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Chapter 8: No Draws

Victor smirked as he slid his bishop across the board.  It reached its destination and he swapped it for the piece that occupied the space.  Raising it triumphantly, he held the white queen in the air between him and Shane.  "That was a mistake, Donovan.  You obviously haven't been practicing."

Shane said nothing, even though they both knew Victor now had the advantage.  Shane had opened the game aggressively, but Victor had countered.  Time had whittled away the pieces and now, with the loss of his queen, Shane was down to a few pawns, a bishop, a knight and a rook.  Victor still had his queen.  Seemingly nonplused by the disadvantage, Shane studied the board.

"You could ask for a draw," Victor taunted.

"No draws."  Shane moved his knight backwards to keep it out of line of Victor's queen.

Victor pressed his advantage.  On successive moves, he brought his queen and bishop forward, then smiled again.   "Check."

Shane paused and studied the board.  Victor's bishop was on line with the white king.  If the king moved forward, the black queen would be able to cut across the board and, with the placement of the black bishop and a black knight, it would be mate. 

"You seem quite calm for a man who is about to die," Victor said.

"One should never let thoughts of imminent death interfere with a good game."  Shane slid the white king to the left, temporarily out of harm's way.

"Ah, the quick wit of one Shane Donovan."  Victor moved the knight to a new position.  "The world will mourn its loss."

Shane sat back in his chair, taking a momentary break from the game.  "Tell me something."  His body language was relaxed, almost haughty, completely at odds with his ragged appearance.

"Go ahead."

"How did you convince Vasquez to keep me here?  Wherever 'here' is?  With his need for money, he could have found plenty of people who would have paid quite a lot for a chance to get what I know."

Victor ignored Shane's obvious attempt to get information about his location, but thought there was no harm answering the rest.  "True, if one knows your true position.  Juan, however, has no idea who you really are.  He just thinks you're just a regular field agent.  Maybe ISA.  Maybe MI5.  Maybe CIA.  Your getting caught so easily hardly indicated someone of your supposed talents."

"You don't get it, Victor," said Shane.

"What don't I get?"

"You seem to think that you tricked me, that I had no idea I was walking into a trap.  That completely misses the proverbial mark."

Victor smirked.  "That sounds like wounded pride talking."

"Nothing of the sort," Shane corrected.  "There's a difference between walking into a trap not knowing it's a trap and walking into a trap knowing it might be a trap, but also knowing that the risk has to be taken because there's still a job to do."  He fiddled with one of the chess pieces he had taken.  "Sometimes, the job comes before self-preservation."

"And after a year in here, you still think that?  That's quite a noble sentiment.  Foolhardy, but noble."  Victor motioned to the board.  "Your move."

Shane moved one of his pawns.

"An interesting gambit, if I might say so."

"You might." Shane tried to sound bored as Victor moved his bishop again.  Shane responded by sliding his last rook to threaten the bishop.  "So why haven't you had me shot yet?  The guards here seem quite willing to volunteer for the firing squad."

"I told you, Donovan.  I wanted you to experience being behind bars for a long time, just like you threatened me with.  Now it's your turn to tell me something."  Victor spoke as he examined the position of the pieces.  "I've heard solitary confinement drives most men insane.  You, on the other hand, seem perfectly sane to me, so tell me your secret."  He pulled the bishop back and away from the rook.  "How did you keep your mind occupied?"

Shane chuckled as he examined the board, and then looked up with a satisfied grin.

"I played chess." 

At that instant, Victor realized his mistake.  When he pulled his bishop back, he had left his queen exposed.  Shane slid the rook across the board to its destination.  "Rook takes queen."

Shane held the plastic piece aloft and studied it momentarily, then turned his gaze back across the table.  "I know you too well, Kiriakis.  Every move you've made so far, I've countered a hundred times in my head."  He looked down at the board.  "Right now, you plan on moving your knight to D3, expecting me to counter by moving my king to C1 or C2."

Victor felt tiny beads of perspiration burst out on his forehead.  That was exactly what he had been thinking.  But maybe that was a trick.  Maybe Shane had figured out the obvious, best move and was trying to change Victor's strategy.  That had to be it.  Victor moved his knight.  "Check."

"King to E2," Shane said.  He placed the king directly in front of the knight, an unusual move.  Now Victor had to move the knight away or lose it.  He did, leaving Shane's king safe once again.

Shane moved a pawn on the G column.  Suddenly, Shane's strategy was clear.  Victor had to stop the pawn from reaching the end of the board and being swapped for the queen.  He quickly reviewed his pieces.  If he pulled his knight back, he could block the pawn from reaching the end.  He moved the knight.  Shane moved the pawn again.  Victor moved the knight once more, to E7.  Shane moved the pawn to within one space of the board's edge, but could go no further without losing the piece to Victor's knight.

But the move was not without problems for Victor.  His knight was now stuck.  He had to leave it in place to defend against the queen swap, so he could not use it to attack.  Now he was left to a few pawns, a bishop and a rook.  He decided to attack with the bishop.  Shane countered with his knight.  Victor pulled back, his bishop coming to rest on E4.  Shane slid his rook to E5.

Victor sighed.  He would lose the knight anyway.  He drew back the bishop, leaving Shane a clear path to take the knight.

"Rook to E7," Shane said, taking the knight from the table.  The rook was now diagonal to Victor's king, so he took the piece.  As he did, Shane's pawn moved forward and he replaced the tiny piece with the white queen.  "Funny how sometimes a pawn can win the game."

Victor knew he was defeated.  He could draw out the game for several more turns, but why bother.  He reached for his king and tipped it forward.  The sound of the plastic hitting the board seemed far louder than it should have.  He stood up and brushed himself off.  "Well played, Donovan.  You truly are a master of the game."

"We had a deal," Shane said, sharply.

"Yes, about that."  Victor shrugged.  "I'm sorry, but I can't let you go."  He headed toward the door.

"Victor."  Shane's voice carried the threat, but he struggled to stand up from the chair.

Victor turned in the doorway and looked back inside.  "Just so you do not think me a sore loser, I'll make sure you get something for your victory."  He looked over at the closest guard.  "Get this man cleaned up and make sure he doesn't look like this in the future.  And get him some more food.  I don't want him dying of starvation."  Then he turned back to Shane.  "Perhaps, we'll play again next year -- provided you live that long."

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Sep. 15th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
This scene is awesome! Thank you!
jwsel
Sep. 15th, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for commenting. I've been wondering if anyone out there is reading and am grateful to hear from readers.

I'm very glad you liked this scene. It's a personal favorite of mine and one I rewrote several times. I always loved to see Shane and Victor face off, and wanted this scene to have the tone of those early scenes.

(Anonymous)
May. 21st, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)
Reminds me of the old days -- when they first became adversaries and they would play, pool and chess. I always loved it when shane would win, especially the chess game during the pawn s/l. This scene is right up there with that one. Very well done!
jwsel
May. 21st, 2011 02:23 am (UTC)
Thanks. Those were exactly the scenes I envisioned when I was writing this.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )