Aaron Tucker has created this amazing site, Chessbard which translates chess games into poetry. You can play classic games, play a game against a chessbot, or modify games. The site then 'translates' the game into poems: both a White poem and a Black poem. Aaron has also written an essay about the project and its development.
I was delighted to be able to contribute to the site. I created some poems (by modifying a classic game) and wrote a discussion about what I did and about chess in general. Read it here.
And while you're thinking about chess, definitely check out the very lovely, Calvino-Chess Dictionary by Craig Conley. You can buy the book or read it online. I'd recommend the book!
has said that "The real contest is how we play against ourselves. There's always that other side of each of us, pulling us down."
The caption of our illustration reads, "He was annihilated every game." It's from A Ramble Round the Globe
by Baron Dewar, 1894.
"Watching the skittle players," from In the Ardennes
by Katharine Sarah Macquoid, 1881.
Interestingly, we sent this image to a games aficionado, but he wasn't convinced that the pig was truly spectating skittles players. He felt that the pig's expression was inscrutable, and the so-called skittle players are out-of-frame. Yet the caption tells us what we're seeing; "case closed" as far as we're concerned. To paraphrase René Magritte, this is not a pig, anyway. If we can't roll with it, we'll never knock down any pins.
This curious set of cards appears in Puck
magazine, 1878. The symbols (left to right, top to bottom):
- Maiden (a love interest)
- Gaslight (burned until exceedingly late at night)
- Darkness (i.e. the gaslight after being put out) and dreaming
- Heart (naive love; woefulness)
- Hand sign (a "terrible oath," i.e. a reckless promise)
- Hand sign (a second "terrible oath")
- Dust (the foot of someone off to parts unknown)
- Blank (absence, emptiness)
- Clock ("the early and proper hour")
The deck also includes a Gentleman card, but it wasn't printed. The explanation: "We don't give his portrait, 'cause he had red hair and it might hurt the paper."
(The following is our Guest Blog post for DeepFun.com)
The classic hand game of Rock-Paper-Scissors has a shadow side — quite literally. It’s played partially in the dark. Each move casts shadows on the wall. And the rules are reversed to whimsical results.
- a blank wall – a canvas for shadow-casting
- a lamp easily turned off and on (the sole illumination in the room)
- two handy players
- one scorekeeper/storyteller (scorekeeping is optional, a player may act as scorekeeper, especially if the lamp has a foot-operated switch)
- spectators (occupancy not to exceed fire marshall’s restrictions, of course) (also optional)
When the scorekeeper initiates darkness, each player opaquely forms one of three hand gestures in front of the lamp. At the count of three, the scorekeeper lets there be light, and the gesticulative shadows are writ large on the wall.
The so-called Rock is actually a Paperweight.
The so-called Paper is actually a Paper Doll (a butterfly, a bunny, a goat, or any other hand shadow figure the player desires)
The so-called Scissors are still cutting blades, but let’s call them Snippers just to be different.
|Traditional Game||Shadow Game|
|Paper covers the Rock||Paperweight sensibly covers the Paper Doll and the Paperweight wins.|
|Scissors cut the Paper||Paper Doll is born of the Snippers and the Paper Doll wins.|
|Rock crushes the Scissors||Paperweight *sharpens* the Snippers and the Snippers win.|
As a mnemonic, Snippers *need* to be sharp in order to fulfill their destiny, Paper Dolls *need* to be snipped in order to take shape and fulfill their destiny, and Paperweights *need* to rest upon Paper Dolls because everyone requires downtime to flatten out, relax, and recharge so as to fulfill their destinies.
There are three possible ties. In the traditional game, these are simply ignored. In the Shadow Game, these are celebrated as follows:
|Both players throw||Both players act out|
|Snippers||Running with scissors|
|Paper Doll||The scorekeeper becomes a storyteller when two Paper Dolls grace the wall and interact as a shadow-puppetshow ensues|
The following passage from Robert Irwin's astonishingly brilliant The Arabian Nightmare
, in which a character traverses a chessboard-like Cairo, recalls our own manual on using a game of chess to construct a story: If A Chessman Were A Word: A Chess-Calvino Dictionary
Crossing the open spaces of the city was like moving across a chess board, chill and dark in the shadows, still brilliantly warm in the places the sun could reach. He was crossing a dark square now near the Bab al-Luq, where the rich merchants' houses were, when he saw a face, high up in the dark shadows of an upper-storey casement, staring down at him. It was a woman's face, round and plump and shining silver as if it was the moon.
