I've saved some of the old MoC articles on my computer. Here are the ones with the poetry contest (I'll leave out the rest of the articles, since the commentary on the Linares 2001 tournament is not so relevant today):
Mig on Chess #145: Vishy and Vlady Who?
Great games, Kasparov rolls. Poetry contest!
Hungarian GM Peter Leko was the topic of a lot of conversation in the KC Playing Zone today. The youngster’s proclivity for draws, and talent for procuring them, is already legendary, and this has made him the target of some of our creative kibitzers. Yes, he is a super-talent. Yes, he is still very young. Yes, he could crush us all in a simul. Yes, he seems to be a really nice guy. But his passing up a clear-cut win against Shirov the other day only made things worse. The initial suggestion was for “leko" to replace the word “draw" in chess vernacular! “This game is going to be a leko." “Did he offer you a leko?" “But he was winning! How did he leko that position?" Etc.
Things quickly escalated, as they tend to do in the Playing Zone. Leko, only 21 years old, has yet to write a book expounding his exploits. But when he does, the helpful PZ crowd has contributed a long list of possible titles, free of charge! The books range from game collections, opening books, composition collections, and others would be in collaboration with other players. A sampling:
“My Sixty Memorable Draws"
“1001 Drawing Combinations"
“A Complete Drawing Repertoire"
“Warmth on Board" [My favorite, based on Shirov’s “Fire on Board."]
“Think like a Drawing Master"
“How to Reassess your Draws"
“Chess in the Parking Lane"
“Paying the Rent"
“Draws are my Life"
We even have a poem:
Games of no great awe
No battles, no jabs to the jaw
no positions or enemies I claw
I reach out my paw
Thanks to Paul Bailey, John Hendershot, E.L. Delmar, and everyone else who contributed. I’m open to further book title suggestions, and I’m sure Peter will appreciate the help! While I don’t think Longfellow is going to lose any sleep over that poem (especially since he’s dead), it gives me an idea. It’s been a while since we had a really tacky contest around here!
How about a copy of “Kasparov Against the World" signed by Garry Kasparov for person who sends me the best limerick or haiku about Linares 2001 and/or its participants. (Sonnets will also be accepted, but Petrarchan only please. We have to have standards.) The second place winner will receive a KC poster signed by Garry. Last place gets a Burger King napkin signed by me. In ketchup. Send your poetic contributions to email@example.com and put “Linares poem" in the subject line. The competition ends March 8!
Mig on Chess #146: Linares and... Poetry?
Everyone but Kasparov finishes last; the readers get poetic
“All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. To be natural is to be obvious, and to be obvious is to be inartistic." – Oscar Wilde
After receiving well over one hundred e-mails, several hundred poems, a few complete songs, and dozens more Leko book titles, I have just one thing to say. STOP! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE STOP! Thank you.
I carefully went over every submission and graded them on how many of the poetic virtues they possessed. Meter, rhyme, imagery, alliteration, fluidity, emotional evocation, melody, lyricism, symbolism, and subject matter (it was supposed to be about Linares 2001 and/or its participants.) After finding absolutely none of the above things in any of the 200+ submissions, I hastily revised my criteria down to “does it make me giggle."
This made things much easier. I decided to allow free-form haiku, since even the Haiku Society is down on the classic 7-5-7 form these days, originating as it did with Japanese and making little sense in English. But if your limerick lacked even minimal anapestic rhythm, it was disqualified without prejudice. Come on, people! There are members of George W. Bush’s cabinet with better rhythm than some of the limericks I received!
Choosing the winners of the book and poster signed by Garry was no easy task, but it paled in comparison to choosing the worst poem, the author of which will receive the prized BK napkin. Before we get to the major awards, here are three honorable mentions. Originality counted for as much as rhyme, and these submissions were solid tries, if lacking the inspiration of the winners. Popular topics aside from the results were Leko’s draws, the Kasparov-Shirov feud, and Anand and Kramnik no-shows.
Honorable Mention #1: John Chernoff. Imitating a classic is often a good idea, but to take the top prize it had to be an original. But this one passes the giggle test with flying colors, especially if you are familiar with Blake’s famous “The Tyger." Brilliant stuff.
With Apologies to William Blake...
Leko! Leko! Spurning fight
On the chessboard, as black (or white)
What immortal hand or eye
Could break thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant depth of plies
Blots the fire of thine eyes?
For what Queen dare he aspire?
What paroxysm doth seize his Sire?
And who bolder, & what art,
Could stir the Magyar in thy heart?
And when thine horse deigns retreat,
What Caro-Kann? & what dead scoresheet?
What Schlechter? What pawn chain?
To what purpose works thy brain?
What new angle? what dread trap
Dares your ready terror grasp?
When Kasparov lays down his spear,
And patzers spy the draw that’s near,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Leko! Leko! Taking flight
In the dullest fit of fright
What Oll or Tal in the sky
Could break thy fearful symmetry?
Honorable Mention #2: “Flaneur." Two common problems were trying to rhyme “Kasparov" and not knowing how to pronounce “Linares." (Lee-nar-ays, not Lin-ar-ees) But this one makes up for it in wit, and I’m always a sucker for Latin.
