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Tully’s chess pieces are chattering, employing a distributed algorithm based on lines of sight that outperforms holistic strategies by a sharp margin. When the pawns decide they glow; routes pulse with underboard LEDs.

His opponent sweats, checking a battered laptop and his combover. Last-gen tech. The early stages of this tournament have already exhausted Tully’s pity. If you don’t pay to play, what are you really losing?

Checkmate. Tully’s opponent scowls and slams his half of the board into a satchel.

“It’s a poor carpenter who blames his tools,” chides Tully.

“And which of those,” says his opponent, “are you?”