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Canine chess master hoax or wonder?

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Bangor man claims his dog is a chess prodigy

BANGOR According to one local man, the game of kings has gone to the dogs.

Anthony DiCicco is a long-time lover of chess. In his younger days, he played competitively, but he has since settled into a much more recreational relationship with the game. However, something happened recently that has turned his world upside down.

'It all started a few months ago,' said DiCicco. 'A friend had come over and we sat down to play a game. Nothing too crazy; we were both just taking our time, shooting the breeze, having some fun.

'Anyway, my buddy had to go before we finished, so I told him we could just leave the board as it was and we could play it out later. He left, I went about my day and didn't think anything more about it.'

But when he happened to glance at the board a few hours later, something was different.

'One of his pieces had moved,' he said. 'Not a little bit, either clear across the board. And it was a solid gambit, too. The sort of move my pal probably wouldn't have seen.'

On a whim, DiCicco executed his countermove and left the board. It happened again. And again. The pieces kept moving, seemingly of their own accord.

'I couldn't for the life of me figure out what was happening,' he said. 'I will admit that whatever mysterious force was moving the pieces was a damn sight better at the game than anyone I played with any regularity.'

Curious, DiCicco set up a camera in the room in hopes of capturing a glimpse of what was happening. When he looked at the footage, he discovered something astounding.

'It was my dog,' he said. 'My dog was playing against meand she was winning.'

That's right. According to the allegedly not-crazy DiCicco, his dog was the one moving the pieces and displaying a terrific acumen for the game, with a real depth of understanding regarding the many nuances and strategies therein.

Unfortunately, it seems that the initial video has mysteriously vanished under unclear circumstances. Meanwhile, the dog an adorably big-eared mixed-breed named Stella has apparently refused to continue playing under the watchful eye of the camera. DiCicco has stated that the dog continues to play and play at a high level but she refuses to do it when anyone might be watching her.

'Look, I know how it sounds,' said an increasingly unhinged DiCicco. 'I feel like that poor bastard with the singing frog in that old cartoon. It sounds crazy I sound crazy but it's the truth. She's an elite chess player, maybe even a prodigy. It pains me to say it, but the biggest hope for the future of American chess might just be my dog.'

An effort was made to give DiCicco the benefit of the doubt. We sat quietly in his kitchen for nearly three hours, waiting for Stella to make her next move. It seemed that DiCicco was simply a crank, looking for attention until we returned to the board.

A piece had been moved.

'I'm pretty sure she had me mated in six moves,' DiCicco said in an awed whisper. 'This isn't part of that gambit, though. This is a zwischenzug an in-between move intended to force an opponent to make a specific play.'

He looked at me, pride and fear mingling in his eyes.

'And nowthe next move is yours.'

(Editor's note: This is the April Fools' Day edition of The Maine Edge. In case you were wondering, most if not all of this story is completely made up.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 30 March 2016 15:09

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