Thursday, 19 October 2017

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Klaus Høeck's contribution to chess literature - now in English!

       i open with the
king’s pawn (aggressive) and walk
       into the dark and

       the somewhat doubtful
aljechin defence (more
       beautiful than lu

       pins) that is to say
black knight to f6 and my
       serbian oppo

       nent also has at
tack in his thoughts i begin
       my counter-attack

       we follow the main
variant to black knight d
       7 (bent larsen’s

       move against mikhail
tal as dangerous as wild
       roses) it is here

       that the white knight is
to be sacrificed which i
       do as the theory

       advises (but in
correctly then calls the po
       sition unresolved)

       the game now contin
ues with the necessary
       forced moves (into the

       wilderness) to the
decisive fourteenth move that
       is to say the black

       queen from d8 is
moved to a5 (origin
       ally discovered

       by a swede but most
ly accredited to the
       russian bagirov

       after a quiet in
termediate move (deep in
       to the shadows) the

       sword’s blow then falls that
move which i have patiently
       been waiting to car

       ry out in real
ity after lengthy a
       nalyses done at

       home – i now move the
white pawn forward two squares from
       a2 to a4

       two exclamation
marks – for even though the move
       doesn’t look like much

       it gives a win in
all the variants (as is
       often the case) see

       the position in
the appendix and try for
       yourself to find the

       decisive move that
leads to the win before read
       ing the solution

       i have chosen to
incorporate this game in
       the collection here

       because it makes up
my humble contribution
       to chess theory

       and i hope that pre
cisely as a poem it
       will survive in the

       rose-garden of mem
ory a bit longer than
       it otherwise would

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Poem by Morten Nielsen

HCA's 'Børnesnak' in English translation

Children’s Talk

At the merchant’s a big children’s party was being held, with well-to-do people’s children and illustrious people’s children; the merchant cut a fine figure, was a man of learning; he had once taken his university entrance exam, his nose had been kept to the grindstone by his good-natured father, who had initially been a cattle dealer, although honest and enterprising! that had been a profitable business, and the merchant had made that money grow; he had a clever mind and a good heart too, but people spoke less about that than all his money.
Illustrious people were frequent visitors at his home, both blue-blooded, as they are referred to, and noble-minded, as they are referred to, as well as those who were both and those who were neither. There was now this children’s party with children’s talk, and children don’t mince words. There was this lovely little girl, but so awfully arrogant, she had been kissed and spoilt by the servants, not the parents, they were much too sensible for that; her father was a Groom of the Chamber and that’s terribly important, she knew that.
‘I’m a Child of the Chamber!’ she said. She could just as well have been a child of the cellar, one has no say in such matters oneself; and then she told the other children that she was ‘born to it!’ and said that if one wasn’t born to it one could never become it; it didn’t help to read, to be ever so diligent if one wasn’t born to it, for one could never become it.
‘And those whose name ends in –sen,’ she said, ‘nothing can ever become of them in the world! you must hold one’s hands on your hips and keep them at a distance, these “-sens!”’ And she held her lovely, small arms akimbo with the elbows sticking out, to show how this could be done; and her small arms were so lovely. She was a charming child.
But the merchant’s little daughter got so angry; her father’s name was Madsen and she knew that this name ended in “sen!” and so she said as proudly as she could:
‘But my father can buy a hundred thalers’ worth of sweets and scatter them for children to scramble after! can your father do that?’
‘Yes, but my father,’ the writer’s little daughter said, ‘can put both your father and your father and any ‘father’ in the newspaper! Everyone’s afraid of him, mother says, for my father runs the newspaper!’
And the little girl held her held up high when she said this, as if she was a real princess who must always hold her head up high.
 But outside there stood a poor boy looking in through the half-open door. He wasn’t even able to join those inside, he was that poor; he had turned the spit for the cook and now been allowed to get a glimpse behind the door of the party-dressed children amusing themselves – and that meant a great deal for him.
‘If only I was one of them!’ he thought, and then he heard what was being said – that was really something to make him feel downhearted. His parents back home didn’t have a penny to put by, and they couldn’t afford to take a newspaper, let alone write it, and worst of all his father’s name, which was also his name, definitely ended with “sen”, nothing in the world could ever become of him. It was all so pitiful! though he had been born, he felt, truly born, nothing else was possible.
Well, that was that evening.


Many years now passed and during that time the children grew into adults.
A imposing house stood in the town, it was full of splendid things, everybody wanted to see it, even people from outside the town came to see it – who, I wonder, of the children we have told of  could possibly own such a house? Well, that’s easy to work out! no, it’s not so easy, actually. The house belonged to the poor boy; something did become of him, even though his name ended in “sen” – Thorvaldsen.
And the three other children – the blue-blooded, moneyed and proud-minded ones? well, none of them threw anything in each other’s teeth, they were all equal – they turned into pleasant, nice people, they were basically good; what they had thought and said back then was just – children’s talk.

