The Chess Variant Pages



Chess Morality XII: Piece-Makers

Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view
That stand upon the threshold of the new.
                    --Edmund Waller
K: Ashes! That is the beauty of it. I think it is like the Phoenix.
DB: Rising from the ashes.
K: Born of ashes.
DB: In a way, it is freedom, to be free of all that.
K: Something totally new is born.
                    --J. Krishnamurti & David Bohm, 'The Ending of Time'
Suddenly he saw that man was not alone, that in every side, piled on top of each other, flanked on every angle, stood a host. Black and white, they presented a solid chessboard of the seemingly empty cosmos, black for the nay-sayers, white for the yea-sayers, maintained by a Hand in delicate balance. "Perhaps you could tell me how many angels may stand on the point of a pin?" "Philosophically speaking, you may put as many angels on a pinhead as you want. Actually speaking..."
                    --Philip Jose Farmer, 'Sail On, Sail On'
You must become an ignorant man again
And see the Sun with an ignorant Eye
And see it clearly in the idea of it.
                    --Wallace Stevens, 'Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction'

Falcon: One sphere to another may just vanish
Without even picking up the pieces.
Mastering the moves once willed to banish
Making such games out of pure caprices,
Full-circled return to the regions foreknown
As live as a bird and dead as a stone. 

Pawn: There's a World out there, and it may be square
Or it may be round (like Columbus said).
But the end of the world, where we repair,
When the end is found of the world, is red --
Like to bright-coloured Phoenix on his pyre
Or holding other talons to the fire. 

Knight: Caissa might as well be battered by rockets
As by computers of the faster kind.
Though the resistance is scattered in pockets,
It does not require any mastermind
To tell a reaction in the offing
Carries a message that bears no scoffing. 


Bishop: That tit for tat's a game which two can play.
As strategies grow and tactics less inbred,
Roles will trade off twixt predator and prey.
How many pieces fit on a pinhead
(So that no live wit over-analyzes)
Hangs on their figures' relative sizes. 

King: The King's foursquare against mutual Draw
Agreed to flee problems any Loss bodes.
It's beseeming to cure that fatal flaw
Face to face at this cognitive crossroads:
Each game plays out until 'Winner's keepers'
Rule makes swift short shrift of 'Losers weepers.' 

Queen: Blessed piece-makers!  Perish the notions
Of not piecing together a new way,
Through which the whole show will cherish the motions,
(None would gainsay Royalty as the mainstay.)
Each circumscribed by movements befitting
The rank and file on which one's first sitting. 

Rook: No more than a classical quandary
No less than the question of survival,
Having reached a delicate boundary
One way out should be path of arrival.
(Of what yet heard from the seven chosen,
This accolade makes an even dozen.)

George William Duke 2003


Written by George William Duke.
WWW page created: October 8th, 2003.