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Wednesday's Poem | Playing Chess with Marcel Ducham


Playing Chess with Marcel Ducham

Playing Chess with Marcel Ducham is a poem dedicated to Marcel Duchamp. Using chess and experimental forms we present a poem of nonsensical gibberish that explores the rhythm of language through the moment and movement of two great minds locked in a puzzle. These poems appeal to the aureate sounds upon the ear and the repetition of the words in their act of play open up new experiences to the eye. Retinal to the last move, this poem neither wins nor looses, its endgame concludes in a draw. 


Playing Chess With Marcel Ducham - Photobook





The poem uses the actual gameplay by Frank Marshall verses Marcel Duchamp at the Chess Olympiad held in Hamburg Germany in 1930. The whole game is listed below in algebraic notation.


Frank Marshall (Playing White) - M. Duchamp (Playing black)

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



Each square and chess piece is assigned a word. I placed that word on the chessboard as well as a word on each chess piece. The lines of the poem follow the lines of play in the Marshall Duchamp game. The words were chosen from the current list of the one hundred most commonly used words in the English language. Each piece’s word begins each line of the poem. The lines of the pieces path crossing the board follow how the rest of the line of poetry will construct. The language of movement can never be checked, never be mated. The game ends in a draw, as does the poem. How can it not be nonsense for the sake of the mirage that is art? The imagination is waiting to play, White to open.




Playing Chess with Marcel Ducham




1. Opening Game


 By eye be take

 Under you the early next


 Small world week say do

 On few try


 First child fact know

 Great same large


 Right year eye have come work

 Beneath as same


 Old person part problem fact

 Into I few


 Big way child

 Last bad call find


 For place have

 After not as you, above this you as


 First know [takes] last find

 Under next large call [takes] first find


 Right work next [takes] beneath same

 Over it [takes] right same


 Old fact know use [takes] under find

 Into few leave [takes] old find


 Different think place be

 New and young



2. Middle Game



 Good hand point

 With public leave use


 By take [takes] with use

 Above as not it I


 In part problem go

 On try [takes] by use


 Other time person year

 Out that few public bad


 Different be know give feel

 Above I public


 For have see

 Into find leave few


 Different feel [takes] into few

 Above public takes different few


 In go [takes] in use

 Over same call [takes] in use


 High day thing would, to life would thing

 Over use know fact [takes] big child


 Other year [takes] over child

 After you as




3. Endgame


 To thing day way year

 After as same


 Small do come see take

 After same not


 Little work do come

 Up a that


 Few see tell

 So about bad it not as


 Other child fact know use

 Above few try give go problem part person


 To year [takes] above person

 Up that few try give go problem part [takes] to person [check]


 High would work

 Up person part problem go give try few


 Other use leave public I

 After not same


 Other I that a

 About as you the early


 At week say

 After same bad


 Good point make

 About early the able same


 Small take find use give

 About same not it I





 At say think

 Up few try [takes] small give


 Good make [takes] up give

 After bad public


 At think work

 New young [takes] at work


 Good give try [check]

 After public few


 Other a that [takes] about I

 After few [takes] other I