Irresponsible Chess Poetry Mediums

Irresponsible Mediums: The Chess Games of Marcel Duchamp

by Aaron Tucker, published by Book Thug of Toronto (, (Not to be confused with the bookstore with my all time favorite name, BookThugNation, which “…is an used bookstore and community space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.”

is a small volume of poems created by a computer program, Chess Bard, created by the author. The only redeeming thing found in the book is the introduction by Jennifer Shahade,

and the only THREE games by Duchamp published. There are EIGHTY poems. There is enough blank space to include almost every Chess game played by Marcel Duchamp in his life!

“All artists are not chess players – all chess players are artists.” – Marcel Duchamp

Jennifer begins her introduction with, “In my study of Marcel Duchamp’s chess games and career, I am often struck by his statement that “Beauty in chess is closer to beauty in poetry; the chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thought; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chessboard, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem.” Duchamp’s understanding that visualization is at the centre of chess explains to me how he reached chess mastery at nearly 40 years old, a relatively advanced age to become fluent in chess patterns. In teaching adult students chess, this visual aspect is often the hardest-because they are so anxious for verbal cues and shortcuts.”

Also included in the introduction is her (in)famous picture sitting across from a tattooed naked man.

This one was left out of the book:

Jennifer writes about “blindfold” Chess:

“In the fall of 2015, I went to Toronto to play my first-ever public blindfold game with Aaron Tucker, as an experiment for this project. The blindfold game also generated a poem. I’d given hundreds of simultaneous chess exhibitions called and talks, but had firmly resisted on of the most crowd-pleasing of chess spectacles, the “blindfold.” I never enjoyed the mental exertion, which literally induces headaches. It never seemed like an efficient way to improve general chess strength.”

Contrast this with an article at Chessbase, Learning to play blindfold with Fritz 16 by Albert Silver on 1/20/2018, which begins, “The overriding theme of Fritz 16’s new functions is chess improvement, and among them is a special feature for blindfold chess that can help you refine your visualization skills like no other.”

Oh really? Jennifer begs to differ. Reading on one finds:

A valuable training technique

“On the surface the blindfold chess feature in Fritz 16 could be dismissed as just a curiosity, or as a function that is beyond your current skillset. Whatever the case, this would be a serious mistake, since used properly it could become one of your key training tools, even if you can barely play a few moves without seeing before you get lost. In fact, especially if that is the case!” (

That last sentence caused me to recall a grammar school teacher who said that because of my writing I alone had caused her to use “several” red ink pens that year. Knowing this guy is writing for a living would, no doubt, make her turn over in the grave…

The book begins with this game:

“Playing White vs Mario Schroeder (New York, 1922)

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Nbd7 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Qb3 c6 7. e4 Qb6 8.
Qxb6 Nxb6 9. e5 Ne4 10. Bd3 Bb4 11. Bd2 Nxd2 12. Nxd2 O-O 13. f4 Bd7 14. O-O c5
15. a3 cxd4 16. axb4 dxc3 17. bxc3 Rac8 18. Rfc1 Na4 19. c4 Nb2 20. Be2 Nxc4
21. Nxc4 dxc4 22. Rxa7 c3 23. Rxb7 Bf5 24. g4 Be4 25. Rd7 f5 26. Rd4 c2 27.
Bc4+ Kh8 28. Bb3 Rfd8 29. Rxd8+ Rxd8 30. Bxc2 Rc8 31. e6 Rxc2 32. Rd1 Rc8 33.
e7 Re8 34. b5 Kg8 35. Rd8 Kf7 36. gxf5 Rxe7 37. Kf2 Rb7 38. Rd4 Bxf5 39. Rb4
Rb6 40. Ke3 Bd7 41. Kd4 Rxb5 0-1

After this game was put into the “Chess Bard” the program ejected this “gem.”

machine sealed sand or
resistance, any blurred sketch, instant
questions deserted cell or cord

single cast or broken sand
warily measures some seashell

single silicon gobbles within
the reassemblage, dormouse beside coherence

each speed the purposeful decomposition
gobbles beside the cloudy redundancy

I cannot make this up. The Chess Bard did…

“Playing Black vs Henri Weenink (The Hague, 1928)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Bd3 Nc6 5. c3 Nf6 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bf4 e6 8. Nf3
Bd6 9. Bxd6 Qxd6 10. O-O O-O 11. Re1 Bd7 12. Nbd2 Na5 13. Ne5 b5 14. b4 Nc4 15.
Ndxc4 dxc4 16. Bc2 a5 17. a3 Ra7 18. Re3 axb4 19. axb4 Rfa8 20. Rc1 Bc8 21. Rg3
Bb7 22. Ng4 Qf4 23. Nxf6+ Qxf6 24. Bb1 Kf8 25. Qh5 Ra1 26. Qd1 Qf4 27. Rg4 Qd6
28. Rg3 Bd5 29. Qg4 g6 1/2-1/2

Imagine that centre centers hooded diagonal!

personable estimate, some clogged radar
negates and blesses some fork

the knight, verbose can or
insult fits below evolution or
proud cog lithely reproduces

I once lost a game due to that centre centers hooded diagonal! Dammit!

