Chapter 27:

Prelude to the third round

En Passant Grandmaster

The next day, Okisato gazed oddly at Mimoko as she arrived at the meeting point in casual attire. "So that's your casual outfit? Seems kind of... weird. Why the suspenders?"

"Tanabe-kun, I didn't ask you to critique my look," Mimoko glared.

Since school uniforms were optional to wear, Mimoko had opted to wear a more casual outfit consisting of sneakers, a black skirt and suspenders, and a white long sleeve shirt containing the Shogikawa gakuin insignia on the cuffs.

"Casual dress is permitted, though since you are here as a team representing the school, you are still encouraged to at least wear something bearing the school's insignia," Maida stated as she arrived in her usual attire.

"Lol, why you wearin’ suspenders, Mimo-chan?" Iori laughed as she arrived.

"Because I think they look cute with my dress," Mimoko pouted.

Iori was in full-blown casual attire. She now wore a red bra top, black miniskirt, a navy blue jacket, and her trademark glittery white sneakers and mismatched red and pink socks.

"Ishikiridokoro-chan, I know I said casual wear is permitted, but I would KINDLY ask you at the very least cover up your midriff while you're playing," Maida glared.

"You've been doing real good so far, Iori-chan," Mimoko smiled.

"Yeah, I figured I'd win the whole thing, and all the chumps I've played have gotten fodderized, so I'm feelin’ good," Iori grinned as she took a selfie.

"The opponents will only get harder as you win more."

"I can handle it."

Yuusuke and Utami were the next to arrive. Yuusuke was in casual attire, while Utami had opted to still wear her uniform. Yuusuke was in slightly higher spirits due to winning in the second round and receiving some pointers from Mimoko regarding a certain match. Utami however, was still feeling down due to not yet having won a game.

Rodeo, Yuzuha, and Numakawa were the last to arrive. Numakawa had a bit more color to his face, but was still visibly shaken from his second round loss and continued to mutter all the moves over and over again.

"Still muttering the game?" Okisato asked.

"Pawn- Oh, it's you. One setback will not derail me. Science is all about trial and error after all."

"Well to be fair you did play one of the best players in the world."

"You mentioned the other day that he's one of the top 5 players in the world. Tanabe-kun, have you played him before?" Mimoko asked.

"Yes, many times in fact. He’s obsessed with finding good chess rivals. Since the top players aren't always available for play, he'll frequently travel searching for strong opponents. One day he approached me and after trouncing me, he took an interest in me under the assumption that I'd get better and give him more of a challenge in the future."

"Have you ever beaten him?"

"No, heck I don't think that guy's ever lost against someone lower rated than him, and even against the ones rated higher than him, his wins against them are higher than his loses."

"What a monster, I would love to play him."

"He might be the one person here that could truly best you. Well, I guess that's to be expected from a guy named after Paul Morphy."

"Paul Morphy? Ah, the American chess player from the 1800s that was regarded as one of the greatest players of his time?"

"Yes, but he decided to retire from chess after playing for only 2 years. Now that Peter's the second coming of Paul, the WWCF is doing all that they can to make sure he sticks with chess for life."

"I appreciate the history lesson, but I do believe we should be discussing it over breakfast instead of standing around here," Maida nodded.

"Oh right, let's eat before the third round starts."

As the group entered the hotel restaurant, they unknowingly passed by a table occupied by the members of the Desperado league. The Desperados failed to notice them either as they were primarily focused on their own food before them.

"My, you sure are on edge, Gyro-sama," Zanni chuckled as he played with a chicken bone on his plate.

"Time is running out. Mimoko Inoue has already bested two foes, one rated 2647 and one rated 2673. If her exhibition match against Okisato Tanabe is also factored in, which it will be, her rating will likely fall between 2600 and 2700, and that's just assuming she loses her remaining games today, which I fear she won't."

"I thought the armada was here."

"Nyoan is competing, but in the rookie section, though she’d never beat her anyway and with your win and loss, Peter's the only one that might get a shot at her aside from me. However if she wins her 3rd match, Svetlana and Haruki won't even get paired with her even if they win all their games."

"So they've arrived, then?" Peter asked as he closed his book.

"...No, and if they have to take byes for this round too, they'll ensure they never play her."

"Though, there are other members from her club in the tournament. We could target them," Zanni mused as he held up his DESPER.

"Put that thing away. We're at a tournament," Peter glared.

Zanni nodded and quickly put his DESPER back in his pocket.

"Peter, we don't have the same luxuries as you do. I for one will not allow another dangerous prodigy to rise and oppose us. If she beats Hagemi, it's over. We'll never be able to stop her,” Gyro glared.

"Yeah, YOU wouldn't be able to stop her, cuz you're too out of line with the time, old man," a young man's voice sneered.

Everyone turned to notice a beautiful young man with long chestnut hair and tan skin. He was clad in a white bathrobe and slippers and surrounded by six large muscular men of various nationalities.

"What a killjoy, I got all dolled up at the SPA, but Svetlana ain't here. Well, guess my skin appreciated the splurge. See ya later," the man sneered as he turned to walk away.

"HARUKI! Take this seriously dammit! If she gets a rating higher than yours, you won't be able to subject her to your brawling match."

"Oi, oi, chess boxing's a recognized sport. The WWCF's even got a specific rating for it, though it does collab with the International boxing federation. Anyway, no Svetlana-tan, so play-"


Everyone turned to see a young woman with short silver hair clad in a black leather jacket, pants and boots. She carried a large parcel on her back and despite her lean look, possessed abnormal strength and hidden muscle.

