Chapter 6:

Utami's conundrum

En Passant Grandmaster

As soon as school got out, the chess club met in the park.

"Everyone, I have some exciting news! Our club status has been officially approved! Now, we have all the rights and privileges of any other club. This means we will get our own club room and have a budget to use on materials and tournaments," Mimoko stated.

"How'd you get approval?" Okisato asked.

"I beat the principal in a game of chess."

"Y- You BEAT him!?" Utami trembled.

"Yeah, he was easy. How about I show you the game."

"Does that mean you're now the club president?" Yuusuke asked.

"Correct. Are there any objections?"

"Me, me ME! I wanna be president!" Iori giggled.

"Then are you capable of beating everyone here as well as teaching all members ways to improve their chess playing? Not to mention all the administrative duties-"

"Er, you can be prez."

"Any other objections?"


"Hearing none, I will now assume my role as club president. Now let's review the game I played against the principal..."


"And that's how it went. Remember, delusions of grandeur can completely ruin you and lead to mate. Always keep an eye on your opponent's piece placement and think about all the moves they could do. Now, I would also like to inform you all that a tournament will be held this weekend at the Lagoon pathways hotel. If any of you wish to participate, please inform me by tomorrow; that way, I can register everyone as a team the day before," Mimoko stated.

Yuusuke scratched his head. "Isn't that hotel all the way in Mito?"

"Yes, however, since we're now an official club, we can use our new club budget to book rooms at the place so we don't have to take the train back and forth."

"We get free rooms!? I'm in!" Iori chimed.

"Can't say no in that case. Er, since we're a club, does eligibility matter?"

"Yes Shousen-kun. Are you ineligible?"

"Not exactly, but I might need to leave now to go study. If I flunk my math test tomorrow, I'm screwed."

"Then you are excused. Though I will check to make sure you all are eligible before registering. AH! In that case, we should all exchange contact information and join the Lime group I created for the club."

Utami immediately began to freak out. "I- Inoue-sama's phone number!? I- I-"

"I- Inoue-sama's phone number!? I- I… can’t."

"Why are you so jittery, Enoki-san?" Okisato asked.

"I'm- I'm... I... I..."

"Let's play a quick game of chess."

As the two began playing, Utami's confident persona bubbled to the surface, allowing Okisato to ask her about her troubles. With a deep sigh, Utami revealed that she was the principal’s daughter and that he and her older brother, the student council vice president, were pressuring her not to join the chess club and instead stick with the shogi club which she was already a part of.

Mimoko had no qualms with Utami being part of both clubs, however, that did little to solve Utami’s conundrum. It turned out that her father wished to build a shogi dynasty, and as such wanted Utami to match her brother’s skill in shogi in order to make him look good.

“I actually don’t enjoy shogi that much, and believe it or not, neither does my other brother, Kazuya-ni. However, Kazuya-ni has strengths in other areas, unlike me,” Utami scowled as her hand trembled.

“He’s the student council president, right?” Okisato asked.

Utami responded with a delayed nod, tipping Okisato off that there was more to the story beneath the surface.

"Well just get some dirt on em and then you can do what you want," Iori suggested.

"Iori-chan, that's wrong on so many levels," Mimoko glared.

Okisato then decided to bring up Gyro. “Inoue-senpai, you mentioned how the grandmaster facilitated the match between you and the principal. What would your punishment have been if you lost?"

"Why are you curious? Well, if I had lost I would have been expelled."

"That's it? No stripping, no chugging wasabi, no shaving your head? Lame," Iori scoffed.

"Um, I think expulsion is a pretty big deal!"

"I mean if expulsion equaled death than sure, but all those anime and manga that use expulsion as the ultimate punishment just seem kinda lame to me. I mean so what? You get expelled, but you can still go about living your life, heck you could even still hang out with your friends from school."

"Expulsion could be the student equivalent of getting fired from a job," Okisato stated.