Another slam dunk at Linares:
The victory trophy is Garry’s.
But one thing, I fear,
Remains quite unclear—
Who is secundus inter pares?
Honorable Mention #3: Dennis Monokroussos. If success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, then Dennis and other senders of prodigious quantities of verse are certainly bound to succeed. Probably not in poetry, but in something! Jim Allen sent in an entire Linares report in 12 (yes, 12) limericks (and was one of the few people to use chess notation in his poems!); John Wang put Linares to music by Nirvana; Sergio Romero’s excellent piece of satire ran an entire page! But as the saying goes, size isn’t everything, and the competition was fierce. Here is the best of Dennis’s entries, a work truly in the whimsical limerick spirit, if not exactly the rhyme!
Kasparov’s chess is like magma
His eyes are like daggers that stab ya
Yet he’s near twice as old
As that player so “bold"
That his game is need of Viagra.
Second Prize and winner of a KC poster signed by Garry Kasparov: Darrell Faulkner. A good name for literature, Darrell sent in several revisions of his masterpiece. If he hadn’t left in an off-meter preposition (the “in" in the first line) it might have been good for first prize. It’s funny, on target, and completely original.
At Linares in 2001
Kasparov said "math can be fun!"
"That’s them, and here’s me--"
"One plus five over five minus one"
First Prize and winner of the book “Kasparov Against the World" signed by Garry Kasparov: Yizchak Naveh-Benjamin. This was one of the first entries, and as more came in, this is one I kept coming back to. The great Samuel Coleridge said “prose = words in their best order;—poetry = the best words in the best order." This haiku is evocative, humorous, and well-crafted. Dammit, it’s poetry!
hairy hand grasps queen
I glance up
Congratulations to the winners, consolations to the rest. It wasn’t easy, but it was fun! Thanks to everyone who participated, we must do this again sometime. You can find ALL of the submissions on a separate page, just follow the link in the right column. I’m sure you’ll find your own favorites!
But wait, what about the Burger King napkin for the author of the poem that almost made me lose my eyesight? To the work that most mutilated the poetic ideal? The verst verse?! After much soul searching and somehow forcing myself to read these monstrosities more than once, I managed to do the deed. But first, two honorable mentions.
Worst Poem, Honorable Mention #1: Mehul Gohil. He’s either a crazy genius or just crazy. You’ll find his lengthy effort on the other page, but it manages to include Jennifer Lopez (as possibly related to Ruy), drugs, vodka, mucus, and 1001 knights. It’s beautiful like a car crash.
Worst Poem, Honorable Mention #2: Miles Standish. He just had to get a something for rhyming something with “Judit" and making it work. Sort of. One gets the feeling that Miles has a lot of untapped potential, so maybe next time he’ll get the napkin!
There was a great player named Judit
Excitement? She certainly brewed it
But when glory it beckoned
She had to take equal second
Hungarian curse: "damn, I’ve screwed it!"
Worst Poem, and winner of a Burger King napkin signed by Mig in ketchup: Santhosh Matthew Paul. I think any commentary on this one could only detract from its majesty. It’s just plain difficult to read, and the ‘Catalonia-mania-India’ trifecta put it over the top! Definitely worthy of the napkin, although the competition was brutal, as you’ll see on the other page. Some are very bad, but you have to be a little good to be BAD.
A quaint little town in Catalonia,
is now consumed by chess mania.
The winner? Garry, no doubts,
while one champ in Russia pouts,
and another cools his heels in India.
I need mailing addresses for Darrell Faulkner, Santhosh Matthew Paul, and Yizchak Naveh-Benjamin! Many thanks to all the participants, you guys are great. A little scary, but great.
Before I go, I’ll share a song I spent all of five minutes composing. Poetry can be easy with some fast ‘search and replace’ action in a word processor! Bob Dylan, meet Peter Leko. (Apologies to Dylan, Leko, and Peter Svidler.)
Rainy Day Draws #12 & 35
Well, he’ll draw ya when you’re trying to be so good, He’ll draw ya just a-like he said he would. He’ll draw ya when you’re tryin’ to go home. Then he’ll draw ya when you’re there all alone. But I would not feel like such a pawn, Everybody must get drawn.
Well, he’ll draw ya when you’re walkin’ ’long the street. He’ll draw ya when you’re tryin’ to keep your seat. He’ll draw ya when you’re walkin’ on the floor. He’ll draw ya when you’re walkin’ to the door. But I would not feel like such a pawn, Everybody must get drawn.
He’ll draw ya when you’re at the breakfast table. He’ll draw ya when you are young and able. He’ll draw ya when you’re tryin’ to make a buck. He’ll draw ya and then he’ll say, "good luck." Tell ya what, I would not feel like such a pawn, Everybody must get drawn.
Well, he’ll draw you and say that it’s the end. Then he’ll draw you and then he’ll come back again. He’ll draw you when you’re riding in your car. He’ll draw you when you’re playing your guitar. Yes, but I would not feel like such a pawn, Everybody must get drawn.
Well, he’ll draw you when you walk all alone. He’ll draw you when you are walking home. He’ll draw you and then say you are brave. He’ll draw you when you are set down in your grave. But I would not feel like such a pawn, Everybody must get drawn.