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Thomas Pompeu Accioly Borges vs Adhemar Da Silva Rocha
Rio de Janeiro (1933), Rio de Janeiro BRA
Caro-Kann Defense: Classical Variation. Main lines (B18)  ·  1-0


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Oct-30-04  SBC: Does anyone know if this "Borges" is, by any chance, Jorge Luis Borges, the enigmatic Argentinian poet and author??
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ron: It is an intriguing possibility, this game was played in Rio de Janeiro in the 1930s; but there are many people with the last name of Borges. The writer Borges was knowledgeable about chess, see for example this essay by a Borges scholar:
Oct-30-04  suenteus po 147: <SBC> That would be too cool! Borges would certainly be old enough to be this good (33 years old), but he was living in Buenos Aires at this time. Of course that doesn't mean he couldn't just travel to Rio de Janeiro when he wanted to. Did he write any stories about chess?
Oct-30-04  SBC: <suenteus po 147> <Ron>

just for background:

Jorge Luis Borges was born on August 24, 1899 and died on June 14, 1986. He was, of course, a poet and also the author of many short fictions and many, many essays of philosophical and literary nature, most of which are over my head.

He was a professor of English at the Univesity of Buenos Aires and the director of the National Library.

He was a chess player and wrote one poem (in two parts) on chess that I am aware of:



In their serious corner, the players move the gradual pieces. The board detains them until dawn in its hard compass: the hatred of two colors.

In the game, the forms give off a severe magic: Homeric castle, gay knight, warlike queen, king solitary, oblique bishop, & pawns at war.

Finally, when the players have gone in, & when time has eventually consumed them, surely the rites then will not be done.

In the east, this war has taken fire. Today, the whole earth is its provenance. Like that other, this game is for ever.


Tenuous king, slant bishop, bitter queen, straightforward castle & the crafty pawn— over the checkered black & white terrain they seek out & enjoin their armed campaign.

They do not realize the dominant hand of the player rules their destiny. They do not know an adamantine fate governs their choices & controls their journey.

The player, too, is captive of caprice (the sentence is Omar's) on another ground crisscrossed with black nights & white days.

God moves the player, he, in turn, the piece. But what god beyond God begins the round of dust & time & dream & agonies?

Oct-30-04  SBC: <Ron>

Thanks (I think) for

"That Borges had an interest in chess seems without doubt. When he was young, his father demonstrated to him the idea of the paradox of Zeno, with the help of a chess board."

That's what I mean by "over my head"!

However, in the essay I noted an error (one of the few things I did understand!):

"Poe himself wrote about the game of chess, for example there is a short story about an automate chess player."

Poe's article on the Turk (which he published anonymously) was an expose, not a story. It can be read here:

Oct-30-04  SBC: (which is the blog from the Dutch chess variant site,

gives this version of the poem:


Each in his corner, the players
Govern their slow pieces. The board
Keeps them till dawn in its severe

Ambit of two-color hate.
Within irradiate magic rigors
Of form: Rook Homeric, light
Knight, armed Queen, final King,
Oblique Bishop and aggressor Pawns.

When the players are done
And time has consumed them,
The rite will not have ceased.

In the East this war caught fire,
The whole world its amphitheater now.
Like that other one, this game is infinite.


Tenuous King, slant Bishop, furious
Queen, direct Rook and crafty Pawn
Upon the black-and-white of the way

Seek and engage their armed battle.
They do not know the signal hand
Of the player governs their destiny,
That an adamantine rigor
Subjects their fancy and their journey.

The player too is a prisoner
(The sentence is Omar's) of another board
Of black nights and white days.

God moves the player, he the piece.
What God-hid god the weft begins
Of dust and time and dream and agonies?

[A slightly different translation which I have incorporated in my notes -]

"The player too is prisoner
Of another board
Of black nights and white days.

God moves the player and the player the piece.
But which god behind God begins the weft
Of dust and time and sleep and dying?"

(Jorge Luis Borges as quoted in
"The Flanders Panel" by Arturo Perez-Reverte)

then adds:

Here is another beautiful chess poem by Borges:

And since that day
I have not moved the pieces
On the board.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Ron: <sbc> thanks for the Borges chess poems. I just noticed that one of them alludes to The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
Premium Chessgames Member
  vonKrolock: <SBC> There's a stronger possibility that this game was played by the brazilian Thomas Pompeu Accioly Borges (1908-1986) He lived in Rio de Janeiro and, as You can see, he even won some Tournaments there in 1933. But i would find strange if this elementar opening trap appeared in some Tournament game - his adversary here, Silva Rocha, was a very strong player... Nice to compare the translations, very inspiring ot find here not only Caïssa, the Chess Muse, but also the Muses of Poetry...
Oct-30-04  SBC: <vonKrolock>


I'd rather think it was Jorge Luis Borges, but the early 1930's seem to be Thomas Pompeu Accioly Borges' time.

Anyway, it was a good segue to allow the apppearance of Borges' poem here.

