The Chess Game I Lost
In the 1970ís The Antique Trade was booming. Fine quality Antiques were almost doubling in price as the auction houses in London. The provinces were hungry to satisfy the increased demand for top quality 19th century porcelain, French clocks, ivory, and all quality antiques of that period.
The demand was coming mainly from America, and Italy.
My new shop on Richmond Hill was doing well, but I had trouble in replacing much of the finest quality stock I was dealing with as the prices in London were getting astronomical. It was not that much better with the local auctioneers either.
I was blessed with many wealthy customers and one in particular, was an elderly gentleman who would purchase the finest quality of antiques I had. He was one of my first regular customers and over a period of four years, he would visit almost weekly.
I felt sorry for him when he came into the shop (in 1990). We had our usual coffee and chat, then after looking around at our stock, he told me sadly, "As I am getting too old to stay in my large house, I will be going into an up market nursing home to be looked after in my latter years".
He must have been in his mid 90ís.
I told him he looked young & sprightly, but he shook his head and said, "my mind has been made up and my house has been sold".
He then asked me if I would be interested in purchasing his fine collection of antiques, including the ones he had purchased from me. I told him I would be delighted, also that I would show him a good profit on the antiques he had purchased from my shop.
After giving me his address an appointment was made for the following day. I also rang up my bank manager, telling him I was about to buy a consignment of fine antiques and he must expect that my overdraft to rise.
I arrived at the old gentlemanís house at ten o'clock as arranged and he greeted me warmly. He told me to wander around to view all his lovely antiques. He mentioned that he had confidence in me to receive a fair price for anything he sold.
I have never seen such a superb collection of porcelain, French clocks, furniture, and ivory in a private house before.
In the corner of the excellent lounge I spotted a chess table.
It was French, made by a craftsman in the 1850ís and inlaid with ormolu, and marble. The finest table I have seen outside of a museum! On the table were the ivory chessmen.
They were all Swiss carved by an absolute master. The King & Queen were about six inches high of the finest quality. The bishops and rooks were a chess lovers dream as were the knights. Even the pawns were superbly carved.
I gazed at them with admiration when the old gentleman - who was behind me - asked me, "what did I think of the table and chessmen?". I told him I had never seen a better set.
Then asked me if I could play chess. I told him, "I am a only a beginner player". I just about know the moves that are possible. He then told me he played for the local club, and that he was well respected and insisted that we play a few moves.
When I made a small protest saying that we had to arrange the business of buying and selling of the antiques, he looked disappointed. So I sat down, he ordered coffee from his housekeeper and the game commenced.
I moved the Queens Pawn and he moved something I slid the bishop somewhere leaving my King vulnerable (I was hoping to let him win quickly so that we could commence the Business of the purchases) after two more moves, I really do not remember what they were, He stood up, and in an accusing voice told me I had made him Checkmate!
I made a hurried attempt to change the move I had made, but he stopped me.
He informed me in a angry voice that he did not appreciate people that say they cannot play chess and are really experts! And would I kindly leave the house right away, as he did not wish to do any business with me.
He put all the Antiques in the London Auction which received astronomical prices.
I have never won a game of chess since.