"Well hello, sexy. Wanna have some sex for good luck?" Haruki cooed. The woman responded by unleashing a kick at Haruki's face. "Oi, oi, no kicks allowed in standard chess boxing, Svetlana-tan."

"Call me that again and I'll shatter your skull with my hammer," the woman glared.

"And not my nuts?"

"You would regrettably enjoy that."

"You've both got your work cut out for you. Here's everyone you need to be aware of," Gyro glared as he sent everyone a message on their phones.

"Just these 6? Three of the hot girls are unrated while the other one’s only 500. I think I'm gonna jizz," Haruki maliciously grinned.

"Well then it will be in you wet dreams, because only two of those women are even competing in the open section," Svetlana glared as she stared with murderous intent at Okisato's picture."

"He's 2-0, and is having a good tournament. You will need to put in the work to even be considered to be paired against him," Gyro glared.

Svetlana nodded and immediately headed off.

"Not even gonna eat? Well, I'll go after that one with the black hair and glasses, she looks like she'd be fun to molest," Haruki sneered as he twiddled his DESPER in his hands.

"I'll finish what I started with the boy then," Zanni chuckled.

"But he's Hagemi's son," Gyro trembled.

"So? I fear her not. In fact, it shall kill two birds with one stone. Perhaps I should try to match his results to best get paired against him."

"Very well, let us see if the pairings are up."


Gyro trembled as he stared at the pairings; he was up against Mimoko.

"Ara, if it isn't Gyro-san. Why are you so scared, up against Hagemi-chan?" Kuon sneered as she approached the pairings.

"Kuon, so you were here. I thought I saw your name in the standings, but you never came to any strategy meetings," Gyro glared.

"I didn't feel like it. I had to take care of my cats."

"CATS!? Oh, the ones created by the DESPER. A shame you didn’t have Nyoan compete in the intermediate section, then she could have targeted Mr. Enoki’s daughter or the girl that did in Cypress."

“I need to build up Nyoan’s skill so she doesn’t need to rely on odds for DESPY matches.


"Yes, I believe that since I've discovered new ways to use it, I get to rename it."

"What, are you a scientist? Besides Manfred-"

"That mad monkey? Do not pay any heed to his ravings."

"And why should I pay heed to a fickle woman like you?"

"Anyone can be good at chess, yes? Then anyone can be a scientist, even a fickle woman that's a higher-rated grandmaster than you, like myself."

"Then you're clearly a deluded scientist," Gyo scoffed as he headed for the playing room.

"Hmm? It says I'M playing Hagemi, and you are playing an unrated girl. My, are you starting to fear women?" Kuon sneered.

"Did I not tell you before!? Mimoko Inoue is dangerous, if she beats Hagemi-"

"What makes you think Hagemi will beat me?"

"That I am certain will come to pass. I KNOW you can't so much as phase her. She's on a different level than us."

A scowl formed on Kuon's face as Gyro stormed away. "No, the only queen here is me. I WILL beat her, this time..."

As Kuon sat down at the chessboard, a cheerful Hagemi approached her. "Hey girlfriend, ready to have some fun?"

"Yes, today I will beat you and prove I'm the true queen of chess," Kuon glared.

"You really are cute when ya glare like that."

"And I do hate it ever so much when you flirt with me. You are the last person I would dare to marry."

"Marriage!? Girl, no need to hide your feelings. I'm single and ready to mingle."

"Oh, so you divorced? I hope it made you miserable."

"Oi, tone it down a little. I'm just makin’ friendly banter with ya, girl."

"But I don't want to be friendly with you. You are my enemy."

"Alright, tsundere. Now let's have a good game."

"If it wasn't required, I wouldn't shake your hand," Kuon glared.

Elsewhere in the room, Svetlana looked ready to go on a murderous rampage as she sat across from Haruki. However, she refused to shake his hand, resulting in a headache for the arbiters.

At another board, Yuusuke shuddered as he sat next to Zanni. Noticing that it was possible to get matched up against him, Zanni decided to go all in on his strategy to match Yuusuke’s performance. He was even willing to resign while ahead should Yuusuke lose his game.

At his board, Okisato sighed as he stared at his opponent.

"Okisato Tanabe, do try to make me put my book down," Peter growled as he read his book.

"I wish I could. You really traumatized Numakawa-san. Poor guy was mumbling the moves in his sleep."

"Sorry, who?"

"Nevermind. Guess I'll just go crazy."

"'Crazy' you say?"

"They say insanity is the best way to counter a genius."

Peter glared as he closed his book and set it down. "Then you best not disappoint me. I don't want to see suicidal chess."

"I'll try."

A few boards away from Hagemi and Kuon, Gyro trembled as he stared across at Mimoko.

"Now we can finally play each other, Mr. Gunnerson. Though I am honestly disappointed that you are such a bad person," Mimoko sighed.

"Listen girl, ANYONE can be good at chess. Never diminish someone's skill as a chess player because of who they are or what they've said or done."

"Even cheaters?"

"They are the one exception, but I assure you, I NEVER cheat, nor does any other Desperado league member."

"That sounds like a pretty big claim. Are you even capable of verifying it?"

"No, then let me rephrase it; to my knowledge, no member of the Desperado league has ever cheated to win a match. Underhanded tactics can be legal and not considered cheating."

"But still morally wrong."

"Like I said before, ANYONE can be good at chess, good or bad."

"Tanabe-kun said the same thing."

"A rare occasion where our views align, now let me put an end to your Cinderella story."

Mario Nakano 64
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