State Chess Championship

In a gym attached to the Test Match stadium
West Bengal chess pours from shirt-sleeves.
Hawk-like hands perch for ever
over boards innate with a billennium of shrewd positions.
Post-mortems tear back over highways and byways,
while at the top table tension crackles the surface
as a main road inches on.
Deliberate paws of old-timers, hasty fingers of children
stop and start time, take arms in the game of war,
stake friendship before and after.
All are equal: the adamant board
squares off the cosmos to a set of rules.
A small boy beats the State champion, youth finds its fist-power –
I take on a trio of tiny girls and am slaughtered.

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