by Jerry Vilhotti
Johnny and a fellow teacher Fernando Chipawa joined together to sculpt a chess team for Still Mountains High School. The school never once had a chess team and many of the faculty and two thirds of the student body called it in fun "chest".
Johnny held a chess class on Saturday morning in order to get a little extra money for a little things like food for their two pre-school children and the one on the way feeding off her mother's eating!
Five boys all freshmen and one girl a freshman too showed up for the nine am class.
Fernando helped the janitor in a part time weekend capacity, trying to earn a little money since Las Vegas threw him out and black-balled him for having the audacity to win in a non-cheating way ten thousand dollars. He happened to be ready to clean the class room but thought better of having students see him in such a compromising situation so came into the class room as a curious teacher. In whispers he asked Johnny for a job and Johnny nodded. He would be the lead teacher and Fernando would be his assistant that Johnny would pay him a third of what he was getting.
For three weeks everyone had fun learning the game well, but unbeknownst to Johnny, Fernando was playing the students for money - and they were beating him out of a third of his earnings!
Johnny went over the importance of gaining the center. After securing that, one could launch very good attacks.
One Saturday morning two of his students Carl Yumstrensky and his twin sister Cathy asked Johnny if the Berkshire league had a chess league and could they join it going against richer schools who looked down on their poor cousin from Still Mountains. One such school could boast of having Harriet Beecher Stowe as a one time resident of their great town and another school further north could boast that John Brown had been a resident even before he and his kids did a Harpers Ferry on the South believing unlike some of the founding fathers who believed that all people were indeed equal. It should be noted that women, Native Americans, Blacks and no property whites could not vote.
Johnny went to see the principal Mister Wateronthebrain and his assistant Nick Maciavelli who at first dismissed the notion saying blue collar people like theirs could not compete with the likes of Tom's Cabin and a smoldering crazy guy who started the silver war two years before South Carolina did. They did not like this upstart kid who had taught four years in New York City before coming up the their Litchfield Hills but when Johnny said he was going to write a letter to the local paper they acquiesced knowing Johnny was a writer but doubting very much he could have had three stories published in the Literary Review somewhere in a New Jersey having been a graduate from some community college in New York called CCNY. The only college that had won the NIT and NCAA basketball tournaments in the same year.
Their five boys and one girl crushed their competition during the regular season and were the favorites to win the Berkshire tournament though others wanted to not see this happen thus inviting a high school near Yale and another one near the state's capitol.
Their kids won that too and the coaches tournament found Johnny and Fernando tied for first place!
They decided holding the trophy of lady victory they would play a match of twenty one games against each other after school. The contest lasted for a month and Johnny won.
When Johnny and Fernando went to ask the principal and the vice principal to allow them to play again in the league having a small bus to drive them to their games, they were told no unless they could buy extra car insurance and drive the kids themselves. There was not a second season for the champions who would have been sophomores the next year.
Connectectandcut was going to be one hell of place to live but and he his wife - with the help of her uncle a world war two navigator who was fighting for democracy and building homes for low middle class people at an affordable price which allowed them to live in their one family raised ranch home with their three children, a son and two girls, growing up in an area rich with trees, animals, and birds overlooking a mountainous view.