1 OCTOBER 1988, Page 43


Sir: As chess correspondent of The Specta- tor I feel I must rush to the defence of the Red Queen, who was so unfairly mis- quoted in Jock Bruce-Gardyne's article 'A blip round the ear for Mr Lawson' (24 September).

No chess piece (chess, as we all know, being a game of ruthless logic) could ever utter such a blatantly irrational statement as 'sentence first, verdict afterwards'. No, this is more likely to be the whim of a playing card, a typical representative of the forces of chance and hazard. Indeed, the quotation can surely be traced to that emotional creature the Queen of Hearts in Lewis Caroll's other book, Alice's Adven- tures in Wonderland.

The Red Queen in Through the Looking- Glass and What Alice Found There is actually famous for saying, 'Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!' Devastating logic, you see. One would expect no less from a chess queen.

Even more appropriate, in the circumst- ances, might be the memorable phrase of the Red Queen's fellow chessboard royal, the White Queen, when explaining how she pays her staff: 'Jam tomorrow and Jam yesterday but never jam today.'

Raymond Keene 15e Queens Gate Place, London SW7