"Fired huh? Well getting fired has more impact than getting expelled, but they could just get another job. Now getting fired/expelled AND going to jail, different story. Anyway, I gotta go. I wanna get my stream going early, so make sure you all tune in!" Iori smiled as she skipped away.

"And now there were three," Mimoko sighed.

Just then, Utami's phone began ringing. "Apologies, but it seems the game will have to remain unfinished. Nagi-ni is requesting my return," Utami sighed.

"No worries, I can mate you in two anyway," Okisato nodded.

"Huh? ...! I see I still have much to learn. Well, I shall be off."

"Since you lost, mind answering just a single question?"

"What is it?"

"What's the deal with your split personality?"

"Oi Tanabe-kun! It's rude to just ask something like-"

"I see. You must be wondering how a timid mess like me can suddenly exude confidence. The truth is I can only act like this when playing chess."

"Why's that?"

"I'm unsure myself. Though if I were to surmise, it would be because I am truly invested in it. Unlike shogi, I feel joy and excitement when playing chess. It makes me feel powerful and confident when I can control the board. I especially love the power of the queen. In shogi, the promoted bishop and rook are the closest a piece will get to matching the queen's movements. Each has the same unrestricted movements of their chess counterparts, however the promoted rook can only advance one space diagonally, while the promoted bishop can only advance one space horizontally and vertically, unlike the queen which is unrestricted in how many spaces it can move horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Even knights are more versatile in chess than shogi."

Okisato stared in silence for a moment before making an offer. “Want to win your freedom?”

"How would I do that?"

"By beating the shogi team in chess."

Everyone stared in silence at Okisato. "Hmm? Did I say something weird?"

"Yes. Why would the shogi team agree to such a proposal? If anything, they'd force us to beat them at shogi to win Enoki-chan's freedom,” Mimoko glared.

"Then we meet them halfway. Inoue-senpai, are you familiar with bughouse?"

"Bughouse? Yes, I believe it's a two player variation of chess."

"Correct, and just like in shogi, you can use captured pieces, but only ones captured by your teammate."

"Hmm, they might agree to that. But how can we ensure they stick to their word?" Utami asked.

"By making sure the guy with the gyroscopes is present. Of course, if he is present, there will be a risk that if you lose, you'll be subjected to a cruel fate."

"Why's that? Mr. Gunnerson-"

"Is with the Desperado league."

"Huh!? But when he was here, nothing seemed menacing about him! Plus he didn't have that device that-"

"It can be subtle. The DESPER has the power to even make you move your body and say things against your will. I imagine that's the only reason the principal truly approved of the club."

“Then, the chessboard that appeared was made from the DESPER!? So then he lied about using his WWCF card-”

“Every card does have the function to summon a chess board, but it’s only a holographic one, and not a physical one. I can even show you how to-”

"De- Desperado? D- DESPER? W- What is all that?" Utami trembled as her timid persona kicked back in.

"Tanabe-kun, you need to explain to her," Mimoko glared.

Okisato let out a heavy sigh, and proceeded to tell Utami everything, secretly judging her reactions and body language to his explanation.

After the chess club was dismissed, Okisato and Mimoko walked home together. “Well, have your doubts about Enoki-chan been cleared?” Mimoko asked.

“Somewhat. Now I’ve got a far better grasp on her personality and who she is.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m good at reading people. It’s how I got good at chess. Though I struggle to get a good read on people smarter than me.”

“Are you saying Enoki-chan’s smarter than you?”

“No, at least I don’t think she is. Though she definitely has potential to become a good chess player. But what about you, do you trust Enoki-san?”

“I do.”

“Then are you OK with her stalking you?” Okisato asked as he glanced at a nearby bush.”

“Stal- WHAT!?”

“She’s hiding there. Oi, come out. I’ve known you’ve been there forever.”

Utami suddenly bolted out of the bush and ran away at top speed before Mimoko could react.

