Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025215, Sun, 23 Mar 2014 11:35:13 -0300

Knights with crimson crown in "Exile"
*C. Kunin*: You know, I have to check, but it seems to me that Stauntons
"signs" their sets by stamping a crown on the Knight!

*Jansy Mello: * To complement wiki informations about Staunton's "crowned"
knights, I'll now quote Nabokov himself, from "Speak, Memory," ch.14 (3),
in the same chapter, titled "*Exile*", in which he mentions "*fairy chess*"
(I'll return to that in another posting).

*"**I remember slowly emerging from a swoon of concentrated chess thought,
and there, on a great English board of cream and cardinal leather, the
flawless position was at last balanced like a constellation. It worked. It
lived. My Staunton chessmen (a twenty-year-old set given to me by my
father's Englished brother, Konstantin), splendidly massive pieces, of
tawny or black wood, up to four and a quarter inches tall, displayed their
shiny contours as if conscious of the part they played. Alas, if examined
closely, some of the men were seen to be chipped (after traveling in their
box through the fifty or sixty lodgings I had changed during those years);
but the top of the king's rook and the brow of the king's knight still
showed a small crimson crown painted upon them, recalling the round mark on
a happy Hindu's forehead."*

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