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.

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