Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Chess & Painting: a Parable (2005)

One evening I played chess against a man who later became my enemy. Or perhaps it would be better to say that he later came to see me as his enemy, since I do not like to keep enemies.

Whoever he was, we played chess: a tense and closely fought game that we did not get to finish that evening.

For several weeks I left the pieces on the board as they were, anticipating that we might meet again to conclude the game.

As it happened there was a falling out between us, and I began to believe that the game would never be finished. Nevertheless the pieces stayed in their positions and looked at each other.

The chess pieces were motionless for several weeks, until one evening when I came home and saw that a painting had jumped from the wall. The painting had not damaged itself; its glass frame had remained intact when it fell to the floor. This was perhaps some kind of miracle.

Evidently the painting had fallen on to the chess board before finding its way to the floor. Chess pieces were strewn across the room; some on the floor, some on the table, and some remained on the board, overturned and out of place.

Finally the game had been finished. I wondered whether other games had ever been put to death by a falling painting; or whether, in fact, I had been the first player to lose in this manner.

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