FimFiction Link - Short ID: 513493/the-princesses-gambit
Published: Mar '22
'The Princesses Gambit' is a three thousand and six hundred word oneshot. Rarity and Twilight are playing chess and reminiscing over the past.
This story caught my attention due to the cover art which reminded me of another fic about Twilight playing a game of chess which I quite enjoyed titled 'A Nice Game of Chess.' Compared to that this fic falls short, however, on its own merits, it's definitely not the worst story I've read. I did really enjoy the melodrama the author presents Rarity with, she's just as over the top as she is in the show and it gives the story a few comedic moments despite it being largely a somber fic. Twilight herself has a few nice lines as well, though it is obvious that she's really just there to act as a wall for Rarity to bounce her story off of. Also, though the author doesn't go very far with it, I have to commend that he tried to integrate Rarity getting her cutie mark into the story and thus make the fic canon compatible.
The events in the past are at the same time the fic's strongest and weakest parts. On one hand the old stallion is a likeable character and filly-Rarity's interactions with him are adorable. On the other, however, you can tell how this story will go down from the moment he appears. Don't get me wrong, obviously all fiction is at least partly derivative, but this fic plays everything way too safely. Because of this and the fic's short length I simply didn't feel as emotionally invested as I could have. He teaches her chess. They play until Rarity becomes good. Years pass. The old stallion becomes sick and plays one last game with her on the day he dies, it's a story archetype we've all seen far too many times in this exact format. Also, while young Rarity does mostly act like a foal, she begins to talk like her usual self during the last flashback of the fic, which I found pretty weird. I get what the author was going for, but originating her calling other ponies "Darling" from this specific event felt quite contrived and took away from the scene's solemness.
The final scene, however, as predictable as it was, did somewhat alleviate the disinterest I've felt. Even if I saw it from a mile away, it was still a nice resolution to the story and a good ending to a sort of "character arc."
Overall: 6/10 I'm giving this story a six, because Rarity's and Twilight's interactions are pretty enjoyable and because that last scene gave me some warm feelings, however, the rest didn't do much for me and it likely wouldn't for you either, unless you've never seen an "old man plays chess with a kid"-type story before.