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December 7, 2023

Chess Match in Space with Chimpanzee

Thad DeVassie

It’s cosmonaut versus astronaut. The match is being streamed by satellite from the International Space Station to chess fanatics on Earth, including a pair in Antarctica, according to the analytics. A bishop here, a rook there, collapse of knights, sacrificial pawns, the slow slap of the chess clock in zero gravity—it’s an intensity few can stomach. Someone tried a late-match piping of Stravinsky’s The Firebird through the livestream. On the fourth such attempt, it breaks through, has people guessing it is a prelude to a cosmonaut victory, that is until Albert III, the chimpanzee, floats toward the board and swallows several chess pieces whole. He senses they are a source of comrade tension, or overripe banana slices. The livestream goes dead. This is where things get difficult, especially for Albert’s delicate digestive track and his paper airplane, which is code for what happens next in space, with unfortunate repercussions felt by every floating primate.


THAD DeVASSIE is a writer and artist/painter who creates from the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio. He is the author of three chapbook collections, most recently THIS SIDE OF UTOPIA (Cervena Barva Press, 2023). He was awarded the James Tate Poetry Prize for SPLENDID IRRATIONALITIES in 2020. Find more of his written and painted work at

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