Oct-30-04  SBC: <Ron>

<I just noticed that one of them alludes to The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. >

When I first found the text to the poem (even before I first posted on this page, since I was looking for any games by Borges) I thought the reference was oddly placed and I wasn't sure if it was the poet's words or some annotation. That's the reason I looked for other translations of the poem.. to see if the reference was there too. And it seems that not only does Borges refer to The Rubaiyat, but he tells you he did.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: I did not know Borges wrote about chess. Thanks very much <SBC>. Here is the original, for Lawrence, meloncio, and others who contribute to chessgames from Spanish countries.



En su grave rincón, los jugadores
rigen las lentas piezas. El tablero
los demora hasta el alba en su severo
ámbito en que se odian dos colores.

Adentro irradian mágicos rigores
las formas: torre homérica, ligero
caballo, armada reina, rey postrero,
oblicuo alfil y peones agresores.

Cuando los jugadores se hayan ido,
cuando el tiempo los haya consumido,
ciertamente no habrá cesado el rito.

En el Oriente se encendió esta guerra
cuyo anfiteatro es hoy toda la tierra.
Como el otro, este juego es infinito.


Tenue rey, sesgo alfil, encarnizada
reina, torre directa y peón ladino
sobre lo negro y blanco del camino
buscan y libran su batalla armada.

No saben que la mano señalada
del jugador gobierna su destino,
no saben que un rigor adamantino
sujeta su albedrío y su jornada.

También el jugador es prisionero
(la sentencia es de Omar) de otro tablero
de negras noches y blancos días.

Dios mueve al jugador, y éste, la pieza.
¿Qué Dios detrás de Dios la trama empieza
de polvo y tiempo y sueño y agonías?

Oct-30-04  SBC: <tamar>

Thanks. i wouldn't have known how to find it in spanish. I'm sure it's even more beautiful.

Premium Chessgames Member
  meloncio: <SBC><tamar> Thanks, I didn't know this poem: a splendid couple of sonnets! Borges is one of my favourites writers, though some people said his literature was elitist and dark, I like it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  vonKrolock: <tamar> Muito obrigado ("obliged a lot") <SBC> Generously scattered in Borges' tales are Chess references... His acurate descriptions, sometimes ironic erudition, poetical fairy atmosphere - elements that produced some of my ideal youth readings, in Portuguese translations launched by an editing house from Porto Alegre - it was impossible to endure a month of school vacances in a small beach town whithout some of Borges volumes... in those days - (late sixties, early seventies) - i never imagined that in the same building, Caiobá Balneary Park, in which it was almost impossible to find a Chess adversary (and Chess computers not yet appeared!) although a small group of amateurs assembled in Matinhos City, a few miles abroad, in Edwin Poch's house (a German enthusiastic player that had a coffe-house and bakery there) - well, so in our appartments buiding, our National Federation would years later (1994) provide a World Junior Championship whith Sophie Polgar, Leitão, Waitzkin etc - In the early seventies it was beyond imagination!
Premium Chessgames Member
  BishopBerkeley: Borges Famous Taxonomy

Sometimes it's hard to know the best way to classify things. But Jorge Luis Borges' fictional attempt to classify animals has drawn far more attention than I think the author would have expected!

Without further ado....

(From )

In "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins," Borges describes 'a certain Chinese Encyclopedia,' the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, in which it is written that animals are divided into:

1. those that belong to the Emperor,
2. embalmed ones,
3. those that are trained,
4. suckling pigs,
5. mermaids,
6. fabulous ones,
7. stray dogs,
8. those included in the present classification,
9. those that tremble as if they were mad,
10. innumerable ones,
11. those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
12. others,
13. those that have just broken a flower vase,
14. those that from a long way off look like flies.

This classification has been used by many writers. It "shattered all the familiar landmarks of his thought" for Michel Foucault. Anthropologists and ethnographers, German teachers, postmodern feminists, Australian museum curators, and artists quote it. The list of people influenced by the list has the same heterogeneous character as the list itself.

[end quote]

What a wonderfully strange way to divide things up! No wonder many people have seen it as a kind of Zen ko-an! The above is, of course, in translation (as I understand it). It would be interesting to track down the original!

(: ♗B :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  BishopBerkeley: More on taxomony...

Of course, many of you will have learned the taxonomic mnemonic:

"Kings play Chess on fine-grained sand."

This sentence helps you remember the taxonomic hierarchy: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.

(: ♗B :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  meloncio: <BishopBerkeley> I see you like him, so I strongly recommend the Borges's "Bestiario"; also called "Manual de Zoología Fantástica (Handbook of Fantastic Zoology)", also called "El Libro de los Seres Imaginarios (The Book of the Imaginary Beings)". But I must tell you that his erudition and command of language is so astonishing and dazzling that is a bit difficult book to read for me, even in Spanish!

Some notes (spanish) on

Premium Chessgames Member
  BishopBerkeley: Thank you, <meloncio>! Even in translation, I have found Borges to be something of an intellectual roller-coaster ride: I can just imagine what he's like in the original! Perhaps I will check out these works.

Thanks again!

(: ♗B :)

Nov-05-04  admiralnemo: Thank you all for the poetry. Wonderful stuff.
Jan-24-05  Republic of Texas: "Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) y el ajedrez"
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: 'The Total Library: Non-fiction 1922-1986' by JL Borges is one of my favourite books of any kind.
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