First HPL Tournament Chapter II: Anthology of Abominations
Our plucky band of six have sailed at last into the uncharted waters writhing beneath the jagged coast which delineates the end of the first Lovecraft themed chess tournament presented here on chess.com. Each have faced many trials and triumphs as their wits were measured against the teeming forces of cosmic entropy... and several were found wanting. Their various exploits are too numerous (and some are too painful) to be recorded here, so I have chosen a selection of positions and movesets that I hope will further titillate and astonish any readers I have not yet alienated with my verbose (and I hope at least vaguely Lovecraftian) pseudo-lecturing. This chapter contains some actual analysis and explanation of what ideas the players may have been working with in the various moves and positions, so I hope that any with the tenacity to read further will find this chapter a bit more informative and readable than the last. I have decided to include no less than 3 examples, all of which I have named after stories by Lovecraft and other mythos contributors. The titles are meant to be ironic or are chosen because they reflect some thematic idea used in the game the positions are taken from. Some of the articles contain an artificial bias towards the color of the pieces (both "for" and "against" them each in turn, as it transpires). Please realize that this is used only to continue the "mankind vs mythos" theme, and does not represent any personal preference towards either side of the battles waged on the board.
A final note before we begin, these tales are not for the squeamish, the timid, or the overanalytical. The H.P.L. chess tournament is not about great chess. It's not about good chess. Heck, it's not even about mediocre chess! This record was penned (some say in human blood) to examine the horrific, the shocking, the suicidal and the foolhardy sides of the game. The effect is intended to be more entertaining than educational, whether this succeeds or not is a matter best left to posterity. Any and all comments are invited, with the understanding that general etiquette and respect for the players and games shown be applied. Prepare yourselves now, for a few brief glimpses into the clandestine and unnatural world that is: The First Howard Phillip Lovecraft Chess Tournament! And know despair!
The Music of Erich Zann (H.P.L.)
Chess has occasionally compared to musical composition. There are some obvious simularities, one of them being a possible analogy between the eight ranks and files of the chess board, and the eight pitches or notes of the western aural octave. Another is the creativity often required to bring something new or unexpected to the game. A third analogy, more prosaic, is alluded to by the following example. In the Lovecraft tale this position borrows it's title from, the composer Erich Zahn had created works of music so powerful and constructed with such an understanding of the underlying fabric of the universe that to perform these works was to open a gateway into the dread dimension of
the mythos beings themselves. Poor Zahn hides away, locking himself in his living quarters once he realizes the danger that his devilish conciertos has unleashed. Yet in spite of the danger, he feels compelled to play on. In the end of the story, just as in the following game, a poorly timed escape into the very path of the dread forces we wish to elude can be fatal. And when we stubbornly cling to our art in spite of the warnings that only destruction can result... well, see for yourselves what fruit is reaped from the seeds of impudence, and the artist's egotistical adherence to his own withering creations.
Dreams in the Witch House (H.P.L.)
Adjusting to a new environment can sometimes be difficult. Especially when the drafty corners of our newly rented flat are discovered to be the gateway to hideous alien forces beyond the realm of our understanding. As the hapless black king sweats out nasty dreams of past horrors in his unquiet rest on the unfamiliar c8 square, the insidious white witch creeps through the unnatural angles of his
borrowed defenses, and murders him in his feverish sleep. Once again we see how the dubious feminine wiles of the active queen can overpower even the most defensive of the male sex. Only the slightest bit of help from a single knight"-mare was necessary in this example to send him to his final, everlasting rest.
Jerusalem's Lot (Stephen King, from the anthology Night Shift)
Sometimes. the custodians of secret and precious things become bent and sinister due to their familiarity with the forces of darkness that their charges often lead them to contend with. Think of Saruman from LOTR, or poor Father Callahan of Stephen King's Salem's Lot. These misunderstood heroes have their analogy on the chess board (some of us believe that EVERYTHING has an analogy on the chess board). Here referred to are the "off color" bishops, sometimes criticised for not bearing enough pressure to force a win, particularly in well-castled endgames. But these crafty characters have their merit, and in the following case at least, white's "sinister" clergyman pulled through to save the day when it was growing very late indeed. The mythos inspired Stephen King story that I named this study for is about a man who inherits a strange and unsettling property. His great grandfather and great uncle battled for the souls of their small rural town hundreds of years before, and now the inheritor has stirred the spirit of one of the brothers to return. But which one? In this example, the "shadowy brother" proves to be more friend than enemy, and the ending of the game appears to be a bit more optimistic than that of King's story. Assuming, of course, that our sympathy lies with the white pieces in the first place...
Now, you have been initiated in the secrets of this unholy contest as well. Having tasted these dread morsels of mortality, do you dare return for the final, sanity blasting conclusion? The ultimate destiny of our heroes and the outcome of their morbid endeavors will be posted soon... In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed these portaits of peril, and that you will check out the cited tales and maybe even browse some of the completed games from the tournament page. Farewell, until chapter three is unleashed!