I’ve been reading China Mieville’s Kraken and came across something that had entirely passed me by on previous chess investigations – the existence of fairy chess, whereby pieces are invented with a variety of different moves. The most powerful of these pieces is the Kraken, which is a combination of the Universal Leaper (which can move to any space on the board) and the zero (which doesn’t move at all). The Kraken can move to any square including the one it is currently on – it moves by not moving. It comes from nowhere and wreaks havoc – I guess that’s the idea. But might it make sense to figure this with Benjamin’s concept of divine violence – the violence which does not create law but abolishes it, abolishes the mythic violence of the state? This may seem out of the blue (I was investigating how Benjamin and Schmitt’s ideas of sovereignty, anarchy, anomie might manifest in games) but consider the contrast between Schmitt’s exception (where the law is withdrawn and all power lays with the sovereign) and Benjamin’s real exception (when the law is abolished). Could we not attribute the first to the Universal Leaper (which retains one fixed point, in that it has to do something) and the second to the Kraken (which can move by not moving – like in the general strike, everyone simply refuses to obey)

Divine violence is the messianic event, it ruptures time. What happens if both players have a Kraken and both refuse to move, or move continually to the same square? It isn’t stalemate, rather the came is thrown into limbo by mutual consent. But then can this ever happen? Doesn’t the Kraken not always check – always presents a danger to the sovereign meaning the sovereign must move immediately to eliminate it.

This is all rough and speculative; what’s important is what you can do with this figure. I’ll have to think more on this.