I pretty much never played chess growing up. I like games like Pictionary, Cheat (aka B.S.), President (aka Scum), and Risk, but only if there’s lots of table talk. Chess requires way too much analytical thinking and way not enough free-form intuition.
But in this neighbourhood, chess can be a community event. Most afternoons there’s always a couple games going on in various neighbourhood shady spots, usually with a few bystanders. It’s always men; they said the women do whatever it is they do inside. But when we play, we don’t just get spectators; we get participants. People just reach in a make moves for you, and then someone else takes that person’s move back and makes their own instead, and all the time people are commenting/arguing over what move should be made and why. Or they’ll make several moves in a row and maybe half get taken back. I get totally lost, but that’s fine, because I have almost no idea what I’m doing anyway. I’m still trying to remember what tones to use for each piece’s name while Mr. Sòng is trying to decide if he should beat me quick or let me linger and thus savour his inevitable victory.