Saturday, January 9, 2010

SESTINA SATURDAY: A Duffer's Grasp Of Chess

Sonneteer's note: just to keep on challenging myself I've gotten the crack-brained idea to attempt a sestina a week in 2010 in addition to continuing with a sonnet a day. I make no promises and have made no firm resolution. We'll just have to see!

An early menace may come from a knight.
The canny player puts a well-placed pawn
Athwart, to drive him off, perhaps a priest
May close to him diagonals. The rook
Stays home most games 'till late and lets the queen
Rampage a bit in defense of the king.

Oh, let not stray your sights, though, from the king.
Yes, gladly you may stalk him with a knight
And subterfuge. Or bully with your queen;
He'll run like a white rabbit. But a pawn,
If kept alive in numbers, with a rook
Or two can make the kill without a priest.

I've one dear friend who ill-esteems the priest,
Dislikes the zigzags, mayhap (and his king
Gets caught betimes 'twixt scissor blades); the rook
He strives to bring out soon. Meanwhile his knight
Sneaks all about. I chase it with a pawn,
Distracted, till at last it rapes my queen.

When starting out I liked to use the queen
More as a bugaboo than threat. The priest
I'd set on outer files; I'd treat a pawn
As cannon-fodder, and castle my king
With haste unseemly, poorly use the knight
To try and seize the center; and the rook?

He'd sit there, fat and ready, my poor rook
To fall before the weakest siege. My queen
I'd tend to swap with his quite soon. His knight --
I've learned to fear his knight. Many a priest
Has fallen to his sneaky ways. My king,
Oft forced to move ere I would, like a pawn.

How best to start a game? To move a pawn
Right up into the center? Free a rook,
A partially cleared file for it? The king
One leaves alone of course; his queen
Close by his side will guard him, sure. The priest?
O fianchetto, take control! The knight?

He's in the way of castling. Knight and pawn
Go forth at first, right? Then the priest and rook
Can take command. No: lose the queen, then king.


  1. i dig this, probably because i was a chess geek in primary school. well done.

  2. You amaze me, everytime. Thanks!


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