Monday, 2 October 2017

HCA: 'Taarnvægteren Ole' in English translation

Tower Keeper Ole

‘Things go up and down in the world and down and up! now I can’t get any higher!’ tower keeper Ole said. ‘Up and down and down and up is what most people get to experience; in a way, we all end up as tower keepers – we see life and things from above!’
That’s how Ole, my friend, the old tower keeper, often used to say – an entertaining, talkative chap who appeared to say everything yet kept so much seriousness hidden deep inside him; well, he came from good, honest folk, there were those who said that he was the son of a royal adviser, or could have been! He had studied, had been an assistant teacher, assistant parish clerk, but what help was that! he then lived at the clerk’s house, with everything free; back then he was young and still a bit grand, as it’s called: he wanted to have his boots polished with blacking, but the clerk would only give him dubbin, and they had a disagreement about that; the one spoke of minginess, the other spoke of vanity, the boot polish became the black source of animosity, and so they went their separate ways; but what he insisted on from the clerk he also did from the world: blacking, and all he ever got was dubbin; – so he turned his back on humanity and became a hermit, but a hermitage that provides a living in a big city is only to be found in the church tower, and there he would ascend and smoke his pipe in his lonely passage; he would look down, and he would look up, thinking while he did so and in his own manner would talk about what he saw and did not see, what he read in books and in himself. I often lent him some reading matter, good books, and one is known by the company one keeps. He did not like English ‘governess’ novels, he said, nor French ones that were brewed on hot air and raisin stalks, no, biographies was what he wanted to have, books about the wonders of nature. I used to visit him at least once a year, normally just after New Year, for he always had something or other that connected up with his thoughts when one year was replaced by another.
I would now like to tell of two visits, in his own words if I am able.

First Visit
Among the books I most recently had lent Ole was one about rounded stones, and this he had particularly enjoyed and given him food for thought.
‘Oh yes, they are quite chirpy old characters, these rounded stones!’ he said, ‘and one passes them without giving them a thought! I’ve done so myself out in the fields and down on the beach, where they lie in great numbers. There one walks as if on cobbles, these lumps of the very oldest prehistoric remains! I’ve done so myself. Now every cobblestone commands my respect! Thank you for that book, it has filled my mind, pushed aside old thoughts and habits, made me most eager to read more of the same kind. The story of the earth is definitely the most remarkable of all novels! A pity that one cannot read the first volumes, since they have been composed in a language we have not learnt; one must read in the earth’s strata, in the pebbles, in all the geological periods, and the actors did not appear on the stage until the sixth volume, Mr. Adam and Mrs. Eve – that’s a bit late for many readers who would like to see them there from the start, but I don’t mind it a bit. It is a quite extraordinary story, and we are all part of it. We creep and crawl away yet stay in the same place, but the globe revolves, without spilling the water of its oceans over us; the crust on which we move stays firm, we do not fall through it; and then it is a story lasting millions of years, with constant progress. Thank you for that book about the rounded stones! they are fellows that could say a thing or two if only they were able! Isn’t it disdainful to occasionally turn into a nobody when one sits as high up as I do and then recall that all of us, even those with blacking to their boots, are merely minute ants on the anthill of the world, even if we are ants with orders and ribbons, ants with rank and high-standing. One feels so shame-facedly young alongside these million-year-old venerable rounded stones. I was reading the book on New Year’s Eve and was so engrossed in it that I forgot my usual pleasure that night, which is to gaze at ‘the Wild Hunt to Amager!’ Yes, well, I don’t expect you know about that!
The role of the witches on broomsticks is familiar enough, that is on Midsummer’s Eve and to Blocksberg, but we also have a Wild Hunt that is domestic and present-day, it goes to Amager on New Year’s Eve. All the bad poets, poetesses, fiddlers, hack journalists and literary figures, those that are no good, ride through the air on New Year’s Eve out to Amager; they sit astride their brushes or quill pens – a steel pen is too heavy and too stiff. As I said, I always look at it every New Year’s Eve; most of them I know the names of, but it’s not worth falling foul of them; they don’t like people to know about their Amager trip on a quill pen. I have some sort of niece who is a fisherman’s wife and who writes scandal to three respected newspapers, she says that she has been out there as an invited guest, she was carried as she does not own a quill pen and is unable to ride. She has told me all this. Half of what she said is utter lies, but the other half is already more than sufficient. When she was out there, they started with songs, every guest had written a song and each sang his or her own, for it was the best one; they were all much of a muchness, and had the same ‘tune’. Then they marched past in small societies, those who only have the gift of the gab – they were the carillons that clanged away in turn, then came the small drummers that drum away out in families. – Their acquaintance was made with those who write without appending their name, in other words, where dubbin is passed off as blacking; there was the executioner and his assistant, and the latter was the more hard-boiled, otherwise no one take any notice of him; there was the good old dustman who up-ends the bin and calls it ‘good, very good, extremely good!’ – In the midst of all the entertainment that was possibly taking place, out of the pit there rose a stalk, a tree, an enormous flower, a large toadstool, a whole roof, it was the cockaigne-pole that bore everything which the old year had given the world; out of it burst sparks, like flames, it was all the borrowed thoughts and ideas that had been used which were now escaping and shooting off, like a whole firework display. People played ‘you’re getting warm’, and the small poets played ‘the heart’s getting warm!’, the the self-styled wits told puns, nothing less was accepted. The jokes rang out as if one struck doors with empty pots, or pots with peat-ash. It was most enjoyable! the niece said; in actual fact she said a great deal more than that that was most malicious, though amusing! I won’t say what is was, one must be a good person and not express a point of view. You realise, though, that when, like me, one knows about the festivities out there, it is reasonable for me to make sure I see the Wild Hunt fly off every New Year’s Eve; if one year I miss a few, then new ones have turned up, but this year I neglected to look at the guests, I rolled off on the rounded stones, rolled through millions of years, and saw the stones tumbling freely up in the North, so them drifting on pieces of ice long before Noah’s Ark was built, saw them sink to the sea bed and come up again on a longshore bar, the one that stuck up out of the water and said ‘this must be Sealand!’ I saw them become a seat for species of birds we do not know, a seat for wild chieftains we also do not know, until the axe bit runes into a pair of them which then could be placed chronologically, but I had ended up completely outside of things, become a nobody. Then three or four lovely shooting stars fell, they lit up, my thoughts took a new turn. – You know what a shooting star is, don’t you? Scholars don’t seem to! – I have my own thoughts about them, and it’s this: How often, in secret, are kind thoughts and blessings not expressed for anyone who has carried out something that is fine and good; often such thanks is silent, but it doesn’t fall to the ground! What I think is that it is caught up by the sunshine, and a ray of the sun brings this silently felt secret thanks down over the benefactor’s head; if it is a whole people that through time sends its thanks, then they come like a bouquet, fall like a shooting star on the benefactor’s grave. It gives me such great pleasure to see shooting stars, especially on New Year’s Eve, to work out who is destined to be recipient of a bouquet of thanks. A bright shooting star recently fell in the south-west: grateful thanks for many, many! who could it be! it definitely fell, I think, on the slope by Flensburg Fjord, where the Danish flag flutters over the graves of Schleppegrell, Læssøe and their comrades of the Three-Year War. One fell in the middle of the country, it fell down on Sorø, a bouquet on Holberg’s coffin, grateful thanks from so many people over the years for those wonderful comedies!
It is a great thought, a happy thought to know that a shooting star falls on our grave, it probably won’t do on mine, no ray of the sun will convey thanks to me, for I’ve done nothing to merit thanks! I will not attain blacking,’ Ole said, ‘my lot in the world is to get dubbin.’

