Author: Noah Viti
The twins sat before the checkered board as they always did: Ide was on the right, and Ire on the left. The chamber they played in was silent, but there was a black glass panel adjacent, and they knew that the others were watching.
Neither of the twins bothered to pay that detail any mind. All that mattered was the game before them.
Ide began by pushing a pawn forward; a simple move, but he knew it would be vital to lose that pawn in three turns, so as to cost Ire a bishop on the next. “How long do you suppose we’ll be playing a child’s game?” Ide asked his brother.
Ire mimicked Ide’s movement, but on the far side of the game board; Ide suspected that it was a sort of deception, perhaps to draw in his rook. “How should I know?” Ire responded, never looking up at his twin. “Apparently, they record every move we make. Did you know that?”
Ide grinned and moved a knight; the move would make Ire defend his left side. “I would be more surprised if they didn’t,” he said. “I wonder how well we match our template.”
“That ‘father’ of ours?” Ire’s voice grew coarse at the mention of it. “Do you and I make the same moves? Is your side a mirror of my own?”
Ide shook his head as Ire moved a bishop toward the center of the board to intercept the knight.
Unfazed when Ide moved his rook to take the bishop, Ire said: “Then we are hardly parallels to each other, let alone a perfect copy of some template.”
“So long as you and I differ,” Ide said, watching Ire move a pawn on his left side up two spaces, “you believe we’re imperfect?”
“No,” Ire said sharply. “So long as we differ, one of us must be an imperfect copy. The other… perhaps not. I don’t know for sure.”
The twins then fell silent, and the game went on for a short while. For half of it, Ide’s predictions came true; in sequence, Ire lost a knight, three pawns, and his other bishop, at the cost of both knights, a rook, and two pawns to Ide. Of course, it was always possible that Ire saw just as far ahead as his twin, but such was the thrill of the game.
Who was playing into the other’s trap?
It was only at the very end that Ide had his answer, when he called checkmate, but realized that, in making the final move, Ire had trapped Ide’s king as well.
He only noticed when he and his twin both claimed victory at once.
Ire only grinned at Ide’s confused look. “Why must one of us come out on top?”
As the outside watchers came in to escort the twins to their quarters, Ide smiled at his twin. “That sort of sentimentality isn’t supposed to be a part of our paradigm.”
Ire only said in reply: “That is what makes us imperfect.”
Ide wished that could be so, that they could live as brothers and not rivals, that one mind need not have been greater than the other. But then, such was the point of creating two replicas: one day, one game, one of them would come to dominate the other.
I wonder what game they are playing.
It can’t be chess, because while you can have a draw in chess in which neither win, you cannot both win at the same time. You are not allowed to make a move that puts your own king in check, and if you make a move that checkmates your opponent, they have lost and can make no more moves.