The last game given in the book:

Playing Black vs Eduard Glass (Folkstone, 1933)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 b6 5. Bg5 Bb7 6. Rc1 O-O 7. e3 d6 8. Be2
Nbd7 9. O-O Bxc3 10. Rxc3 Qe8 11. Nd2 e5 12. f4 exd4 13. exd4 Ne4 14. Nxe4 Bxe4
15. f5 f6 16. Bd2 Qd8 17. Bh5 d5 18. Qg4 Kh8 19. Rh3 g5 20. Bg6 1-0

Fortunately, the poem is as short as the game:

the estimated half or insult (insult)
rustically forgets bookshelf among memory

a L-shaped butt suspends
the centre devilishly contains plaster

Now I would like to focus on two poems with no game attached.

Playing Black vs Gosta Stoltz (Hamburg, 1930)

this centre or diagonal
suspends and forgets butt, curiosity
and estimate (estimate, estimate) between elderly punctuation

a memory, this centre
accusingly short-circuits or materializes database

clogged mathematics, any washed smartphone
reproduces woman under beefy ghost

a farm or truthful ownership
core slimes and traps

Playing Black vs Frank James Marshall (Hamburg, 1930)

this instant, estimate punctually slights
central noise and collared revision

Which personable path darkens any foreground?
a slight pitch

gear must delightfully evolve bust!

specific or wooden isolation, isolation
pitches bust or equivalent opposition

nonstop mineral and each smartphone tricks

I do not believe Stoltz, Marshall, or Duchamp had a smartphone in Hamburg back in 1930, but I could be mistaken.

For the record, I will publish the two games since the author, or the Chess Bard, chose to leave the pages blank. The book would have been better if the author had chosen to leave the “poems,” and I use the word loosely, off of the page in lieu of the games…

Playing Black vs Gosta Stoltz (Hamburg, 1930)
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ gxf6 (Duchamp, MY MAN!) 6. Nf3 Bf5 7. g3 Nd7 (…7 Qd5) 8.Nh4 (c3) Be4 9. f3 Bg6 10. Bg2 Qc7 11. O-O e6 12. Qe2 O-O-O 13. c4 Nb6 14. Bf4 Qd7 (14…e5!?)
15. Rfd1 Be7 16. a3 Na8 (16…Rhe8) 17. d5 e5 18. Be3 Nb6 (18…f5!?) 19. f4 cxd5 20. c5 Na4 21. c6 Qe6
22. Qb5 Nb6 23. Bxb6 axb6 24. Qxb6 bxc6 25. f5 Qd6 26. Rxd5 Qc7 27. Qa6+ Qb7
28. Rxd8+ Rxd8 29. Qxb7+ Kxb7 30. fxg6 fxg6 31. Rc1 Rd6 32. Bf3 f5 33. Rd1 Kb6 34. Ng2 Kb5 35. Be2+ Ka4 36. Ne3 Kb3 37. Rxd6 Bxd6 38. Bd1+ Ka2 39. Nc4 Bc5+ 40. Kf1 Bd4 41. a4 Kb1 42. a5 Kc1 43. Ba4 1-0

Playing Black vs Frank James Marshall (Hamburg, 1930)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b6 3. c4 e6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. Nc3 Bb7 6. Qc2 d5 7. e3 O-O 8. cxd5
Nxd5 9. Bxe7 Qxe7 10. Nxd5 Bxd5 11. Bd3 h6 12. a3 c5 13. dxc5 Rc8 14. b4 bxc5
15. Rc1 Nd7 16. Ba6 Rc7 17. e4 Bb7 18. Bxb7 Rxb7 19. bxc5 Qxc5 20. O-O Qxc2 21.
Rxc2 Kf8 22. Rfc1 Ke7 23. Nd4 Ke8 24. f4 Rab8 25. e5 Nf8 26. Rc5 Rb1 27. Rxb1
Rxb1+ 28. Kf2 Rb7 29. Rc8+ Ke7 30. Ra8 Ng6 31. g3 Kd7 32. a4 Ne7 33. Nb5 Nc8
34. g4 Rxb5 35. axb5 Kc7 36. g5 hxg5 37. b6+ Kb7 38. Rxc8 Kxc8 1/2-1/2

The price for this book is $18, but it also available as an eBook, which must be cheaper. EIGHTEEN BUCKS!? Fortunately, I suggested my local library system, the Athens regional library system, the Georgia public library of the year in 2017, purchase this book, something I now deeply regret.

One thought on “Irresponsible Chess Poetry Mediums

  1. Maynard G. Krebs says:

    At least there is still something humans do better than AI!

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