Last Sunday, April 16, at 7 p.m., the Quest editorial board met with the intent to demand the resignation of editor Cass Biles due to recent complications concerning her mental condition. However, Biles, upon being called to the meeting, immediately announced her resignation and a vote did not commence.”It was not a meeting called lightly,” editor Declan Bradley recounts, “we were all at our limits.”
The current editors stated that the disruption began shortly after winter break, and editor Anie Kotha mentioned that she believes it may have been triggered by comments from her ENG 201 professor Michael Faletra, who commented that the Quest’s chess puzzles, a column written by Biles, were “too easy.” This comment, Kotha recounts, was reflective of a larger group of criticism against the chess puzzles, “Cass kept mixing up her files, and it resulted in the wrong images or instructions being uploaded…the backlash seemed to really mess with her.” Even with this added stress however, Biles’ behavior was unpredictable and shocking. Editor Madeleine Voth noted that she would frequently hear Biles muttering under her breath, and at one point she heard Biles say “I’ll show them a hard puzzle…a REAL hard one alright…I’ll make them wish they had never learned chess.” Voth stated that this “kinda like freaked me out,” and these unnerving behaviors only worsened with Biles’ condition.
On March 8 at 5 p.m., layout editor Chloe Hsy approached the Student Publications Office (SPO) for the Quest’s weekly editing night. Upon entering the office, she witnessed the typically tidy Quest room in disarray. “The tables had been toppled over…past issues of the Quest were pulled out and on the floor, and Cass was frantically scribbling chess notation all over them with a sharpie…when I asked her why, she said there was no other paper for her to take notes on.” Biles had also seemed to surround herself with chess boards in an “unsettling and cultish way,” as remarked by Hsy. “She kept whispering, ‘I have to improve my puzzle rating’” over and over again,” Hsy states. Soon, the other editors joined Hsy in the SPO, and managed to calm Biles down with a 100 mg intravenous shot of ketamine hydrochloride. “It really does the trick” Kotha recounts, “We’ve started keeping Ketlar on hand after Cass joined for situations like this.”
Luckily, since the Quest had also been storing “at least 10 canisters,” of NO2 gas at a time, the extra ketamine stockpiles were “no biggie,” as stated by Bradley.
Unfortunately, this method proved to be ineffective long-term at curing Biles of her chess condition, and her neuroticism only worsened. Kotha recounts that at 8:30 p.m. on March 29, during editing night, Biles suddenly insisted that all the editors begin watching The Queen’s Gambit, and began playing the first episode on the SPO’s projector. “Every time someone tried to talk she would get really upset, and would tell everyone to shut up so we could all watch the show,” Hsy states, noting that Biles’ instability seemed to increase with the night. At approximately 10:30 p.m., and around halfway through the third episode, this instability came to a peak, with Biles physically assaulting a fellow editor. Hsy states that, “Madeleine had just turned to me to ask a question, but Cass had somehow managed to pick up the ‘sex couch’, while Declan was still on it, and throw it at her.” Kotha added that she heard Cass scream about “not respecting Anya Taylor Joy” before breaking down into sobs. “It was just so absurd, I couldn’t believe what was happening before my eyes,” Hsy states, “She just suddenly acquired superhuman strength.” Luckily, due to the couch’s heavy cushioning, Voth sustained limited damages, but remains flabbergasted by the event. “At first I heard this guttural cry, and then the couch collided with my chest. Thank god she missed my head,” Voth states. Other members of the Quest were outraged, “That was just completely out of line.” Bradley states, “No excuse. You can’t throw the sex couch. It’s the sex couch. It’s sacred.”
The final straw, however, was revealed last Thursday, April 13, three days before Biles’ resignation. Quest Signator Voth states that while reviewing the Qudget, she realized that $90 of funding had mysteriously disappeared. Upon further review, The Quest’s P-card appeared to have been used on the website “Chessly.com”.
This website, which is organized by famous chess Youtube and Twitch content creator Levy Rozman aka “GothamChess,” promised its plus members exclusive access to lesson plans and individualized chess resources in exchange for a subscription of $89.99 every 12 months.
Upon confrontation, Biles was initially defensive, denying any sort of purchase. With further pressure by the editors however, admitted to the purchase, at first claiming it a necessary expense for the wellbeing of the newspaper, before eventually confessing to full-on embezzlement. “With those simple courses I could finally break the 1000 mark rating on Chess.com,” Biles lamented.
“I don’t know what that means,” Voth replied.
While the expulsion of Biles from The Quest was necessary, the current editorial board expressed some level of regret. “The worst part,” Kotha stated, “is that I still don’t know how to play chess. Cass would start every editors’ meeting teaching us the rules, and I always just played sudoku on my computer.” Bradley expressed a similar sentiment: “I felt really bad about it honestly, she was always super enthused about teaching us, but we just never got it. One time, when she was on a particularly big rant, we put her in the corner and stuck a bag on her head. She still talked through the whole thing, but we all had our headphones so it was mostly manageable.”
Biles will be taking the next semester off to attend a medical institution in Cork, Ireland, and is currently scheduled for a six-week intensive rehabilitation program for chess addicts. She states that, “I am truly sorry for my actions. Living this kind of life, it’s hard. It’s hard for my friends, it’s hard for my family, and it’s hard for those I love. I’ve damaged my relationships with those I care about, and for that, I am truly regretful.” She states that her condition, “just isn’t sustainable. It’s always one more puzzle, one more ten-minute game, anything to get that little rating boost.” She states that, “to all those who are struggling with their relationship with chess, remember the people who really matter in life. And remember that they, like most people, do not give a shit about chess.”