He listened to the water's slow drip while studying the board. He used a clepsydra to time his moves. He made his move before the water ran out. Then he would write his move on a piece of paper and mail it to his friend.
While waiting for the response he would not look at pieces even though the chess board was set up on a small table in the middle of his living room with chairs on each side as if his friend was there in person playing the game. The board was the center of the room, the center of his Ptolemaic universe.
His friend used the dripping sand of an hourglass to measure his moves. He liked to make his moves at night in candlelight. It reminded him how much as changed since before there was time---before sundials, water clocks, sand clocks, pendulums and all the rest. He preferred the rhythm of the sun and moon to the ever finer subdivisions of the day and night. Still he worked like everyone else. Five days a week with the weekend off. He was well aware of the astrological origin of the week and the measurement of its seven planets leading to mathematics, science and time. He fantasized on living his life by the measure of the moon.
While his friend played with time he cleaned his clepsydra and kept his house in order, occasionally letting his dog in to romp through the house. One time the dog's tail caught the edge of the board and knocked the pieces over. Not being able to put them back in the current configuration he wrote his friend to ask for the layout.
The day after sending his letter he received a letter from his friend---too soon for a response---describing a minor earthquake which threw the books of his friend's shelves and the plates from the cupboard. Fortunately no one was hurt. But his house was a mess and the chess-board a disaster. Even a couple of the glass pieces fell on the floor and broke. He had already replaced them and was writing his friend to tell him of the event and to ask for the layout so they could continue their play.