how to play chess
when you haven't got a chess board? B8 D7," he added, rather
pleased with himself, for he had covered the King from check
without having to move it, by using his knight.
"E1 C1," said the snake, castling on the Queen's side, and moving
his rook over the King to the D squares, threatening Weevil's
knight. "That's very true," said the snake, "I do not have a chess
board. But it is not difficult at all, I carry all the moves in my
"How could that be?" said Weevil. "There are sixty-four squares
on the board and sixteen pieces on each side. That's a lot of
things to remember. A8 D8," and Weevil moved his rook across
next to his King.
"That's not very difficult." said the snake. "I only eat every week
or so and I have lots of time to think. D1 D7," and he took
Weevil's knight with his rook.
"That wasn't very wise," said Weevil, "a rook is worth more than
a knight, isn't it? D8 D7," and he proceeded to take the snake's
rook with his rook. "My father said that people in chess clubs use
clocks to time their moves."
"There they go again," said the snake. "Always in a rush. What
a way to play chess. H1 D1." And he moved his remaining rook
across to face Weevil's rook.
"E7 E6," said Weevil moving his Queen to confront the snake's
Queen, now that he was ahead on points in pieces taken.
But the snake was not interested in a Queen exchange. "B5 D7,"
he said, taking Weevil's rook with his bishop. "Check. Such
speed," he continued, "Anyone would think the world was going to
blow up next week."
"Is it going to blow up?" asked Weevil nervously. Then he saw a
good move. "F6 D7, knight takes bishop," he said.
"I tell you," said the snake, pursuing his own line of thought, "it's
positively frightening being a reptile or an animal and seeing the
things that men are doing these days. Why, it's not even safe to
cross a road anymore. At least, not at the speed I care to
travel," added the snake. "B3 B8, check," and he moved his
Queen to the far end of the board.
"What will be the end of it all," asked Weevil, pondering the
problems of the world and his next move, all at the same time.
"D7 B8," he called triumphantly, taking the snake's Queen with
"I think," said the snake, paying strict attention to the business
at hand, "the end is already upon us. D1 D8." And the snake
moved his rook from one end of the board to the other.
"Checkmate," he added, still looking at the board intently with his
keen eyes. Then he turned and looked directly at Weevil. "For
someone who is still learning, you played a wonderful game. I
consider you a worthy opponent."
Then, slowly, unhurriedly, he began quietly moving, gliding
effortlessly around a sumach branch and gently along
the ground. Once he reached the grass he became
invisible almost at once, and though at first Weevil could see
blades of grass wave back and forth as the snake glided among
them, in a few moments it became impossible to see where he
was. He had vanished completely. Weevil sat with his opponent's
Queen still in his hand, and now looked back at the chess board
with astonishment. But there was no doubt about the ending,
which had come so swiftly. The remaining pieces were still on the
board, and it was checkmate.