The Fifty Move Rule

19 10 2013

The intended reason for the rule is so that a chess player with no chance to win cannot be obstinate and play on indefinitely or seek a win purely due to an opponent’s fatigue.

She edges closer in dreamy dark,
‘he should sleep through now.’
Check. Scratched from safety,
he blunders an arm between them. She moves
away. An exchange of sighs.

Desperate to resign.

Isolated pieces patrol, paring trenches
paralleling harmlessly. The board is dusty;
his turn. The game is torpid; his turn.
The intercom invites him with songthrush,
stream, sonata and he is teased to tiredness
by a baby’s breaths. A vicarious sleep.

A flare of sound, a firework of panic
and he chooses carelessly. Reading
the black like Braille, stumbling
towards the baby’s wail,
he pauses to take
down dressing gown
and she is there to turn
on lights, offer advice.

He follows her around the board,
swapping territory, holding hopes
giving ground, facing stalemate in silence.
He plays at parenthood.

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