文学作品英译 梁实秋《下棋》

作者:未知 来源:未知 2014-10-08 我要评论( )



Playing Chess


Liang Shiqiu


The last man I would like to play chess with is a man with too much self-control. When he sees a huge piece of his position taken by his opponent (as in Go), or *a chariot, lost to his opponent (1) through an erroneous move (as in Chinese chess), he remains calm and unruffled, as if nothing whatever has happened. And that air of his will surely make you feel flat and insipid. A real gentleman seldom contests with others; he will, however, seek to do his opponent down in a game of chess. When you put him on the spot, you can expect to see blue veins standing out on his temples and drops of cold sweat the size of soybean appearing on his forehead. He will either wear a wan smile on his long face, or purse his lips in displeasure, or scratch his head, or let out a sharp cry, or sigh and groan, or bitterly repent his folly, or keep hiccupping unceasingly, or flush crimson with shame, and suchlike. And at such a moment, feeling carefree, you can light a cigarette or just take a sip from your teacup and savor the signs of your opponent's discomfort. The pleasure you have from it, I believe, is by no means less than that a hunter gets from a deadbeat rabbit at his mercy. And from this I have found out something—when engaged in a game of chess, you should resort to every conceivable means to embarrass your opponent, and try hard to remain calm when you yourself fall into difficulty. If you are unable to cause your opponent to suffer, why not try to let him find as little pleasure as possible from your trouble?


Bo (gaming) and Yi (playing chess) have long been mentioned in the same breath (in Chinese), for they have some features in common--both belong to gambling and are regarded as just slightly better than "being sated with food and idling all day long". Playing chess, indeed, is not a significant skill, yet we can study a man through his moves on the chessboard. It is believed that there once lived a slow-going man, who, after his opponent had moved the cannon to the center, dithered for half an hour about whether to move the left horse or the right one, making his opponent choose to give up rather than wait any longer. Such people do exist: they never make a move unless they have thought it over again and again. It seems to me that they would surely win the tortoise-hare race if they took part in it. On the other hand, there are also impetuous people around us, who are always impatient and make hasty moves in chess playing, just like they are in a race. That is also the consistent way of those who eat all day long without exerting their minds. In a game, no one wants to be beaten; quite to the contrary, everybody wants to win. However, what to contend for and how to scramble is quite different from one person to another--calculating people try to save a little only to lose a lot, sagacious ones give up a little for a lot, intrepid ones fight to the bitter end in hand-to-hand combat, even-stevens each go their own ways, ruthless ones do not budge an inch, and competitive and unyielding ones each seek to beat their opponents only to end in common ruin. There are also people who keep uttering foul and novel terms as they play. What is worst, we can even find people who develop their scrambling in chess into a fierce fight. Once there were two players, whose long silence made some man of curiosity open the door to see what the matter was. In the extreme quietness neither was seen at first, later they were found grappling with each other one over the other behind the door. The one who got the upper hand was trying to dig his chariot out from the other’s mouth, so the latter was unable to make any noise, for he would have to open his mouth if he tried to, and, if he opened his mouth, the chariot would be taken out. And the chariot being taken back, his opponent would certainly make a retraction, which would cause him difficulty in winning the game. Such a serious attitude of the two is charmingly naive. I myself once happened to see two men locked in a game of chess, both seated quietly with a peaceful expression like supernatural beings until the situation became critical, at which point both of them stood up with an aggressive look. And later when the decisive moment came, the two even jumped up onto the table!


In his Xian Qing Ou Ji (Notes at Leisure), Li Yu, who styled himself Li Weng, said, “To play chess is not so interesting as to watch others play, for an onlooker has nothing to worry about—gain or loss has nothing to do with him.” Watching others playing chess indeed is quite interesting, just like watching bullfighting, cockfighting or cricket-fighting, yet an onlooker also has his own suffering, say, to keep silence while watching. He will have a terrible itch in his throat—itch to speak out. How can one keep his mouth shut and watch a man fall into a snare? However, your advice is usually unwelcome—if it does make some sense, one player will hate you and curse you inwardly, “What a big mouth”, while the other, whom you intend to help, will not be grateful to you, “You’re telling me! I’m not a fool!” And if there is little or no sense in your advice, both players will give you a snort of contempt, “What a fool!” However, forcing yourself to keep it to yourself, you will feel very much oppressed. No wonder why there was a man who had just got a slap in the face but still cried, “Chariot! The chariot is in danger!”


Most players of chess play just for diversion. Chess has so many enthusiasts only because it suits man’s bellicosity. It is a contest “of wits, not of strength”. So you may find country folks, who stand aloof from worldly success, seated at the chessboard in the melon shed or under the legume trellis, you may also find members of the leisured class locked in chess, passing the time in teahouses or pubs on busy streets—”If not to do something senseless, how to beguile the long life?” Also, VIPs in retirement from setbacks in their official careers now living in clover, having no other scope to exercise their abilities, cannot but while away their remaining years with chess. Thus we say it is to give vent to one’s “spare energy” to play chess. Men are born bellicose. They have never ceased intriguing against each other. It is far better to occupy more position on the chessboard than to jockey for more power and profit in real life. It is also far better to take a chariot of your opponent’s than to swindle and cheat others. A man of the Song Dynasty had the following story recorded in one of his books: “Prime Minister Li Ne, a keen lover of chess, was a man of no patience and impetuosity, whose anger would give way to smiles once engaged in a game of chess. Every time he got angry, his wife or some other member of his family would have the game of chess brought out and placed before him quietly. Seeing the game, Li would calm down. Forgetting all the unpleasantness, he would take up a piece and turn his mind to chess (see: Nan Bu Xin Shu, i.e., New Book of the South)”. Whether it is true that playing chess can exert such a favorable influence on one’s temperament, I am not sure. Yet it is quite true that there are people who will give no thought to their lives when engaged in games of chess. Two friends of mine were locked up in a game one day, and neither of them turned a hair when an air raid siren suddenly sounded. A bomb exploded on the ground not far away a moment later, setting the pieces on the chessboard dancing and the tiles on the roof shaking. The one not quite so absorbed was somewhat alarmed and rose from the table but was stopped by his opponent. “You leave? Then it is you that lose the game.” You see, what pleasure he has found in chess!



calculate ['kælkjuleit]
vi. 计算;以为;作打算vt. 计算;预测;认为;打算

retirement [ri'taiəmənt]
n. 退休,退役

combat ['kɔmbæt, kəm'bæt]
vt. 反对;与…战斗vi. 战斗;搏斗n. 战斗;争论adj. 战斗的;为…斗争的

curiosity [,kjuri'ɔsiti]
n. 好奇,好奇心;珍品,古董,古玩

cricket ['krikit]
n. 板球,板球运动;蟋蟀

contempt [kən'tempt]
n. 轻视,蔑视;耻辱

vein [vein]
n. 血管;叶脉;[地质] 岩脉;纹理;翅脉;性情vt. 使成脉络;象脉络般分布于

clover ['kləuvə]
n. [植] 三叶草;苜蓿;红花草

opponent [ə'pəunənt]
n. 对手;反对者;敌手adj. 对立的;敌对的

engage [in'ɡeidʒ]
vt. 吸引,占用;使参加;雇佣;使订婚;预定vi. 从事;答应,保证;交战;啮合






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