Chess – The Game of Kings and Convicts

While you can’t see through the two opaque security windows in our cinder block wall study room, it does contain four chessboards that are much appreciated, thoroughly utilized, and more than make up for the lack luster surroundings. If you’re looking for a game, sit down at table and wait no more than two to three minutes. There is a constant stream of inmates meandering through looking for a game or conversation. Yield caution to who you play, as there appears to be a linear relationship between an inmates skill at chess and the number of years he’s been incarcerated.

Recently, all the chess boards were removed from the study hall. How this can happen is beyond me. Figuratively and literally. Most important, the literal aspect. I literally have no idea why it occurred as we’re rarely given a reason why anything at all happens. One inmate did, however, have his own chess board which he generous donates to the study room (aka the chess hall) on select evenings. It’s perfectly reasonable to enjoy chess in a room with several people studying and three other games being played simultaneously. Now take out all the chess boards except one and what will happen?

All those fiending to play chess start to watch whoever is currently playing. Then you recall that you’re in prison and everything is an opportunity for people to talk sh*t to each other. So you basically have, at minimum, three people on each side of the board assessing every move, debating with one another, talking far louder than necessary and incessantly badgering the players. These are undoubtedly the most challenging of chess games as the circumstances that may result in the making of an unforced error have increased exponentially. That being said, each opponent is dealing with the same challenges and of course, both Stoic philosophers as well as rational self analysis would have nothing of complaining, so here we are.

Further studies are necessary as we have to more closely examine the linear relationship between an inmates skill at chess and the length of his sentence. Initial results are coming back that the phenomenon is trending more towards causation than mere correlation. This is not surprising to the authors of this fictitious and non-existent study. The causatory aspect of the skill increase does pencil out as the longer you’ve been in the Feds the more time you’ve had to compete against a larger pool of inmates who have varied techniques in terms of both skill and ability to concentrate in the midst of chaotic environments.

It’s a scene. Everything here is. It’s also the trade off for being able to find someone to play chess with any time between 7:00 am and midnight. A worthy tradeoff in that the alternative would not be good. The choice of no chess is certainly undesirable for a king or a convict.

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