Pressing. Hard. Palpable. I could almost laugh if the situation wasn’t so serious.
They gathered around the board in anticipation, judging the chess pieces with the eye of a god. Other players were situated around the board like them, but none were as serious as this one.
I shifted awkwardly in my place as the crowd around me continue to press. Nobody spoke a word, but I could hear the judgements being made. There were no chairs, so everyone was packed together around the table, and I was squished in between two collared guys with slicked hair and glasses.
“To scared to make the move, Truman?” My friend’s opponent asked. My friend, Truman, grinned.
“Well, not exactly. It’s a finicky situation, but I think,” Truman grabbed a chess piece, “I just got checkmate.”
The crowd beside me erupted, trying to decipher what happened. Their fervor and excitement left me astounded, and for the first time since freshman year, Truman’s chess hobby didn’t seem lame.
Truman got up from his chair, leaving his opponent, a squally kid in a pressed sweater gaping at the board. He pushed aside the crowd’s clamor and led me away from the competition room.
We went outside, the chess hall national competition sign hanging in front of the doorway, and we stood beside it. Truman pressed up his glasses and straightened up a bit. There he was; the old Truman I knew. It was weird now though. I stared at him for a bit, before shaking myself out of my stupor.
“Bro,” I started off slow, “that was real.”
Truman laughed uneasily and rubbed his neck.
“Yeah, it gets a bit serious, sometimes.”
“Sometimes? I felt like I was going be killed by the tension in there! And when you were like ‘guess who got checkmate’ you were like,” I waved my hands around, “a different person!”
Truman jumped for a bit before laughing.
“Yep, chess is just what I like.”
“You should be more confident like that at school. Then, maybe you wouldn’t get picked on so much.”
“Maybe. I’ve been thinking about starting a chess club, too.”
“Totally! And open it up to beginners too! I’ll join.”