Deliciously, the character in Irwin's novel is about to confront a knight!
Here's a game of "What am I?"
- I am an arrogant slap in the face from across the room.
- I am an ethereal corset trapping everyone in the same unnatural shape.
- I am a lazy and inelegant concession to fashionable ego.
- I am too often a substitute for true allure and style.
- I am an opaque shell concealing everything—revealing nothing.
- I am a childish masque hiding the timid and unimaginative.
What am I?Answer: Perfume
(The answer is in black text on the black background. Highlight it to view.)
These clues are courtesy of Christopher Brosius
Here's one of Nabokov
's methods for a secret code. Note the charming detail that "one-letter words
For their correspondence in the first period of separation, Van and Ada had invented a code ... One-letter words remained undisguised. In any longer word each letter was replaced by the one succeeding it in the alphabet at such an ordinal point–second, third, fourth, and so forth–which corresponded to the number of letters in that word. Thus "love", a four-letter word, became "pszi" ("p" being the fourth letter after "l" in the alphabetic series, "s" the fourth after "o" et cetera), whilst, say, "lovely" (in which the longer stretch made it necessary, in two instances, to resume the alphabet after exhausting it) became "ruBkrE", where the letters overflowing into the new alphabetic series were capitalized.
—V. Nabokov, Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle
Via Gretel und Hänsel
Going through some old files, we rediscovered our rough notes for a card game we devised several years ago. Suggestions for improvements are welcome.
Elements is a card game for 2 players that involves sketching a map throughout. The object of the game is to win all the cards. At the end, both players will have created their own map of a new world they have created out of combined elements.
Required materials: deck of element cards, two pieces of blank paper, pencils (or crayons, markers, and so on).
The cards are divided into 7 suits (earth, air, space, fire, water, metal, wood), according to the sacred elements recognized in ancient belief systems from around the world. Each element card is numbered from 1 to 10. Higher numbers indicate stronger forces (i.e. influences, powers) associated with that element, and lower numbers indicate weaker forces.
Shuffle the deck. Deal out all the cards, so that each player has half of the deck. Players do not look at their cards, but keep them in a stack face down.
Players simultaneously turn their top cards face up and put them on the table. Whoever turns the higher card takes both cards, determines the cards' outcome according to the key below, adds the cards to his own discard pile, and quickly sketches the outcome to his map. Then both players turn up their next card and so on.
If the turned up cards are equal, there is a stalemate and each player adds his own card to his own stalemate pile.
The game continues until one player has the majority of cards in his discard pile and wins. However, both players will end up with a map of a new world.
Regarding the map, it is recommended that each player begin by dividing the blank page into three equal sections with three horizontal lines. The upper section will represent the Upper World or sky, the middle section will represent the Middle World or land, and the lower section will represent the Underworld or underground.
earth / earth (stalemate)
earth / air mountaintop
earth / space cavern
earth / fire crystal formations
earth / water mudslide
earth / metal buried treasure
earth / wood planted seed
air / earth dust cloud
air / air (stalemate)
air / space gusting wind
air / fire hot air balloon
air / water cloud
air / metal windmill
air / wood fallen tree
space / earth moon
space / air tornado
space / space (stalemate)
space / fire shooting star
space / water rainbow
space / metal asteroid
space / wood hollow tree
fire / earth volcano
fire / air fireball
fire / space aurora
fire / fire (stalemate)
fire / water steam plume
fire / metal forge
fire / wood smoldering ashes
water / earth ocean
water / air rainstorm
water / space underwater grotto
water / fire geyser
water / water (stalemate)
water / metal wishing well
water / wood shipwreck
metal / earth bridge
metal / air airplane
metal / space meteor
metal / fire torch
metal / water chalice
metal / metal (stalemate)
metal / wood axe
wood / earth forest
wood / air tall tree
wood / space crate
wood / fire sacrificial pyre
wood / water reeds
wood / metal vine-covered statue
wood / wood (stalemate)
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Original Content Copyright © 2014 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.