Trash Talk This

4 09 2009

The web, uh, comic? Strip? Project? Thingy? A Softer World asked, “what kind of person talks trash during a chess game?”

(Click here for the strip and answer.)

Well, the correct answer is, “me and the other bozos that worked at Panasonic in the mid 1990s.”

When all of the local warehouses were lumped into one big one, one marked change was the arrival of chess boards in the break room. We had set break and lunch times that had to be observed every day. No matter how busy you were, you had to take break, or go to lunch, period. Forced to adhere to this schedule, the gang took up chess and usually banged out 3 games in 15 minutes, as nobody was the next Bobby Fisher.

Now: Being a blue collar setting, one might peer down one’s nose and think chess to be a bit highbrow for the six-pack and TV crowd. Ya’d think, but Peer Pressure, boredom, interest, and good old male competitiveness kept the tables full. I can attest that no matter how green, how awful, or how disinterested one might have been in chess, by 2nd break trash talk was flying faster than pieces could be captured.

My all-time favorite warehouse chess moment came when a particularly obnoxious temp named “Tex” (really) claimed to be a Super Chess Genius, could checkmate anyone inside of 8 moves, and had to turn down a life of pro chess because forklifts don’t drive themselves.

I challenged him to a game, and he kept on with the patter as I made my first move. He went on and on about his skills as he made his opening move. He foretold of impending checkmate as I made my second move. He made his counter. I made my next. He made his. I slid my Queen up the board, taking a pawn.


He fell backward in his chair, catching himself before actually hitting the floor. “THAT was genius! You must be some kind of Grand Master! [Blah blah blah!]”

Everyone who crowded around relished this moment, as even the worst player knew “checkmate in four” when they saw it. Except Tex. The expert chess genius.

Around the time of these chess shenanigans, Shaq had a Pepsi commercial that ran like so:

There was also a line of athletic shoes called British Knights. This is Important Information. Keep reading.

One day, when the air was thick with trash talk, I commented that the guys were so competitive that someone ought to make athletic shoes for chess. Rene from Guatemala used to chime with with a whinneying noise (“nyee-hahahahaaaaa”) whenever someone used the Knight to capture a piece.

I envisioned a TV commercial where people are playing chess in the park. A shadow darkens the board, then a hand reaches down and forcibly checkmates one of the players. They gasp, and say “Bobby FISHER!” Pan down, and he is wearing shoes with a stylized knight emblem…

British Nyeeehahahahas.

Shoulda happened.




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