JB Jurve | Notes on Looking

She didn’t even want to play, really she didn’t. (That’s why she made the boy cry.)

  I was totally set up for failure.  Not only had every man who had already gone up against this chess player earlier in the evening faced miserable defeat, but I was told this young man, a Computer Science Engineering Masters student at UCLA, was literally unbeatable.  I didn’t even want to play, really I didn’t.  Yet somehow, last Thursday night, Daniel Lara’s chess set seemed more appealing than a game of corn hole (woodwork and hand-knit beanbags courtesy of David Bell…or was it Anthony Bodlovic?). I was still feeling a bit on edge from the performances that happened earlier in the evening at JB Jurve (some of which never seemed to end but rather continue ambiguously in an uncomfortable in-between of performance and reality).   Trying to recover from the image of Noah Spindler in pink flared pants and a baby-blue rhinestone hoodie, blasting top-40 songs over a shitty PA system bought specifically for the occasion, a rigged chili-cook-off, and the stress of watching “Chad” deliver a “press conference” after running 30 miles in an overly-ambitious initiative to charm all the gallery owners on the East Side in a mere afternoon, I somehow found myself agreeing to give chess with this young man a try. The game did not begin well.  He had already taken one of my bishops and my knights, and all I had was one of his pawns.  As we played, Chess Master X’s friends circled me drunkenly, offering prophecies of failure disguised as words of encouragement (“don’t worry, he beats everyone,” or, “dude, he kicked my ass much faster than he’s kicking yours!”)  One or...