The time had come. He prepared for this moment his entire life. 15 years of practice, countless wins, and even more failures, studying the professionals, practically implementing every new and valuable piece of knowledge he could possibly find.
Sweat was dripping off both of their faces. The tension was absolutely intense. The crowd was completely silent. Everything was on the line. The announcer spoke in a hushed voice as everyone wondered if he would make the right move.
He had two options, one that would win him the game and one that could possibly put him in jeopardy. But instead of thinking about his next move, he reflected on his past, who his opponent was, and who he was to him.
He remembered them playing in the backyard together when they were younger. 8, he thought, we must have been 8 or 9, running around and playing tag with our friends. One of their friends, Bobby, would always cry out in a fake screech of pain when he got touched because he thought it was funny! Everyone else did too until his mother came out and asked him what was wrong. He smiled at the thought.
When they were tired they would go inside, and food would always be ready for them no matter what time of the day it was. They would eat, laugh, watch TV, annoy their parents… But it was in their later years that they would really become good friends.
They began struggling with school at 12 or so. They were smart kids, but their kind of intelligence was different than most - they were strategic, they could think 15, 20 steps ahead, and they could out-pace anyone they wanted to. But math and algebra? That definitely wasn't their strong suit. Since their parents were often busy, they'd combine their notes from their black notebooks and do their homework together, and this is what helped them pass their classes.
When they turned 15 both of their fathers were killed in the army, almost on the exact same day. It was almost as if it was planned. They spent the next few years supporting each other through their losses and figuring out how they could help their mothers as well. They couldn't get jobs themselves, but they made sure to help their mothers as much as they could since neither of them ever remarried and became employed full-time.
They were on and off drugs between 16-18, mainly because their grief was so great, and because they won an unexpected inheritance of $20,000 with nothing else to spend it on. They consumed them together and got off of them together, although it took a lot of hard work from both ends to do so.
When they graduated they got different jobs in different states, and that was the end of that… Or so they thought. As it turned out they developed similar interests while they were working, interests that would bring them together again, interests that made them rivals as well as friends. They would compete, eventually quit their jobs, desire to defeat the other so much that they became extremely angry if they were outplayed.
They fought long and hard, each outwitting the other and taking home the trophy on separate occasions. Their knowledge and skill were unmatchable, and if anyone saw either of their names in the tournament bracket, they knew they didn't have a minute chance at the gold medal. If both of them entered, they would find themselves facing each other in the grand finals every single time.
Every major news outlet covered them on multiple occasions, asking different but important questions each and every time. They had each amassed a gigantic community, however, both communities were relatively respectful of each other. Both of these men were making millions of dollars every year, sometimes every month, and it was because they truly were the best of the best to ever play.
On top of all this, tonight was special. It was the largest international tournament anyone had ever seen with 200,000 contestants spanning over the course of 5 years. The grand prize was $50,000,000. And tonight was the last night. The last game. And, potentially, the last move.
800,000 people were in the stands with many more watching the game live on television. There were many people who didn't even know how to play, but they knew this was a big deal, so they tuned in anyway. Millions of people were watching through the internet as well, waiting to see what would happen. Some of the experts already suspected what he should do, while most of the crowd sat and watched in anticipation.
His mind shifted back to the game. He began thinking furiously while his friend watched his every move. Every twitch, every tingle, every facial expression was seen by millions around the world as he thought about which move to make.
Suddenly, anxiety began to overtake him. The pressure was getting to him. The confidence he once felt was dissipating into thin air. He couldn't believe it - of all the times he needed confidence, now was the one. He chose to alleviate his own anxiety, and bring his confidence back, even though it was no easy feat.
He had decided what to do. This move was about to make or break history. This one move would either cement himself as a legendary champion forever or make him have to share the spotlight with his friend. This one move had everyone on the edge of their seat, watching, wanting to see the end of this amazing journey
He decided to calmly pick up his hand and move his rook to f4.
The entire crowd gasped. Many of the experts watching hung their heads since this wasn't the move they thought he should make. They thought that a clean slide to c2 would certainly secure his victory.
But his opponent did something that would change the very meaning of a 'historical event:' he looked at the board, analyzed it once more… And with a slow, calculated stroke, he knocked his king down onto the chessboard.
The entire crowd roared with a fiery cheer as the two men looked at each other and smiled. So many people were rushing down from the stands that the security guards couldn't stop them all! They hugged them, touched their shoulder, anything to be a part of this special moment. People at home yipped and cheered, and even the announcer was too stunned to say a single word. These two men and their rivalry had certainly been the entertainment for many, and their plays elevated them to legendary status.
The news title the next day was 'the move heard 'round the world' as everyone explained what had happened, and who had won. If someone wasn't tuned in to the game or the news the next day, they were either a child or living under a rock! An amazing end to an amazing rivalry, as both of them decided to split the money and retire not long afterward.
And what did these two men do the day after their last battle? Did they answer the reporter's questions, or accept any TV interviews? Did they make speeches? No, even better;
They went out and had a beer together. Because, at the end of the day, their friendship was simple, and they liked it that way.