The Chess Variant Pages


All is uneven, and everything is left at six and seven.
--Shakespeare, 'Richard II'
Tom, Tom, the piper's son, learned to play when he was young,
But the only tune that he could play was 'Over the Hills and Far Away.'
--unknown (1706)
The Falcon from her cairn on high cast on the rout a wondering Eye.....
E'en such a Falcon on his shield soared sable in an azure field:
The golden legend bore aright, Who checks at me to death is dight.
Then each at once his Falchion drew, each on the ground his scabbard threw,
Each looked to Sun and stream and plain, as what they ne'er might see again;
Then foot and point and eye opposed, in dubious strife they darkly closed.
--Sir Walter Scott, 'Lady of the Lake' & 'Norham Castle'
Vivien: Come to the Chess..... Thus play we first with Pawns, poor things and weak; and then the great ones come, and last the King; and now with Father Time I'm face to face. I hear a Bird walk on the doorstep. I cannot go into the bloodless land among the whimpering ghosts.
Time: Check once more, Mate thus.
W. B. Yeats, 'Time and the Witch Vivien'

Sol(F): The seven pieces and twelve Falcon forms
Of movement so well able to adjust--
Such numeric Order out of Chaos' swarms,
As risen up from cloud of gas and dust.
The calendar of days and months aligns
To the very seven bodies and twelve signs.

Luna(P): The seven hills betoken by twelve vultures
As the mythic site of Rome's (or any) founding:
All roads e'er since aught but the clash of cultures
And scarce respect unto the life surrounding.
Whilst Earth's year tends towards thirteen lunations,
These cycles seem of uneven durations.

Mars(N): It is behooving to get to the point
Of putting the Horses before the cart.
This is no premature rush to anoint,
Just further proof that 'Life imitates Art.'
The rules of engagement should quite warrant
Comeback to fashion of the Knight-errant.

Mercury(B): Searching for the relics in Game's heritage,
Finding number patterns held up as laws--
The one is so much water neath the bridge,
The other must assume proximate cause.
(For full-deck random shuffle, seven times serves--
That's far afield from say twelve cranial nerves.)

Jupiter(K): That last apposition is so absurd,
It sounds as if conceived by a computer.
Who else fails to stretch the meaning of a word
Or to pass Turing test for square shooter?
In keeping with other priorities,
Herewith seven wise men and twelve deities.

Venus(Q): Wherefore the long face and disarming critique
Of computers who are such brisk actors?
Man-machine matches hold charming mystique
And it pays to weigh all the risk factors.
The better moves in the end yet prevail,
Sure as 'cross se'en octaves twelve tones in a scale.

Saturn: By seven wonders! By Hercules' twelve tasks!
By all means, no holds barred to giving check!--
A ringside seat of tricks no one unmasks
Like dealing off the bottom of the deck,
Or far away from the lead beckoning
Return to flying by dead reckoning.

--George William Duke 2003