“Hmm, I saw her face… Now I understand everything. Inoue-senpai, make sure you ask Enoki-san to explain everything to you before you decide to fight the shogi club for her sake. I’m sure you’re smart enough to tell when someone’s lying,” Okisato nodded as he walked away, leaving Mimoko in a state of confusion.

In a rough part of town, Gyro lounged in a filthy bathtub in nothing but his fedora and feather earrings. The gyroscopes still continued to spin atop his hat, perfectly balanced as he leaned back and exhaled the smoke from his cigar.

"Why the hell are you in here too?" he snarled at the handsome man lounging at the other end of the tub.

"Iyah, no need to be so hostile, Gyro-kun. We're both guys."

"I'm not into guys."

"Well neither am I so there's nothing to get antsy about."

Gyro’s tubmate was a man who had long brunette hair, slit eyes, and a beautiful face. He was known as Cypress Sycamore, and ran a salon as his main line of business while also secretly being a part of the Desperado league.

"Do hurry up in there, lovebirds. I need to wash all my arms," a large man with a shaved head chuckled as he took his bowler hat off.

The man stood at nearly 7 ft tall and wore a black overcoat along with a brown leather zanni mask. He was known as Dr. Zanni, the owner of a shady tavern as well as an infamous underground chess player with the Desperado league.

"Like hell you can use the tub to wash those! The damn thing's filthy enough as is!" Gyro fumed as he began to get out.

"But I like to keep my arms nice and clean. I do love the sight of pearly white bones," Zanni chuckled as he pulled a skeleton arm out from his overcoat.

"My, that one looks new. Whose was it?" Cypress cooed.

"A salaryman that had just been hired, however he made the choice to venture out to drink at my place to celebrate, and well you know the song and dance."

"Intoxicate them with alcohol, promise them some big money, then bring down the chainsaw on them."

"He even brought friends too," Zanni chuckled as he pulled open his overcoat to expose six more skeletal human arms.

"Any of them have cute faces?"

"There was a young woman amongst them, but I wouldn't call the look I saw upon her face cute. Her makeup had smeared, foam and blood were spilling out. Not very cute if I do say so myself."

"Oi, oi, that sounds like a mega hot girl. You snap a picture?"

"Hmm? I thought you hated women."

"I do, but I love seeing them suffer," Cypress maliciously smirked.

"In that case, I've got a mission for you both," Gyro said as he put on a bathrobe. "Some kids are trying to disrupt Mr. Enoki's shogi dynasty. I figure giving them a scare by offing a few of them will solve the problem."

Zanni and Cypress gazed at the information on their phones. "Heh? I see two girls here. One's unrated and the other I recognize as a dumb streamer," Cypress cooed.

"I doubt you two would be able to best Mimoko Inoue."

Cypress' eyes narrowed as Zanni shot Gyro an odd glance. "What do you mean by that?"

"She played like a grandmaster. While she did best a man prone to blunders such as Mr. Enoki, her style of play reminded me of some of the grandmasters I've faced."

"The ones in normal matches?"

"Yes, I fear that even within the Desperado league, only the Ultima-master or Peter could even the playing field. And even then, since Peter refuses to use a DESPER, none would be able to stop her from challenging the Ultima-master should she get a high rating."

"So that’s why you’re so flustered. That bitch is actually a major threat. That's why I hate women with cute faces so much, they’re crafty bitches that use their cute looks to put you off guard, then stab you in the back when you’re guard’s down. " Cypress glared.

"Mr. Enoki's daughter is naturally off limits, but feel free to handle the other two. Both of you are well above them in terms of rating and skill. As for me, I will handle the Oni-tiger."

"The Oni-tiger? Uhp, you're right; he's on the roster. Well, men can have a hidden side too."

"I don't care who gets who, just do it by tomorrow morning."

"In that case, dibs on the streamer girl," Cypress cooed.

"I'll take the delinquent then. I'm used to dealing with his type after all," Zanni nodded.

"Then make sure you intercept them before they get to school. I want their deaths to make the afternoon news," Gyro glared.

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