Friday, September 26, 2008

Dog eat doggerel

The new chess season has arrived, and shortly most of us shall be playing our first meaningful games for several months. But if, like myself, you have barely seen a chessboard over the summer, it is entirely feasible that you will have completely forgotten the rules of the game. Fear not! For those who can no longer tell a passed pawn from a frog's pawn, as Bill Hartston put it, below is a comprehensive and not at all convoluted aide memoire courtesy of the great D.B. Pritchard (right):

The KING may move a single square in any free direction;

Should he succumb the game is lost, so play with circumspection!

To crossword clues a ROOK may take - it moves across and down;

If lines are clear he changes gear and really goes to town.

The BISHOP travels cornerwise if ways are unrestricted,

His diocese but half the board - the rest is interdicted.

The QUEEN may radiate at will if she is not obstructed;

Like rook or bishop, as required, her journeys are conducted.

The KNIGHT, a problem child, extends (according to decree)

To the diametric corner of a figure two by three.

The PAWN moves only forward, and but a single square;

Is promoted on the eighth rank (assume it reaches there).

Initially, however, its functions to enhance,

The pawn retains the option of a double-square advance.

- D.B. Pritchard, The Right Way To Play Chess. (Kingswood: Right Way Books, 1950), p.19.

Never let it be said that the S&BCC blog fails to provide a public service. The challenge today, dear readers, is to extend this verse: in the comments box, please provide additional couplets in the Pritchard style explaining a) the en passant rule and b) how to castle. The most imaginative entrant wins Tom's cats, or something.


ejh said...

Do not forget the MOBILE PHONE - its ring the game will end;

So turn it off to help your team, or you will have no friends.

Anonymous said...

Your pawn once three squares from home can kill ememy pawns for fun,
Should they move two squares next to it, making out they'd moved but one.

Keeping His Majesty safe is a marvellous way to go,
So let him take his favourite rook and do a do-si-do.

I truly do hate poetry, and it clearly does hate me,
So rather than give my full name, I'll sign off as Adam B.

Martin Smith said...

Adam's beaten me to it with the fun/one rhyme; but there's lots more to castling than he conveys in his little ditty, methinks.

(a) en passant:
If a PAWN jumps two squares f'wrd on a quest for a bit of fun,
An enemy pawn can snaffle it as if it moved just one.

(b) castling:
CASTLING gets your king more safe to somewhere it can hide,
Move it two squares to the left or right and bring the rook over and in beside,
But only if the road is clear for both the bits to move,
And not out of or across a check for that would not behove;
Another thing do not forget if you're to do it right and fair,
Neither piece may have left and sneaked back to its set-up square.

Whatever the judge's final verdict, I'm content not to be awarded any of Tom's cats, thank you very much.

Chris Morgan said...

b) Two squares toward the rook the King may move in which to castle,
The rook arounds his majesty protecting him from hassle

Martin Smith said...

Nice try Chris, but I think you are praying in aid a regional accent with that castle/hassle rhyme; and I'm calling on the judge to rule on its admissability.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha. I remember this poem, because when I was about ten I told people I had written it - and they believed me!


Anonymous said...

Rage, rage against the dying light,
The terminus of strife;
RESIGNATION is to chess
What Death is to a Life

Atticus CC

Anonymous said...

Oops, I didn't read the instructions properly. Never mind. Try these too:

ZWISCHENZUG, a move to play
Between two others meant to slay

ZUGSZWANG is not meant to be kind
To players trapped within a bind;
Because whatever move they choose,
Soon realise they're bound to lose.

Atticus CC

Chris Morgan said...

'Hassle' rhymes with 'castle' with a Welsh accent Martin.