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Online bullet chess can be beautiful when it hurts you so much that you accept your powerlessness without resistance. Resistance is what makes the pain unbearable. Acceptance allows you to transcend. For this reason, hitting myself, as hard as I can (I’m 6’5” and 280 pounds, so I hit hard), tight fists with full strength launched at my cheek, chin, mouth , nose. It’s like my own personal daily resurrection. If Jesus came back, he’d be a self-harming, online speed chess player.

Let me explain to you what happens. When I lose one or two games, I’m fine. But losing several in a row causes me to hate myself so much that the pressure inside enflamed like a vengeful hemorrhoid on a rampage, making me feel like my head and heart will bombard my insides, and so I need a release.

Some recommend exercise at times like these. Some say to scream in a pillow. Some, the wisest, will advocate for the consumption of copious amounts of drugs and alcohol. But none of these work for me, and I’ve tried them all. For me, self-inflicted pain via my own hands is the only trick.

The problem is that this only works for a short period of time. As soon as the pain wears off, or mostly wears off, I have to start up again. I have to get to that point where I feel good about myself again. Hitting doesn’t make me feel good on its own - it only puts off the pain and pressure. But once I stem from them, I have to get back to the mountaintop of victory, the only place where life is worth living. To do that, I have to play another three minute round of bullet chess.

It’s a risk, though. Sure, a win will get me back to where I wanted to be. But then I have to make up for the previous loss, not just for my rating (even with another win, I could still be lower than I was before if the person I lost to previously was of a much lower rating), but to make up for the shame I feel when I hit myself. Because even though it works to release the valve, I know it’s a sign of something wrong inside my head. Normal people don’t hit themselves, especially as hard as I do. So I need another rush to drown out the shame. I have to get back to that mountain top.

I play again. I lose again. The pressure builds and I hit myself again and again and again. This has been going on for two years. Two years of three minute games. I constantly feel like the clock is ticking. I dream about openings and gambits. I wake up thinking about time running out before I can figure out how to find a checkmate.

My head hurts all the time now.  I haven’t been diagnosed, but I think I’ve given myself at least three mild concussions over the past year. I know I have to stop or else I’ll die.

“Sounds like you’re an extreme dopamine addict,” some Redditor told me on a forum about video game addiction. “You need to digital detox and find more constructive/social ways to spend your time, such as spending time with friends and family.”

That comment got 55 upvotes. I downvoted it. I don’t have friends anymore and the few family members I have left have their own problems. No, I can’t digital detox. I have to get a 2000 rating.

So let me tell you about my day today, maybe the greatest day of my life.  I wake up and go right to the computer, right? I don’t make coffee. I don’t brush teeth. I fire up my laptop with a determination I had never felt so strongly in my life. I just fucking knew I was about to rampage through a bunch of people all over the world and boost my rating 200 points and finally get to 2000 - expert level.

They call it bullet chess, but believe me when I say I was shooting actual bullets. Bishop takes rook, motherfucker!  Rook takes bishop, bitch! Knight forks queen, you dumbass hoe! One after the other, I was demolishing people from India, Malaysia, Canada, Switzerland, South Africa, every nation on earth was getting this big, hard, chessmaster dick and there was nothing to stop me. Some were getting mad and chatted at me with insults and threats. Seeing weak desperation in broken English? Oh, that’s my favorite. It’s hilarious. They ran into a wall and got all jacked up. I feel bad for them, and that makes me feel so damn good.

Work? Hell no. I texted in sick. I didn’t even call. Text, that’s it. Food? Didn’t need it. I was eating the whole world. Sex? I gave up on that long ago. Maybe when I reach 2000 - expert level - maybe then, but not now.

My rating is rocketing up. When you beat players with a higher rating than you, you get more points on your rating. And when the algorithm saw that I was winning so many in a row, it would give me players with higher and higher ratings. But I smoked them, too! 2100 rating? I beat that clown in 12 moves. Him and his profile photo of him and his ugly wife or girlfriend or who gives a fuck - dude lost. I won. Give me those 12 points!

