The Chess Variant Pages



Chess Morality V: The System

The bodyes sevene eek, lo! hem heere anoon:
Sol gold is, and Luna silver we threpe,
Mars iren, Mercurie quyksilver we clepe,
Saturnus leed and Juppiter is tyn,
And Venus coper, by my fader kyn!
--Geoffrey Chaucer, 'The Canon's
Yeoman's Tale'

Mercury the Bishop, Venus the Queen
Mars Knight, Saturn Rook, Jupiter the King--
Caissa's seeming motions like as orbits seen,
The playing field on Earth, each trailing ring
About Sol shapes Sun Falcon's hidden paths,
Bodies streaming equal timed and spaced swaths.

Falcon: Whenas the matter settles and air clears,
A species of necessity reclaims
A golden echo rapture of the spheres,
Especial stations in the cosmic games,
Like as a standing wave creates a field
Or as a cell membrane acts like a shield.

Pawn: A saboteur! A spanner in the works!
Unlike the pathways to the higher matter
Sustained in ancient stars, Promotion lurks
As if upon a Lunar silver platter
Close at hand, a change of phase played fast and loose
To one of four converts, should Pawn traduce.

Knight: Knight or Dame, Horse or Springer any name
Ironclad the alibi and stir-up
Of charges, lame excuses to inflame
So as to raise the hackles and the fur up.
If worlds collide and cooler heads prevail,
Behold the Horses move beyond the pale.

Bishop: Betrusted in the strictest confidence:
Square a circle or trisect an angle
Solely by instruments of Providence,
As readily as it were to wrangle
Out of resigning to paired Bishops who'll
Ensure bare King played out must be the Fool.

King: Oz's Tinman and Wonderland's Cat's grin--
Absurd the lines and squares, the missing parts make.
Whoso's checkmated cries, 'Gone with the win,'
Pretense of respect to 'art for art's sake.'
Well may the selfsame openings pertain
Until Kingdom come to draw the curtain.

Queen: Notions some lines are too overrefined,
Rumors afloat of impending demise
Hope for new tactics as yet undefined,
Copper coins convert to dollars nowise
Good compensation for exchange by right--
Is it a thief or two ships in the night?

Rook: Linear motion, one belated footnote
To the leaden echo reality
A-riding out the storm which rocks the Boat--
Imposter of the strict neutrality,
For whileas acids balance with a base,
Reaction rates run one way to displace.

George William Duke
January 2002


Written by George William Duke
WWW page created: September 21, 2001.