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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chess mystery: Can you solve this?

Hello Everyone,

Nothing like a chess mystery to solve. Here is one we found written by Moe Zilla.
It is a long story that you will enjoy reading. For the answers though you would need to go to this website that offers five-minute mystery tales.

We're working on the mystery. Let us know how you do in your chess detective quest.

"The Chess Mystery"

It was almost magic. All the chess pieces looked like little people. My father had owned this set for over 20 years. All our lives, my father had fascinated my siblings and me as he moved the special pieces around the board. In a cabin in the woods, he stored the chess set safely for our family vacation each summer. Every year he'd play one game of chess against our uncle. And each year, the game always ended with Uncle Larry saying the same word.


But this year would be surprisingly different, since there would be an interrupted game of chess -- and a mystery.

After years of watching, my older brother Greg had decided to learn how to play chess. He'd carefully learned to move the pieces and then read several books about the winning strategies for chess. My sister and I didn't even know the names of the pieces, but Greg had practiced continuously against his friends until he was the best player in his school. This year when Uncle Larry arrived for the chess match, we'd finally see if he could beat a new challenger.

"I hope Uncle Larry wins," said my younger sister Tina. "I like Uncle Larry!"
Tina wasn't always a little angel -- but my father admitted that he was thinking about Uncle Larry, too. "He's always been proud of his chess-playing abilities -- though lately, I wonder if he's as sharp as he used to be. Sometimes he forgets things or repeats the same stories, and when he sends us a letter, the handwriting is really wobbly. It's okay if you beat him, but if you do -- remember to be a good sport!"
But this afternoon, Greg seemed fearless. "I always win!" he shouted boastfully.

"Uncle Larry will just have to get used to losing!"

And as if on cue, we heard Uncle Larry pulling up in his car. The cabin was eight miles from the nearest town, so it was lucky we still had our father's chess set. Uncle Larry still remembered how to drive to the cabin, and he was happy to see us waiting for him. Greg wanted to start the game of chess as soon Larry arrived, but my mother and father had prepared a special dinner for the family. "Why don't you play the game of chess tomorrow night?" my father suggested.

And that's how the mystery began.

We'd talked and laughed after dinner, and Greg even set up the chess board in the living room, in anticipation of the big game that would happen the next day. My father carried in a big stack of logs to build a cozy fire, even though he had a back injury and wasn't supposed to lift anything more than 50 pounds. Getting ready for bed that night, I looked to see if my brother was worried. I tossed my sock at him, and said "Do you really think you can beat Uncle Larry?"

He laughed as he pulled a pebble out of his shoe, and then threw it playfully across the room at me. "You'll see!" he said defensively. "You just wait until tomorrow."

"I hope he beats you," Tina teased.

"You'll all see," Greg said confidently.

But the next morning -- all the chess pieces were gone.

We couldn't play chess without the chess pieces, and we were too far away from the nearest town to get another set. To make things even more frustrating, the thief had left behind a taunting note! In neatly printed letters it said, "No chess game tonight" and instead of the word "night," the note had teasingly included a drawing of a knight -- the chess piece that looks like a horse.

We thought Uncle Larry had hidden the pieces as a joke -- but we couldn't be sure, and Uncle Larry said playfully that he was "pretty sure" that he hadn't. Greg was furious. "I waited all year for this game!" Greg wailed melodramatically -- and he stormed outside to sulk in the woods. Our whole family felt bad, and the fun game of chess had turned into a real problem.

"I'm going to try to solve this mystery!" I confided to my sister Tina.

"Maybe dad's playing a joke on us," she suggested. "Maybe he didn't want to see Greg finally beat Uncle Larry after all of these years."

"Or maybe Uncle Larry hid them himself," I suggested. "Though I hope that's not true." We began walking around the cabin, looking for clues. There was no sign of the missing chess set. And then Tina suggested that we look in the woods.

There was nothing but trees and the sound of birds chirping. Then suddenly, Tina grabbed my arm and pointed towards the ground by a tree. "Look!" she said.
I didn't see anything at first -- just the hiking trail, some shrubby bushes, and the tree roots. But then I noticed something white and shiny. It was a chess piece -- a white knight! And it was lying on its side in a pile of pine needles.

"That's ONE piece," Tina said optimistically. "Now we just need to find the rest." We searched for clues around the tree but found disappointingly few. The hiking trail was too firm to pick up footprints, and the dirt around the tree was filled with little rocks. I studied the bark of the tree, while Tina ran up ahead on the trail. But I noticed something up in the tree that didn't look right. It wasn't wood -- it was a black plastic garbage bag. It was at least 20 feet above the trail, wedged against the tree's trunk where it was joined by a thick branch. There was a hole in the bottom where another white chess piece was poking through.

As we stared curiously, a strange thing happened. The white king fell to the trail. Then as a breeze blew threw the braches, the bag came tumbling down. It spilled a pile of chess pieces across the trail, a messy jumble of curvy little pawns and mysterious bishops.

"The chess pieces!" Tina squealed.

We scooped up all the pieces, and ran back into the house. My father laughed and said "Nice work!" and Uncle Larry asked, "Where were they?” Greg was still sulking mood, and seemed disappointed that he hadn't found the pieces himself. Tina glowed with pride, so happy that she'd saved the day. For a minute I wondered if she'd hidden the pieces herself -- just so she could be the one to find them!

As the laughter died down, there was a strange silence over our family.

"Shall we set up the chess game?" my father finally asked. "After all this excitement, it'll be the best game ever."

"Maybe we shouldn't," I said with concern. "There's obviously someone in this family who wants to stop this game from being played -- and they want that badly enough to steal all of our chess pieces."

"Maybe this can be the game that never was," my mother suggested gently.

My parents weren't sure what to do. To help them out, I decided to make a dramatic announcement.

I said "I know who stole the chess pieces."

From Alexandra Kosteniuk's
Also see her personal blog at


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