Aug 022011
 

Not to be confused with John Nettles who just played the part of Jim Bergerac, Gerard Depardieu played Cyrano de Bergerac in the 1990 film of the same name

You strip from me the laurel and the rose!
Take all! Despite you there is yet one thing
I hold against you all, and when, tonight,
I enter Christ’s fair courts, and, lowly bowed,
Sweep with doffed casque the heavens’ threshold blue,
One thing is left, that, void of stain or smutch,
I bear away despite you…
My panache.

Cyrano, Act 5, Sc. 6

That quote from Edmond Rostand’s classic play is a poetic introduction to today’s theme. Cyrano delivers this monologue in his heart-rending final speech. Everything seems to have gone wrong for him and yet, even at the end, he defiantly maintains his dignity and makes his case for immortality. In the 1990 film of the same name the script writer frames the sentiment even more succinctly: “A diamond in the ash which I take in spite of you; and that is my panache.”

Today it seems that in any given competetive setting the result matters more than than the manner in which it is acheived. “No-one remembers the runner-up” say coaches and trainers around the world. That may be true but I think we can find something even more precious in the spirit of the competitor who reaches for something more than a work-man-like victory, even if they fail to acheive it.

Today’s game is another delve into the treasure trove of articles written back in the mid-1990’s for The Independent on Sunday by Walter Polhill. The game also seems appropriate given that it was played in the great Hastings tournament of 1895. A classic tournament played on British soil. Let us hope that the current British Championships turns up a few more diamonds for us to marvel at. Today then, Colonel Polhill laments a miscarriage of creative justice.

The laws of chess carry no rewards for beauty. Some of the greatest, most aesthetically pleasing ideas have earned their creators only a zero on the score table. Take this game for example, from the great Hastings event a century ago.”
 
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