Rodney didn't understand it.
Well, of course he understood it, in the most basic sense.
There's nothing simpler than chess. The little castles can move in any direction but diagonal, the horses can move in an 'L' shape, the bishops can only move diagonally...
A simple game really, once you learned what could do what and what couldn't. He had played it brilliantly throughout college, and had somewhat missed the competition.
So, maybe it was more the idea of crushing the competition that he missed.
So, yes, Rodney understood the rules and regulations of the game itself.
What he didn't understand, not that the great Rodney McKay would ever admit to anyone that he didn't understand anything, was how Sheppard kept beating him at it.
It had him completely befuddled.
The board had arrived aboard the Daedelus the month before, and several Atlantis crew members had taken to playing on it in the mess hall nightly. All of them taking turns, swapping opponents, changing strategies...
All in all, it was just something to do. Something to break up the monotony of the 'Oh-look-here-come-the-Wraith-who're-going-to-try-and-wipe-us-out-of-existence-again-oh-goodie' thing.
Rodney had taken an interest in chess one evening as he watched Zelenka square off against Sheppard. The Colonel had been unstoppable, answering each of Radek's brilliant strategic moves with his own, which were equally brilliant. He didn't even look like he was trying!
After watching John beat Radek three times, he decided to have a go at it.
"Move over, Zelenka. Let someone with a higher IQ have a shot."
Rodney didn't get it. It was like the smirking military officer was some sort of idiot chess savant.
The first time Rodney had lost he was gracious.
It's a fluke...just a fluke.
The second and third time he was slightly annoyed.
How does he keep doing that!
Times four through twelve he had had an absolute fit.
He'd almost lost count as to how many times he'd lost against Sheppard.
Allow me to repeat that.
How could he have lost to that chimp forty six times!
Once was a fluke.
Three times was pure luck.
Ten times was someone feeding Sheppard moves from...somewhere...
But forty six? Forty six was unheard of!
Rodney was scheduled to face off against Sheppard again this evening. It had become somewhat of a ritual, the two men would meet in the mess hall, shake hands over the board and begin. Colleagues looking on as if the two were some sort of gladiators.
He'd noticed that there were several crewmen who seemed to be on his side, and several who seemed to be on Sheppard's. Whenever a match began, various staff members would float over and take their places behind their 'favorite' player.
Most of the science staff was on his side, Zelenka heading up the group since his own grudge against the man who'd beaten him was strong
Sheppard had mostly military on his side. Now, mostly meant that there were a few people who should have been, in Rodney's opinion anyway, on his side, but weren't. Two glaring examples were a physicist and the head chef. Both female, and both very vocal about who they wanted to see win. Doctor Lydia Winter was no real surprise, she'd already tried to kill him twice, and as for the Chef Alex Ramsey...well she had locked him in a freezer.
"Crush him, Sheppard, crush him!"
Did I mention how vocal they were about McKay's losing?
He refused to lose again. Flat out refused.
A few hours later, everyone was gathered in the mess. Sheppard's cheerleading squad was already there, as was McKay's, who were actually beginning to think that there was no hope of ever regaining the honor of Atlantis' scientific community through Rodney McKay.
McKay and Sheppard entered from opposite ends of the room, Rodney staring his opponent down and John just smirking away. They approached each other like boxers before a match, both determined to win, and shook hands before sitting down on either side of the black and white board.
Several minutes passed with both of them fighting for board supremacy.
By the end of the first hour, Sheppard had wiped out all of McKay's pawns along with one knight.
By the end of the second hour and things weren't looking very good for McKay's remaining bishop
By the time the third hour rolled around, Rodney's brow was dewy with sweat as he concentrated and agonized over each of his moves.
By the three and a half hour mark, it looked like it might all be over when-
"Unauthorized Offworld Activation!"
All the spectators scattered, readying themselves for the worst.
Rodney saw his opportunity, and took it.
The next morning, no-one was surprised that the simple black and white bit of cardboard had disappeared. After all, there had been a major skirmish in the mess hall the night before after a small contingent of Genii managed to get on the base. It was only natural that certain things didn't survive the battle.
No-one suspected (well alright, maybe Winter suspected...a little) that Rodney McKay had squirreled the blasted board away in his quarters, and had, after the fighting had finished, gleefully set the thing alight.
As God was his witness, he'd never play that blasted board game again.
Seven weeks later the Daedelus arrived with a fresh shipment of supplies.
Six chess boards, two of them the three dimensional 'Star Trek' type, were included, as per the request of Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard.
"Hey, look!" John called out as he entered the mess, "We can play again!"
He waved the board through the air, with a somewhat toothy, boyish grin.
John thought that Rodney turned the most delightful shade of purple.
A/N:If this silly drabble made no sense, I apologize. I've been up for thirty something hours and I usually get the writer's itch after severe sleep deprivation.
I was just staring at my chess board for longer than was healthy. There you have it, my inspiration. Not as snazzy as you'd think, is it? I love playing chess, I just..love it. I suck at it, but I love it just the same. I think I suck because I don't have anyone who'll play with me, so I can't practice.
Chef Ramsey belongs to Reefgirl from her story 'Cooking With A Blue Mary Sue', and Lydia Winter belongs to me from my fic 'Retribution'. Yes, they really do despise McKay, he really did get locked in a freezer with Ramsey and Winter really did try to kill him. You should go read about them...tada!