Sunday, April 20, 2014


          Well, if they’d asked me against whom I wanted to be matched, I believe I’d have chosen the fool. He is a gracious and noble opponent and, win or lose, it is an education to play the fool. I once saw him play ducks and drakes to a standstill, and the feathers were everywhere, and one of the ducks, at the close of play, made the most extraordinary curtsey which I have ever seen. Still, I thought, looking at the board, I could have fared worse (In those days I thought in such phrases, a sad prey to the delusion that they went well with the floppy hats to which I was prone). I could play the sedulous ape well enough, and perhaps show him a trick or two before we were done.

          The sedulous ape is not an adversary to be taken lightly. His reach is long and, for all his air of deliberation, he is capable of making lightning-quick moves which seem inspired though later, as you nurse your wounds and analyze your defeat, you can see how they’d been planned since the beginning of your game. In fact, when we were rooming together in Barcelona, he once told me that there were moves he’d been planning for generations, waiting for the right opponent to be born.

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