SOMERVILLE, NJ - It was an unusual start to a chess match, a game of cat-and-mouse that unfolded away from the board - a 30-minute pursuit of the challenger by his mentor who had taught him the game as a youngster in elementary school more than 20 years ago.
Today,they are colleagues, both members of the Borough Council.
Dennis Sullivan, the mentor, is a retired Somerville teacher who has been a member of the governing body for 24 years. He had challenged his former student, Fred Wied V, to a chess match during a Borough Council meeting last month.
Wied was a fourth-grader in Sullivan’s class at the Van Derveer School when he was taught his first moves in Sullivan’s after-school chess club.
The challenge match was finally realized Tuesday night at the chess table in a grove of trees at Carol Pager Park during the borough’s annual National Night Out celebration sponsored by the Somerville Police Department.
But not before Sullivan had to work his way through the crowd to track down Wied.
“He’s going to have to find me,” Wied said Tuesday night, five minutes after the match was supposed to have begun.
Sullivan, who had been looking for Wied, found him at the dunk tank where he was getting soaked each time an accurate throw depressed the bullseye target.
Sullivan waited impatiently as Wied took the plunge into the tank a few times, signaling by hand that it was time to play chess.
Wied finally climbed out of the tank, and accompanied by some friends, made his way through the crowd on his way to accept Sullivan’s challenge, but not before he stopped for an interview on ‘Ville TV.
Sullivan stood by, eager to begin the long-awaited match.
With the interview completed, mentor and student walked side-by-side to sit down at the chess board, where a few people had gathered to observe the match.
It was game on, with Wied making the first move.