I had unconsciously crept up on the board as I focused on the duel over the demon’s King. I sat back from it now, closing my eyes briefly as I struggled to shake off that sense of self-imposed tunnel-vision.
A couple of deep breaths to calm my fraying nerves, and I opened my eyes again.
“Are you prepared to concede?” the demon hissed.
“Not even remotely,” I replied.
I stood up, took another pace backward. I wanted to see the board, the whole board, in its entirety. I let my eyes focus on a point beyond it, looking through the board rather than directly at it, centering on no one particular formation.
It was clear to me that my original strategy was trashed. I might be able to salvage it, but I was going to have to look at other options. In short, I was going to have to improvise.
I stared at the board for a long time, plotting moves, calculating probabilities, planning half a dozen moves ahead for the most likely options. And finally, I reached my hand out, took hold of a piece — and pushed a pawn.