Second Visit
It was New Year’s Day when I climbed up the tower, Ole spoke of the toasts that were drunk at the transition from the old drip to the new drip, as he called each year. Then he gave me the story of the glasses, which gave me food for thought.
‘When midnight has struck on New Year’s Eve, people at table stand up, their glassed filled, and toast the New Year. One starts the year with the glass in one’s hand, that is a good beginning for drunkards! one starts the year by going to bed, that is a good beginning for idlers! In the course of the year sleep will play a large role, as will the glasses. Do you know what resides in the glasses?’ he asked. ‘Well, there good health, happiness and wildness reside! there harm and bitter misfortune reside! When I count up the glasses, I naturally count the gradations for the various people.
You see, the first glass is that of good health! in it there grows the plant of health, if you place it in a beam, at the end of the year you can sit in the bower of health.
If you take the second glass -! well, out of this flies a small bird, it chirps innocently and merrily, so that others listen and perhaps join in: Life i beautiful! Don’t be down in the mouth! Boldly forwards!
Out of the third glass rises a small winged creature, it can hardly be called a cherub, for it has the blood and mind of a imp, not for teasing but for shenanigans! he sits behind our ear and whispers mischievous ideas to us! he lies down in the region of our heart and warms it so that one becomes light-headed, the star of the show as judged by the others!
In the fourth glass there is no plant, bird or creature, that is the boundary of reason and beyond that boundary one should never go!
If you take a fifth glass, you will weep at yourself, become so pleasantly moved emotionally, or make sure things go off with a bang! for with a bang Prince Carnival will leap out of the glass, loquacious and quite wild; he will drag you along, you will forget your dignity, if you have any! you will forget more than you are to forget or dare to forget. Everything is dancing, singing and carousing; the masks will carry you off, the devil’s daughters, in crape and in silk, come with their flowing hair and lovely limbs – tear yourself free if you can!
The sixth glass! – Well, Satan himself sits in that one, a small, well-dressed, well-spoken, charming, extremely pleasant man who completely understands you, agrees with every word you say, is your entire ego! He comes with a lamp to accompany you back to his place. There is an old legend about the saint who had to choose one of the seven deadly sins and he chose the one he thought was the least deadly, insobriety, and when drunk he committed all the other six sins. Man and the devil mix blood, that is what is in the sixth glass, and then all the small wicked shoots begin to grow; each of them speeds upwards with great force like the mustard seed of the Bible, grows into a tree that covers the whole world, and most of them are only interested in ending up in the melting furnace and being recast.
That is the story of the glasses!’ tower keeper Ole said, ‘and it can be given both with blacking and with dubbin! I give it with both!’
That was my second visit to Ole. If you want to hear any more, the visits must continue.