If your name were King Bishop, you'd know how to play chess, right? That's what Josh Whaley, who owns Ruski's, figured. But King Bishop, a sous chef at Street & Company who used to rent an apartment from Whaley, had never really played chess, despite his name. Somehow, that was beside the point. For months Whaley discussed challenging Bishop to a chess match with one significant wrinkle: each time one of them lost a piece, they had to do a shot. Of course, this was less of a chess match than a drinking game, but Whaley thought booze would even the odds. After all, his opponent's name was King friggin' Bishop.
After much negotiation and delay, the game happened. A board was set up. Shot glasses procured. There were even spectators, mostly friends of Bishop's from Street & Company. Bishop wanted to drink Dr. McGillicuddy's, mint schnapps with a lower proof than most liquor, but Whaley overruled him in favor of Jim Beam. Before the game began I asked if they would be playing with the en passant rule, but neither had even heard of it. Then I remembered this wasn't really a chess match. Duh!
Bishop had the white pieces, so he moved first. What ensued was not pretty. Bishop was clearly superior, and while both men lost pieces (and drank) developing the game, he clearly controlled the board. Soon enough Whaley knew he was beaten. He eventually knocked his king over and picked up his shot glass. The game was finished. Bishop won, consuming at least eight shots in 40 minutes along the way. Whaley, a seasoned drinker who, weighing in at 217, also had more than 50 pounds on his opponent, looked fine, but Bishop's skin was flushing an alarming pink. Since he's a thin little ginger, his pallor matched his hair perfectly. Bishop looked like a lobster that was not quite steamed. His complexion got so red it was like his freckles disappeared. Bishop said he felt fine, but I told him that he was in the meantime, like when you've dropped a hit of acid but it hasn't yet taken hold. Wait a few minutes, I said.
Then, Whaley set the board back up and said, Let's play again. Nobody had mentioned a second game. Bishop seemed inclined. I said, you just did eight shots in 40 minutes and if you do eight more you'll die. You'll be John Bonham. Dylan Thomas. Keith Moon. Did he listen to me? Of course he didn't. He was too drunk.
Bishop was losing minutes into the rematch, but they kept playing, each consuming at least eight more shots. Bishop got so shitfaced that he forgot he was playing the black pieces. He grabbed Whaley's white bishop and moved it diagonally across the board to capture one of Whaley's white rooks. The crowd roared. The game was over. Bishop was done. He seemed made of liquid. He couldn't speak, or stand upright without leaning on something.
Whaley, on the other hand, took a brief nap and then went to Mathew's Lounge to cheer on his dart team. What, if anything, was learned from this? Not much, but I was reminded of the advice that the family of Steve Martin's character gives him before he sets off to find his special purpose in the classic film, The Jerk. They said: The Lord loves a working man; never trust whitey; and see a doctor and get rid of it. To that, I think you could add don't get in a drinking contest with Josh Whaley, no matter what your name is.