Chapter – 1

Namangan, Uzbekistan

Time: 5-30 PM

This was a huge hall. In the hall, though people were present, there’s an absolute silence. Hundreds of people filled the stands watching intently and scarcely breathing. Two television cameras were quietly doing their job. Quietly standing in the distant, there were some people taking photos with the help of lenses.

Polensky leaned over the table, watching intently. On the table, the white and black chess squares entwined together embodying the victories and defeats humans face in their lives.

The next one to make a move was Polensky. He scratched his beard deep in thought. His queen was trapped, surrounded by the enemies in all directions

In the center of the hall, in front of the chessboard, an electronic display showed the respective positions of the chess pieces. Using those indications, people in the crowd emulated the gameplay on chess boards of their own, making notes as they went. This was being done silently without disturbing anyone’s concentration.

Polensky moved his queen back next to his opponent’s king, and smiled at his opponent.

This was the finals of The Asian Championship Competition.

Russians were skillful in chess. With the understanding that playing chess improves one’s memory and creativity, they incorporated chess into curriculum as an academic subject. Except Bobby Fischer and a few others, there was no one capable of defeating the Russians in the World Championship. Polensky, in this respect, for the past ten years, had shined like an uncrowned king. This small competition, he didn’t place it in his sights.

The way he withdrew his queen safely, and put his opponent in check with his knight demonstrated Polansky’s intellectual prowess and skill. Suddenly, the pressure on the Indian player increased. Polansky looked mockingly at his opponent, wondering what he would do next. And more exaggeratedly, some women with woolen tunic over their top were laughing and squinting at him with their small eyes.

Scarcely breathing, the Indian Ambassador looked at his country’s player, awaiting his next move. He also held an interest in chess. He was the main guest of this competition. Although he had only come to hand over the prize to the final winners, he looked even more excited than the players themselves.

Outside it snowed heavily. Through the windows, it looked like small cotton balls falling down the sky.

Even in the harsh, cold weather, beads of sweat formed on Revanth’s forehead. Thoughts sped through his mind. As a player, he knew he was facing a do or die situation. From the day he started playing this game, all the moves he made, the books he read, and the notes he took, kept replaying in the back of his mind like a movie reel. Every so often he checked his watch.

Time was gradually running out.

According to the chess handbook, a player shouldn’t take too much time per move. The typical time limit was 60 min per 15 moves (Overall 40 moves in first 2½ hrs).

On the table between Revanth and Polensky, a chess clock was fixed on either side of the board. Once a person makes his move, he stops the clock on his side. Immediately the second clock starts to run by itself. The clock continues to run till the second person stops it. There were also people that had lost their game, forgetting to stop the clock after a move was made.

Sometimes, if 15 moves weren’t played before the clock reaches an hour mark, they would lose. There are many people that make wrong moves under this pressure and end up losing the game.

Revanth was exactly in this kind of situation.

Less than five minutes left to make his fourth move. How…. how?

The clock kept ticking down. People were ready to clap their hands. TV cameraman zoomed in closer to capture the losing Revanth’s facial expression.

Polensky leaned back in his chair and looked up at the trophy relaxed. This was akin to him saying, “you have been wrecked,” creating a psychological weakness in the opponent’s mind. Polensky still had 15 min left. There was no problem even if he played leisurely. But to Revanth, it wasn’t like this. Quickly, out of five minutes half a minute had already gone by.

Using his index finger, he pushed his bishop forward.

Polensky immediately brought his knight to the front.

Revanth moved his pawn. Onlookers could feel the intense desperation in him. There’s still two more minutes left.

Polensky once again calmly moved forward his piece and took the moved pawn.

As if he was waiting for this very moment, Revanth brought his rook from the corner, and placed it in the middle, saying checkmate. For a second, neither Polensky nor the onlookers couldn’t figure out what had happened. Everything happened in a matter of seconds. The entire hall became quiet and remained in stupefied silence. However, this continued for only a moment’s time before the crowd erupted into applause, and surged forward as if the gates had been just opened.

Polensky still hadn’t recovered from the shock. So, posing a desperate stance, flaring up his ego, and causing him to play the game nonchalantly, all this had been Revanth’s plan along. He lifted his head and looked in Revanth’s direction.

Revanth was already swarmed by people. He felt a bit suffocated. People were even pushing him and shoving their way to get his autograph. Reporters flooded him with questions. One after another, countless flashes sparkled. TV cameras kept roving around to take shots from every angle. Even the Indian ambassador lost his bearings and tried to lift Revanth off the ground as a fellow chess-player.

This was not just a small victory. Polensky was defeated! A world-renowned player that shined like an uncrowned king for the past 10 years.

Even the World champion Anatoly Karpov and Swedish grand master Alexander would have a hard time playing against him. Against such person, a 25-year-old youth scored an overwhelming victory in the last moment. This was absolutely impossible without years of diligent hard work. This was not just a game won by making a hasty move in the last moment by mere luck. Polensky knew that his generation had come to an end with the new generation replacing his position.

One girl was taking Revanth’s autograph on her hand. A 12 years kid was looking at him awesomely. And an elderly person was warmly patting his shoulder.

Along with the crowd around him, Revanth came out from that hall. The news was spread quickly through Live TV. Countless people were already swarming there. In chess no one was as enthusiastic as Russians.

Getting surrounded by all those people, beads of sweat formed on Revanth’s face. When he reached for his kerchief, there was nothing in his pocket. It might have fallen off when he was playing.

Meanwhile, an announcement was heard, shifting the people’s attention. Squeezing through the crowd, Revanth made his way back to the hall. When he passed through the veranda and reached to the entrance, Revanth stood stupefied at the scene before him. The huge hall was devoid of people. The chessboard table in the middle of the hall was at the same position as before. But, in front of the table, Polensky had leaned down, covering his face with his hands. He sat there alone, grieving.

Revanth just stood there, with a deadpan expression.

A world renowned player’s downfall was being witnessed sympathetically by an another player that had just taken his position. He then remembered the “Steak” story written by Jack London. There was King that ruled the realm of boxing for 10 years. But shortly after that, his downfall began. When he was grieving, a youth similarly looked at him with sympathy.

Revanth turned around and quietly made his way outside. On his way, he thought

“Oh, Success! Success! – – -when you draw near, you’d take us to new heights, but when you leave, you’d kick us to hell. Is this justice in your eyes?”

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