I’m a pretty avid online chess player. When I signed on with an Internet playing group a few years ago, I had to come up with an online handle for my games. On the spur of the moment, I used a nickname for a college-era girlfriend who was in my thoughts, since she had just died a terribly untimely death from lung cancer. Most of the time, the gender of an online player isn’t an issue, but every once in a while I get an opponent who assumes he’s playing a woman. This produces some comments that are . . . interesting.

Usually they want to know my age and where I live, right off the bat. (I never thought of using a chess game as a pickup opportunity, but where there’s a Ruy Lopez there’s a way.) Just now I had a guy (I feel safe in assuming) who promised to make me cry with the whuppin’ he was about to deliver. When I put him in check with a move that also revealed an attack on his queen, he disconnected without another word. Not very masculine of him, wouldn’t you say?

I realize I’m far from the first to make this observation, but it must take an awful lot of patience to be a woman.


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