I remember the end of the game well.
I was confident. Even I could see the position was very good for Black. There didn’t seem to be anything sensible for White to do and better yet he had next to no time for the eight moves left before the first time control. As White paused for thought, and just as I was wondering if he would resign or try to struggle on with something like Rf4, I noticed his flag had fallen.
“Time” I said softly not wanting to disturb the games going on around us.
My opponent continued to stare at the board.
“Time” I repeated, slightly louder, thinking he hadn’t heard me the first time.
Still no response.
“You’ve lost on time mate”, louder still while tapping the clock for emphasis.
Even this failed to elicit any reaction whatsoever. He didn’t stop the clock, didn’t offer his hand, didn’t look up, didn’t even blink. He just continued to sit there eyes cast down not acknowledging either me or the situation in any way.
I have to admit I was a little thrown at this point. Over the years I've had a few strange reactions from opponents when they've lost - I even had one guy who responded to losing a piece by standing up and walking out of Golden Lane without pausing to stop the clock or say anything either to me or anybody else - but never have I experienced somebody outright refusing to accept that they've been beaten.
Slightly taken aback I wandered off to inform my captain I’d won the game. After spending a few minutes checking how my team mates had got on I returned to the board to find my opponent shuffling pieces around. Seeing he was no longer catatonic with the trauma of defeat I punted a few words of conversation. I recognised his face but couldn’t place him and wanted to satisfy my curiosity.
“Have we played before?” I asked.
Not exactly the kind of response that will earn you a raconteur’s reputation but at least I knew he’d regained the power of speech. I tried again.
“I thought we’d played last year. Do you play the Pirc?”
A man of few words you might think.
“There must be somebody else around who looks just like you.”
And that was that.
Mulling over this exchange on my journey home I resolved to check my growing conviction that we had indeed previously crossed pawns. As it turned out it didn't take long to track down the score sheet of the game we’d played ten months earlier.
The game had gone pretty much as I’d remembered it. I was White and the game began 1. Nf3 d6, 2. d4 Nf6, 3. Nc3 g6, 4. e4 Bg7,
I remembered getting a very comfortable position before blundering a piece for a couple of pawns and I remembered being ground down remorselessly without the slightest hint of any counter chances.
I also remembered the amicable conversation we had after the game finished.