I was sweating bullets. My opponent grinned. To be fair, there was little he could do about that. It was disconcerting nevertheless.
He withdrew his skeletal hand from his lone rook. He raised his eyes (if the soft blue points of light within the otherwise empty sockets could be called eyes) from the board to look me in the face. I dropped my eyes to the game.
I studied the board. It wasn’t looking good. I turned every possibility over in my mind several times on the conviction that there must be a subtle opportunity I was missing.
NO RUSH. TAKE YOUR TIME, he said after 10 minutes.
At 20 minutes, he started gently tapping the butt of his scythe on the dark oak floor.
“Do you mind?” I snapped.
HMM? OH. I’M SORRY.
The tapping stopped. I took a drink of water. I studiously avoided the glass of scotch. I needed intact what wits I had, as inadequate as they seemed to be.
After 45 minutes, I moved a bishop to block his rook, the best move I had. I looked him in the eye.