“You will not persuade me with appeals to my intellectual vanity.”
— Hannibal Lecter
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY –– I must have picked the wrong guy when I pointed to a tattooed middle-aged hustler in Manhattan’s Union Square for my opponent recently in a “bullet chess” or blitz chess match.
The guy was a look-alike of Anthony Hopkins when he played Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a character in a series of suspense novels by Thomas Harris and introduced in a 1981 thriller novel Red Dragon as a forensic psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer.
“Dr. Hannibal Lecter” or DHL was only one of the four Union Square mainstays who challenged me for a chess match “for five bucks.”
I would be a hypocrite to deny I chose DHL over the three others after thinking he was a pushover or easy to beat.
Jiggz, who invited me earlier to invade Union Square with a promise to pay my round-trip ticket in the subway from Queens, made everyone’s head turn when she stoutly dangled a $20 bill and ribbed DHL: “Twinti bakzs!”
Without hesitation, “Dr. Hannibal Lecter” quickly retorted: “olrayt!”
I chided Jiggz reminding her the hustlers were only chanting “fayb bakzs”. She insisted for “twinti bakzs”, her voice was irritating and intimidating.
When DHL and I were about to begin the hypnotic three-minute Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation blitz, the crowd intensified, cajoled by Jiggz’s wager braggadocio.
Handling the white pieces, I marshaled 1. e4; DHL replied with e5; 2. Nf3-Nc6; 3. Bb5 a6; 4. Bxc6 and so on and so forth.
If the match didn’t get as far as the middlegame, I wouldn’t notice I was heading for the catastrophe.
DHL, who didn’t nix pieces exchanges before five moves, parried my attacks with a masterful display of grit and proficiency as the partisan crowd egged and cheered him.
Several moves later, DHL’s deadly knight and bishop ripped apart my weakened pawn structure; security in the king side had been badly shattered.
As defeat became imminent, I raised the white flag and shook DHL’s hand.
Instead of planting his teeth hard on my neck as what Anthony Hopkins did to his victims in the “Silence of the Lambs”, Union Square’s DHL gave me a wink and collected Jiggz’s “twinti bakzs”.
DHL and his fellow chess hustlers had moved from the Washington Square Park–Bobby Fischer’s former territory–to the Union Square in 2013.
Jiggz coaxed DHL to play “wan mor game”. DHL said “yes”, I called it a day while the three other hustlers, DHL’s cheering squad, were waving and pleading for me to also play against them “but only for fayb bakzs.”
I said “no mas.”
Twinti bakzs were enough. Twinti fayb bakzs will be too much.