To Live

It was tricky and took a lot of planning but he was sure he could pull the attack off.  All his years of training had brought him to this moment – it was live or die.  However, his partner was also a pro.  She had trained just as hard, just as long.  He strongly suspected she would see the attack coming and neatly sidestep.  But he might be able to distract her if he played a little from the left, she was looking for a frontal attack so might be blind to something coming from the sides.  If it worked, her back would be open for his attack and he would live.  He might even win.

He met her eye across the playing field and gave a confident smile.  Hers was condescending.  He almost lost it and attacked but that would have lead to death for sure.  Patience, calm and controlled always won over rash and angered.  But he seethed inside, determined now to not only live but win as well.  He would show her, humiliate her, put her in her place.  Yes, he thought as her eyes left his, this is your defeat.

And he did live but he did not win.  His territory had two eyes but his territory was too small.  She controlled more of the Go board than he did and as the post game discussion flowed around him, he realised she let him live.  She had not only controlled the game but had controlled him as well.  He bowed his head and though, next year, next year the title will be mine.


6 thoughts on “To Live”

  1. Lovely story. I love the way it seems so important to him from the inside (as games do when one is competing) – love the vocabulary cross over with live and win; it worked well.

    I also like how he loses; unusual ending for a piece like this but it works for me. For me his reaction to losing (realising his mistakes, determined to do better, admitting her superiority) balances his aggression while playing (humiliate her etc) in a cool way.

  2. Nice! I thought something odd was up when Our Hero was attacking his partner, but I did not expect Go 😛 Really great interpretation of “eye”.

    The piece left me wondering if she’d been playing him, trying to make him overreact (like with the condescending smile). I like to think that she was, since as the piece says, rash and angered playing doesn’t win the game.

    Some nits:

    > lead to death for sure.
    I thought that “for sure” sounded a bit informal compared to the rest of the piece.

    > He bowed his head and [thought],

  3. This was great. Like Rudy, I realised it was some sort of contest or game, but did not think of Go. I really like the way you lead the reader into thinking this is a more serious (life-threatening) combat without making it seem odd for something that is just a board game, when this information comes out. I guess it helps that the game means so much to the player :-)

    Lovely description of psychological play by both players. Thanks.

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