I won 22 straight games. My rating was 1993. I needed one more win to get to 2000 - expert level. And of course the site gives me a player with a lower rating - 1816 - which would only give me four points if I win, but take away 12 points if I lose. I didn’t take the bait. I canceled that game and got a new opponent. This one had the same rating as me. I quickly glanced at his stats. He had never reached 2000 points and was on a 10 game winning streak. We were fighting for the same glory. I accepted the game.

I got white and went first. I played my Barcza opening because I like to protect my king. But the other player, KNIGHTRULEZZZ999 from the U.S., decided to do something I didn’t expect. And from then on, I just couldn’t tell what he was doing, why, or even if he was really doing it. Nothing he did made any sense, but here I was losing a pawn here, a pawn there, then a knight, I got back a knight but then I lost a bishop, I didn’t see a plan from either him or me, he forked my queen and rook, I lost a rook, he moved his queen and put me in check, and finally I saw what he was doing. Checkmate in two moves, no matter what I did. I resigned. My rating fell to 1986. He’s at 2000, the fucker.  I’d need two wins to get to 2000 now. And I did what I never do after losing: I asked for a rematch.

KNIGHTRULEZZZ999 accepted and we played again, this time with him getting white. He made the same move he did before. Immediately I froze. He was baiting me into the same trap as before. I had to figure out a way to avoid the hazy situation he was luting me into. I calculated several moves, but couldn’t figure it out. Time ticking. Thirty seconds gone. Thirty-five. Forty. I move just to stop my clock from ticking. He moves again in a blink, Maintaining his time advantage. And he knows I didn’t make the right move to avoid the trap. I feel the hate bubbling up now. Simmering rage coursing through my veins. I make a move I don’t want to make and now I see why - he forked my two bishops. Why didn't I see that? Why didn’t I fucking see that? I give up the white bishop, but end up putting it on a square where he can easily trap it. Maybe he doesn't see it. Maybe he moves too quickly to see it. But he’s not moving. Now his clock is ticking. But he still has a 50 second advantage, and taking this long, he has to have seen it. Or maybe he went to the bathroom. Maybe he won’t see it. Maybe I’ll get this one. But no, he saw it. He takes the bishop. Now he has a well-formed attack on me. There are already three avenues to a checkmate. I see them. I can avoid them. But I’d only be playing defense while having an almost 30% time deficit. He has me. I resign. I ask for a rematch and he gives it to me. My rating is now 1977. I need three wins to get to 2000.

I don’t win. I lose. 1966. Four wins from 2000.

I ask for a rematch. He gives it.

I lose. My chest feels tight and my clench my teeth.

1957. Five from 2000.

I ask for rematch. He gives it.

I lose. I scream and smack myself on the temple. Hard, but with constraint. Wake up!





I punch the wall. I feel one of my knuckle bones crack. Anger increases.




Lose. Rematch. Lose. Rematch. Lose. Rematch. Lose. Rematch.

Lose. 1899.

Heart slapping my chest.

Brain splitting in two.

Lose. Rematch. Lose.


Ten straight losses.

Now I lose it. The bomb explodes.

I pick up my laptop and throw it at the wall. I pick up my desk and throw that, too. I clench my fist with the broken knuckle and hit my nose as hard as I can. Excruciating sparks of fill my head, and in that blindness of pain, I slaughter myself with more fists, more slaps, I whack my head against the wall, I scream until my lungs and throat burn, I throw myself at the wall, every bit of me, I do it again and again and again, head first, I want to crush my brain, it’s worthless, and again and again until I blackout.

I wake up hours later on the floor with pain covering my body head to toe like a cruel blanket. But I barely notice. In my head are a million chess moves happening at once. I remember my last rating: 1897. I need 11 wins. I can do it.

I go to my laptop. It survived the throw. I log on and play. I start winning. Blood is coming out of my nose and mouth, my head feels like it’s being drilled, perhaps another concussion, but I keep winning. Five in a row. Six in a row. I lose the seventh, but I have no reaction. I just play again. Another win, and another. I lose again, but I’m focused. I’m only three away. Two away. One away. My rating is 1999.

One more win and I surpass 2000 - expert level.

Just one more win.