Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Chess Set

  • Armin Hamrah ’23

Armin joins Adrian de Vernou as our second contributor to the Literature column as he is hoping to continue bringing forth chess-themed poetry every week. Today’s piece is inspired by Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”

Among five half dozens,   

The only sovereign protection

Were the vulnerable pawns.


Defending twins

Diagonally having one another’s backs

True brotherly love

Check this L

Take the L


An interesting combo,

says the optimist.

An impossible combo,

says the pessimist.

Hopeless after an early blunder,

Yet a hero in the endgame’s thunder.


Nonexisting chemistry,

Prone to a simple zugzwang

That even patzers can perform.


My mind is perplexed,

In the millions of potential combinations

A blocked block, 42

Thousands of which resulting in

an inevitable checkmate


Division of the queen, 

but powerless alone

Strength in numbers,

GMs might say.

The female sovereign,

Rare and majestic.

All in one,

and one for all.


A very rare meeting,

or a powerful pawn.

For obtaining a pawn promotion,

requires intense focus


The royal pyramid

Embodying the encomienda

Pawns at the queen’s forefront

Off course, of course


The pawns have spoken,

one is not enough.

The pawns have spoken,

Fianchettos are enough

Protected early,

yet all game is endgame

Protects defeat,

yet trapped and guillotined.

Image Source:

“Chess on the Dot” by Joshua Chao is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

By admin

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