Chapter 6: A Friendly Competition
Back at the Western Pack, Viggo and Robert were enjoying some much needed and exceedingly rare free time. However, it wasn’t entirely for fun as Viggo felt the need to enhance Robert’s sense of strategy since his previous plan had failed so spectacularly. The day was young, and the temperature was perfect for relaxing outside.
Viggo leaned back in his lawn chair, the strands of fur on his wolf pelt vest slightly blowing in the wind, his grey hair doing the same. The two friends then began their game of chess, which had taken some convincing to get Robert to agree to play. It was Viggo’s favorite. It required a player to use all of their thinking and planning to win. He had played ever since he was a boy and had become very skilled at it. However, he liked to play a little differently; a little more realistically. No checks were allowed in Viggo’s version. He always disliked the idea of warning your opponent when they were about to be defeated and enjoyed eliminating the concept of check and its rules altogether. It made it more difficult and realistic, forcing a player to pay more careful attention to not only his opponent’s side, but to his own as well.
The game went on for all of thirty minutes, with Viggo losing many pieces and Robert suffering almost no losses of his own. Viggo had gone fairly easy on Robert, otherwise it would’ve been over long ago. However, he wanted to use this to teach Robert a lesson. By the end of it, Viggo was left with only one pawn, one knight, and his king, while Robert had managed to keep almost all of his pieces, save for his rooks, a couple pawns and a knight. It was now Robert’s turn and Viggo was stroking his short, grey beard and waiting for him to make his move.
“Come on, Robert, think,” he said. “I know there’s a brain under all those scars.”
“I am thinking,” Robert replied, before capturing Viggo’s pawn and putting his King in check but abiding by Viggo’s version of the game and not mentioning it.
“There,” he said, “what do you think of that?”
Viggo’s masterful poker face remained unchanged, allowing Robert to guess absolutely nothing about what his opponent was thinking.
“Interesting move,” Viggo replied. “It seems you’ve forced me to relocate my king.”
Of course, that wasn’t true as the laws of check didn’t apply here, but Viggo had always enjoyed toying with the minds of his enemies. He had read The Art of War more times than he could count, spent hours poring over it, studying it, and knew exactly how to apply it and sometimes did the complete opposite of what it advised.
“Now, how many pieces does a player have in chess?” Viggo asked, putting his fingers together and beginning his next mind game, although it wasn’t completely necessary.
“Sixteen,” Robert answered.
“And you’ve captured fourteen of mine, leaving only a knight and my King?” Viggo continued.
“Yes, I have,” Robert gloated. “Give up yet?”
“Well, I would,” Viggo said, smiling, “had you not failed to realize that my one lone knight has your King trapped inside your other pieces.”
Robert looked from Viggo to his King in shock and found that he was right. Robert’s King was surrounded by several of his pieces which he had moved to protect it. However, Viggo’s knight was in the perfect position to jump this wall of pieces and take the King. Viggo moved his knight and took Robert’s king, grinning victoriously.
Robert looked at Viggo resentfully, gazing at the claw mark that stretched across his face. Viggo then stood up from the table and began speaking.
“The Art of War. An incredible and brilliant source of military knowledge and strategy. However, even the best pieces of advice work better when you ignore them altogether. ‘Fight the enemy where they aren’t.’ It may seem confusing to simple minds, but it makes perfect sense. Attacking your opponent where they least expect it, where they are least defended, more exposed. And yet attacking your most fortified position won me the game. You see, Robert, a player must be willing to sacrifice every one of his pieces to achieve victory. Every last one. Pieces, as with people, are expendable. No one is irreplaceable.”