I’m an introvert, the kind who’s spoken fewer words in her life than you’ll find in the average short story. As such, it can be challenging to keep in touch with my friends and family, who live nearly 3,000 miles away. Sure, there’s texts, emails, and messaging apps. We use those. There’s also chess.
Exactly one year ago—the timing was accidental when I began writing this post last weekend—I started playing chess with my big sister. She’d seen The Queen’s Gambit and wanted to play with me. It would be a good way to interact, seeing as we live on different coasts. We looked for an app, specifically one that featured crossplay between Android and iOS, and moved our first pawns.
Just over 100 games later, we’re still at it. Sometimes, we make several moves a day, or even play back and forth if we happen to be free. If we’re busy, an entire day might go by before the queen zips across the board. While I win many games these days, I remember a streak where my sister won 12 or maybe 15 games straight. Looking back through our game history, I can’t find it, but I know it happened. I was tearing my hair out. Was I trash? Would I ever be able to win again? It was like crawling through the query trenches, only with more shit-talking.
And that, our highly intellectual discourse, is really the point. The social aspect. It’s the glue that keeps people playing the same MMORPG with their guildmates for years. One day, our interest will wane. The delays between our moves will grow so long that we’ll give up playing, or maybe we’ll stop by common accord. We might move to another app, another game. As long as it has its own messaging function, we’ll be able to keep talking trash and touch base with each other. It’s the most important part.