Playing the French

Having never been to France during my 19 years alive, this Summer posed as a great opportunity to lose my authentic Pain aux Chocolat virginity. Having spent the first few days ‘chess-less’, the usual symptoms of sleepless nights and thoughts of playing an exchange french had kicked in – you can imagine my discomfort.

Pawn and King endgame where I was up two points

Whilst looking round the famous Luxembourg Gardens, it began to rain. Looking for shelter, I fully realised what Columbus felt like accidentally stumbling across America. Escaping the downpour, I joined a group of maybe 20-30 people sitting in a park playing chess! I assumed at the beginning that they were chess hustlers and that I was going to lose money just like I had the previous year in New York. To my surprise this was a group of locals who brought along there own sets to play each other. As a lone tourist with my girlfriend, I was a minority and managed to eventually get a game. Doing myself justice, I walked away a few hours later undefeated.

The most notable event in the games I played was when one of my opponents realised I had a mate in 4 and then proceeded to change the rules of the game and move the Knight in an incorrect way! I was so confused and originally thought I was being daft until I worked out what had happened and gesticulated to him that he had just broke the rules and that I had won.

Highly recommend any chess fan to go and visit this truly amazing place – is an incredible atmosphere and is heartwarming to see random people engaging in a mutual interest.

George Perkins