Saturday, September 12, 2009

God Knows what the Mailman Made of it

A postcard from a fellow-problemist to Eliyahu Fasher, 1967. Image credit: Yad Tabenkin institute, Eliyahu Fasher's archives.

Chess jargon -- and problemist's jargon in particular -- is notoriously odd-looking for the non-initiated. Hans Ree notes in his article 'Sic' (The Human Comedy of Chess: A Grandmaster's Chronicles, 1999, pp. 284-285 [Milford: Russell Enterprises]):
"Do you people really talk about 'problem composers'?" my interlocutor asked with amazement. "Certainly, that is the usual term," I said. She was silent for a moment, and then she smiled and said: "That is the term I have always been looking for, for my husband."
Here we have another example. 'You asked without [picture of black knight], so without [picture of red rook] f6'. What are those weird pictures? And what is f6 -- in Hebrew, written like 'and 6' ? 'And 6' what? No doubt some code. What's more, the letter says that in the previous form there were 'four threats', but now the writer is only giving 'two threats'.

A threatening letter in code. Who sends something like that in a postcard, anyway, which anybody can read? Should I, the mailman, report it to the police?


I apologize for the wonky formatting in the last two posts -- blogger's formatting is acting up again.

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