Soonís we landed, we were seated. Chess pieces stood in pretty rows. Then the cameramen descended, Blinding us with their strobes. Even at home I isnít one for turning. No reporterís going to get my goat. As for inexperience, I laugh: This Schiffer has no way of learning What opening Iíll ram down his throat. Lucky bugger, Iím black, so itís his inning. People say heís savy with the white. Pawn moves to King 4... Interesting beginning, But something is familiar about that sight. Itís my turn. What now, my buddy Steph, Steer by gueeswork through Siberiaís frozen hell? All I can remember is - the queenís the belle, Moving back and forth, or right to left, While them knights are jumping like an "L". Thanks to Steph, my oldtime factory buddy, Heís the guy who taught me how to move... Later I heard - maybe I got it lucky - That I opened with a classical debut.
Playing against time, slow as molasses, Brought to mind the chef from my canteen: Swap those chess pieces for shotglasses, Then weíd see whoís got the best routine! Aims a fork right in my face. Thatís dirty! Must be hungry. Man, so are we all! With this sort of starter I get very thirsty, But they donít allow drinking in the hall. Iím famished, would you be surprised? What they give us? Coffee and some fruits! Squares turn to circles in my eyes, Kings, I think, are aces in disguise, And into the corner pockets go the rooks. Thereís a superstition, and I ainít faking, "First time lucky!" - chance can intervene - So Iím gonna drive him crazy with my checking, Just as soon as that chequer becomes queen. Canít make up my mind, allís hurly-burly. Time to strike the blow, but where to aim? Hit him with a rook? A little early. Right hook to the jaw? A little early. After all, itís only the first game. Heís wrecking my defense, the cad, The old Indian ploy I laid out before him. Somethingís rotten here, and smells bad, Like the Indo-Pakistani quarrel. Shouldnít kid around with a kidder: I know a thing or two about blocking. If he goes for mate, then mate itíll be, Iím going to floor him with my knee - Or how íbout a bishop on the noggin? Everythingís not so dark up close: Time and speed is what Iím now gaining. In this world of chess, a pawn becomes Queen, provided it got proper training. So this Schiffer moves his tricks around, Up and down he walks, a little pensive. Now heís proposed a rook exchange: Naturally he should be apprehensive: I can lift one-fifty kilos lying down. It was then I fixed him with my stare. And the moment he announced "Check!" I showed my biceps, nice and bare, Removed my jacket, bared my neck. At that moment everything grew quiet. When he noticed all that bare brawn, He seemed to forget about the game, And the fabled Fischer, turning white, Suddenly agreed it was a draw.
© de Cate + Navrozov. Translation, 1995