A Game of Chess

With an opening gambit, lines learned from a song,
—Let your puny body lie down lie down,
he unpins her frock; but before too long,
her blockade he encounters:
—The lady’s not in the mood tonight, and walks away.
What a fool’s mate! Checked like that.
What would the boys at the club say?
The board relaid over drinks, he assaults again.
—You look wonderful tonight, my sweet Caïssa.
A calculated book move, this time he can’t lose,
an early en passant, he takes advantage, presses on —
she’s quite a capture. With an exchange of moves
he controls the centre, a kiss on her shoulder, a caress of a bust,
a leg over hers, a cramping emotional move if ever —
what a clever pin, what a clever fella!
But then oh! what a blunder; no defence is required,
this isn’t the endgame he desires.
His bishop’s quite sozzled, in no mood for encounter —
what an epaulette mate, what a patzer.

© 2017 The Wasted Love Song
Image: Chess 4 by Laury Rouzé / CC BY

NaPoWriMo, Day Twenty: ‘write a poem that incorporates the vocabulary and imagery of a specific sport or game’.

This takes inspiration from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land where chess is seen as an analogy for unromantic love and sex.


Blockade: A strategic placement of a minor piece directly in front of an enemy pawn.
Blunder: A very bad move, an oversight.
Book move: An opening move found in standard reference books on opening theory.
Bust: Colloquial term for a refutation of an opening.
Caïssa: The goddess of chess.
Capture: To remove the opponent’s piece from the board.
Centre: The four squares in the middle of the board.
Check: A direct attack on the king by an enemy.
Cramped: A position with limited mobility.
Emotional move: A suboptimal forcing move played with the intent of seizing initiative at any cost.
En passant: French for: ‘in the act of passing’; a rule that allows a pawn that has just advanced two squares to be captured by an enemy pawn.
Endgame: The stage of the game when there are few pieces left on the board.
Epaulette mate: A checkmate position where the king is blocked on both sides by his own rooks.
Fool’s mate: The shortest possible chess game ending in mate.
Gambit: A sacrifice (usually of a pawn) used to gain an early advantage in space or time in the opening.
Lady: Slang for queen.
Patzer: A weak chess player.
Pin: A piece that cannot move.
Unpinning: The act of breaking a pin by interposing a second piece between the attacker and the target.

‘Let your puny body lie down lie down’ – The Smiths, ‘Stretch out and Wait’
‘You look wonderful tonight’ – Eric Clapton, ‘Wonderful Tonight’


6 Replies to “A Game of Chess”

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