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® Benjamín Juárez

I wanna know who's wiping me off. Jesus. Who put that there?

I was thinking this morning, I swear to God we would be rehearsing, something dumb would happen, or weird and you would just go, "Well, that was interesting." And the wheels would start to turn.

That's how you play chess. He makes a move and you go, "That's interesting. Interesting."

I used to play chess. When I was in the Army I played. I was unbeatable. I was very, very good at it. With chess, there's ratings. And chess master is about 2100. And I was playing a computer on a 2100 level.


So I had been playing that machine for weeks and then I happened to be on Hollywood Boulevard standing on the corner and I saw this man, tattered, dirty. He was a street person. And he had a chess set there to play. And I said, "You play chess?" He says, "I do, I do."

-But it's a homeless guy.
-It's a homeless guy.

I said, "I'll tell you what, I'll play you a game." He goes, "I'll play you two games. I beat you two times, you can't play me no more." Puts out his hands, you know, to see who's gonna go first. Black, white. I pick. I'm white. That means I have the first move. I already have the advantage.

-Are you sitting on the sidewalk?
-I'm on the sidewalk.

-I'm down here like this.

So I move my piece out, he moves his piece out very quickly. I said, "Oh, he stops that move." So I move a knight out, he moves out the pawn. He moves out the bishop, in two minutes he's moving. He's got me in a defense, boom, checkmate. I'm like, "Whoa." He checkmated me in two minutes. Nobody has ever checkmated me in two minutes. Nobody. Not even the machine... ...can checkmate me in two minutes. But this time I said, "Okay, let's play. Let's play chess." He makes me pick. I go first again. Okay. I lean in. He moves out his knight, I move my bishop... ...checkmate! Faster than the first time. Now he's putting his stuff away and I'm going, "Let's play again." He goes, "No, no, no. I beat you two times, you can't play me no more." I'm walking down-- Following the guy down the street... ...going, "Come on, let's play." He's going, "No, no, you leave me alone." I'm going, "Come on, let's just play another game, come on." He wouldn't play me. I went home, I called a friend who's a professional chess player. I said, "Leon, I played a guy on the street... ...who beat me twice." He goes, "Yeah, you played a savant. When I'm in tournament in a city, I look for those guys, to play those guys." I say, "You beat them?" He goes, "Never."


I always thought, "Can you get one of those guys in a tournament?" Imagine. He says, "You can't hold them in place. They're crazy, but unbeatable." So he could really beat the greatest chess player in the world. Possi-- Most likely. He told me at the beginning. "I beat you two times, that's it. We don't play anymore. You can't play me anymore."

Why would he set a rule like that?

Because he's done it over and over again and he doesn't have a lot of time to be fooling around with somebody he can beat so easily. That's probably why. What was it that he was able to do so well that he could win so fast? He saw the moves before they took place. This is where it gets a bit metaphysical. Perhaps you have to be ultimately crazy or dislodged from the kind of reality that we're all adjusting to. There are other kinds of realities, other kinds of zones to inhabit.


Great artists have inhabited zones and then it becomes a new paradigm. People go, "Wow, we hadn't thought about going there."

I invented a chess board. I wanted to play it in the round. So you're, like, on the north and the south pole... ...and your pieces, so you can play in all directions. That's when I had to stop playing chess.

I remember when we were putting the show together.

First thing I said when they said, "Well, how about Michael Richards?"

I went, "Is he available? Is Michael Richards available?"

You had to audition with two other guys for the network.

Two? You brought me back three times.

There was a whole room of different people.

Yeah, but here's like chess. I knew I was gonna get the part.

I knew it on the first time I met you.

-I knew it. I never said a thing.

And I never said it to you. I knew when I started reading with you, they can't pass that up. You just feel the hand of the universe going, "You two are gonna be together." I could've played Kramer for the rest of my life.