Mate: a Story in 15 Moves
Robert Castle

William Pillsbury: WhiteDenise Larkin: Black

Better known as the "Baby Exploit." This first match between these grandmasters might prove to be the most memorable. Flawlessly played by Larkin, this game established her formidableness as Black. Yet, one cannot help but admire Pillsbury's moves after defeat becomes inevitable.

1. He leaves her apartment an hour after they have sex.
1. "Do you think we'll ever get married?"

2. "I always figured we would get married."

Technically bad. Better: 2. Gets on his knees and 3. "Will you marry me?" White forces Black to listen and restrict her own development. The seeming inconvenience of the slow start will be amply rewarded by a strong endgame. Remember: KEEP HER HAPPY is one of the goals of the early games in this match. A player, as it was here by Pillsbury, often forgets that to give in to one's opponent can lead to rewarding if not winning developments. 2. "I figured we would get married" might have been suitable in another match or if Black had opened with "I think I'm pregnant" (a move she reserved for later and under quite contrasting circumstances) before their actual engagement to be married.

2. She retains her maiden name.

3. Declines to wear wedding ring.
3. "Where are the car keys?"

Black's is the kind of move that makes her opponent believe she is scratching around for a Plan. It will not be the last time Pillsbury will underestimate Larkin -- indeed, the next underestimation will be in overestimating her capabilities, i.e., believing she has a Plan when in fact she's scratching around for one.

4. "I don't drive your car."

White sees little prospect in helping her out. An alternative: 4. "Not again!" However, berating one's opponent must be sustained an entire game. Pillsbury knows that he does not pack that weapon in his arsenal. Albeit, this would have been a more lively game if he had taken a verbal shot at Black from nowhere. Nothing provokes more anxiety than the mixture of verbal violence followed by a pregnancy.

4. She insists they food shop together.

5. "What do you mean we can't afford lamb chops?"
5. "We're having meat loaf."

6. He joins a Fantasy Football League.
6. "I made an appointment to see Doctor Pearlman."

Black expects: 7. Takes off from work to drive her to the doctor's office. This would have been the safe move for Pillsbury.

7. Do you think you're pregnant?"(?)

If you had seen White's face, you would have known he realized his mistake. Not that he doesn't want children. Just not this soon. And it was this latter flinch that Black detected in his tremulous question. Really, he was happy. Too late now!!! Cynthia thinks (or worse: think she thinks) that he thought that now he could not afford joining a Baseball Rotisserie League. Infinitely better for Pillsbury (better than safe): 7. Smiles and kisses, and 8. (a winning combination with 7. in some games) Takes her to bed.

7. She takes him to the shopping center for the ostensible purpose to buy furniture.

8. "We don't need a diapering table," he says firmly.
8. "How are we going to change the kid?"

An apparently senseless exchange (moreover, a public one!), unless one (like Larkin) interprets Pillsbury's move 8. as "Why the hell are we having children?" And if Pillsbury actually meant this, he should have said it! Was having a child going to hold him back (professionally!)? Or perhaps he felt the world did not need another voracious American mouth to feed? From Larkin's perspective, her husband was refusing to accept her condition.

9. "On the bed or a chair."
9. She buys the book Women Who Love Too Much.

10. He starts going to Church on Sunday.

This loses amusingly.

10. She stops going to Church altogether.

11. "We should move out of this apartment and find a bigger place."
11. "I like this area. There are a bunch of beginning families in this area."

12. He gets drunk at his company's Christmas party.
12. "I can't believe you drove home in that condition."

13. He works extra hours to build up the bank account.
13. "You were probably hoping I wanted an abortion."

14. He quits his FFL and decides not to join the Baseball Rotisserie League.
14. "What if the doctors says the baby's deformed or retarded?"


Pillsbury resigned rather than 15. Hits and knocks down his wife, and then Black's coup de grace 15. Miscarries and loses baby (mate!)