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Ivan the Terrible`s Formidable Chess Partner PDF Drucken E-Mail
By Julian Scutts

Scene: The Kremlin.


Ivan IV (the Terrible): Your move, peasant: (aside) Clever for a peasant. I wonder if he saw the point of my last move. I'll have his queen unless he's very very careful.

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Ivan the Terrible's Formidable Chess Partner




Scene: The Kremlin.


Ivan IV (the Terrible):


Your move, peasant:

(aside) Clever for a peasant. I wonder if he saw the point of my last move.

I'll have his queen unless he's very very careful.




So he moves his pawn forward. Shall I take it? What, and let his queen

escape! Now, for a sacrifice, I'll move my bishop so.




Aha! He refused the bait. He moved that pawn again. The fool!

I'll take his queen even sooner than anticipated. But not just yet.




That's strange. He moves his knight so as to threaten check or take

my castle. A diversionary tactic. I am not that easily fooled. Now I'll

close the net.




That shook him! His queen is lost. Either she stays where she is - to be

taken by my knight, or takes my bishop only to fall foul of a defending


In my youth I occasionally lost a game, but since I became Czar, only one man

was foolhardy enough to declare checkmate. The game was never finished,

being suspended when I suddenly remembered a treasonable act committed by my

opponent. No, we were never able to finish the game.




So he moves. He has obviously given up hope of saving the queen. He moves

that pathetic little pawn forward again. I'm not one to despise a pawn, mind

you. It's very insignificance is its strength. The isolated pawn is indeed a

derisory thing, but together pawns can form formidable chains of defence -

or attack.

But why should I be concerned with pawns when I can have his queen, ha ha!




Funny, he didn't even bat an eyelid. It's almost if he were leering like one

on the point of triumph, not defeat. What did he say his name was? Vladimir?

He came as a replacement for Alexej, who's abed with fever. He made all

the outward gestures of deference of one in his station, yet lacks that

servility so typical of his class.


(Aloud) Black to move!


(Aside) What lean hands he has. His skin has the texture of an ancient

parchment, so dry.




So, he takes the bishop, and the way is open for that pawn. It can advance

to the final row, and .. he could bring my king into check, if not worse..!

No, Alexij must have told him. The man's no fool.


(Aloud) Peasant, we are the Czar. To some we are known as the Terrible

Should any mortal man seek to gain advantage over us, the Czar of all the

the Russias, the successor of Constantine and Byzantium, that man had

better look well to ensure the continuation of his well-being, to

reflect as to how his interests are best served. We suggest you that you

move your knight to protect your castle.




(Aside) He obliges, but now my king has no escape route in the case, the

most unlikely case, that he moves that pawn to the final row. He must have

got the message. Even so, it was very cunning how that pawn wormed its way

toward the final row. Just to be on the safe side, I'll

move my bishop to the position where it can dislodge his knight. In these

parts the Church has wisdom enough to comply with the wishes of the Emperor.

Only in the swabbling and disunited west has there been a cleavage between

Church and State, Pope and Emperor, the will of the ruler and the manifest

interests of the ruled.




So he moves, he moves the pawn. Just one more move and it reaches the final

row, the field that turns the humble pawn into a deadly queen..

I can feel another of those attacks coming on ..


(Aloud) Sirrah! Sirrah! Go fetch my salts, advise the doctor I require his

care. Oh, and inform the executioner to sharpen his axe just in case his

services are required at extremely short notice.


(Aside) My move. In only two moves I could take his pawn with my queen. One

move too late, though. Surely he realizes.


(Aloud) We need fresh air. Page, bring a stool for our feet. They are as

heavy as lead. Bring warm water in a bowl to bathe them. They are as cold as



Peasant, give us a little more time to consider our next move. We are



(Aside) It is as though some enemy had poisoned me. But why now?

It was little short of a miracle that I survived the murderous plots of

those scheming Boyards. They poisoned those whom most I loved,

yet I, the heir of supreme power, lived on - the Grand Prince of Muscovy,

the Czar of all the Russias, the successor of Byzantium and Rome. Poisoned

that I was, a prey to those dancing shadows that haunt men's minds , a

captive of fear, an exile from the confidence of all and from the blissful

land of sleep. I survived because I struck whenever danger threatened, or

seemed to threaten - my apologies to the innocent. In rage I slew my son, my

only son. My anguish and perhaps my merit was greater than that of Abraham.

And my consolation? That Providence decreed that I should rise to a

greatness not shared by other men. It was I that made Russia mighty and

respected among all nations. It was I who extended her borders in the icy

north, conquered Khasan and Tartary. Yet shall I possess of all lands lapped

by the Baltic Sea and deliver holy Constantinple from the unbelieving sons

of Hagar. I have opened the frozen seas of the west to the plying of trade,

and made a compact with Elizabeth, Queen of England. I have overthrown the

corrupt and treacherous brood of Boyards. Even when I

had Moscow set on fire, I had the interests of Mother Russia at heart. And

shall I now be humiliated by a peasant? Once a soothsayer said to me: "Let

the emperor fear none but the peasant's emnity, for he that turns the soil

knows no difference between the beginning and the end".

I feel so weak. Were he to make that final move, I would lack the strength

even to call the guard.


(Aloud) Peasant, leave our presence. We shall continue the game tomorrow ---







Eerie Voice: Checkmate.

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