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阿城 棋王 一一 translation: Chess King, by Ah Cheng, Chp 1 pt 1


This is the first part of a translation of the first chapter of the 1984 novel 棋王 (‘Chess King’) by the Chinese author 阿城 (Ah Cheng).

Part 1 ·

 

棋王

一一


车站是乱得不能再乱,成千上万的人都在说话。
The train station could not have been more chaotic, with thousands upon thousands of people all speaking at once.

谁也不去注意那条临时挂起来的大红布标语。
Nobody paid any attention to that large red slogan that had been hung up temporarily.

这标语大约挂了不少次,字纸都折得有些坏。
This slogan had been hung up quite a few times, and the letters and paper had all been twisted until it was a little bit spoiled.

喇叭里放着一首又一首的语录歌儿,唱得大家心更慌。
The loudspeakers were playing recorded songs one after another, the singing making everyone more frantic.

 

我的几个朋友,都已被我送走插队,现在轮到我了,竟没有人来送。
I’d already seen off a few of my friends as they went to work in the countryside, and now it was my turn, and as it turned out there was no-one to see me off.

父母生前颇有些污点,运动一开始即被打翻死去。
Before I was born, my parents had some stains on their record, and as soon as the Revolution started they were marked for death.

家具上都有机关的铝牌编号,于是统统收走,倒也名正言顺。
Machined-made aluminium number tags were placed on all the furniture, and so it was all sold off, as was right and proper.

我虽孤身一人,却算不得独子,不在留城政策之内。
Although I was alone, I couldn’t be considered an only child; I wasn’t included in the ‘stay in the city’ policy.

我野狼似的转悠一年多,终于还是决定要走。
I roamed around like a wild wolf for more than a year, before finally deciding that I would leave.

此去的地方按月有二十几元工资,我便很向往,争了要去,居然就批准了。
The place we were going had wages of twenty or so dollars a month, and I was looking forward to it, striving to go, and to my surprised I got approved.

因为所去之地与别国相邻,斗争之中除了阶级,尚有国际,出身孬一些,组织上不太放心。
The place we were going was adjacent to another country, and whilst the struggle had got rid of class divisions, there were still international borders, so because I had a bad class background, the system wasn’t totally at ease.

我争得这个信任和权利,欢喜是不用说的,更重要的是,每月二十几元,一个人如何用得完?
I had struggled to gain trust and rights, so I was of course delighted; but what was more important was the twenty or so dollars each month – how could a person spend it all?

只是没人来送,就有些不耐烦,于是先钻进车厢,想找个地方坐下,任凭站台上千万人话别。
It was just that there was nobody to come and see me off, so I was a little impatient, and because of that I squeezed through into the carriage, hoping to find somewhere to sit down, regardless of the thousands of people on the platform saying their goodbyes.

 

车厢里靠站台一面的窗子已经挤满各校的知青,都探出身去说笑哭泣。
The windows on the side of the carriage next to the platform were already crowded with educated youth from every school, all of them reaching out to speak, laugh and weep.

另一面的窗子朝南,冬日的阳光斜射进来,冷清清地照在北边儿众多的屁股上。
The windows on the other side were facing south, and the winter sunlight was coming in at an angle, coldly and cheerlessly shining on the numerous buttocks to the north.

两边儿行李架上塞满了东西。
The luggage racks on both sides were crammed full of stuff.

我走动着找我的座位号,却发现还有一个精瘦的学生孤坐着,手拢在袖管儿里,隔窗望着车站南边儿的空车皮。
I walked along looking for my seat number, but found that there was a skinny student sitting alone with his hands in his sleeves, looking at the empty freight carriages to the south through the window.

 

我的座位恰与他在一个格儿里,是斜对面儿,于是就坐下了,也把手拢在袖里。
My seat number was right in the same compartment as his, diagonally opposite, so I sat down and put my hands in my sleeves too.

那个学生瞄了我一下,眼里突然放出光来,问:
That student eyed me up; his eyes suddenly glimmered and he asked:

“下棋吗?”
“Want to play chess?”

倒吓了我一跳,急忙摆手说:“不会!”
That really made me jump, and I hastily waved my hands saying: “I can’t!”

他不相信地看着我说:
He looked at me unbelievingly and said:

“这么细长的手指头,就是个捏棋子儿的,你肯定会。
“Such slender fingers are for picking up chess pieces – you definitely can.

来一盘吧,我带来家伙呢。”
Let’s have a game, I’ve brought a set.”

说着就抬身从窗钩上取下书包,往里掏着。
As he said it he raised himself and took a schoolbag down from the window latch, and rummaged around inside it.

我说:“我只会马走日,象走田。你没人送吗?”
I said: “I can only play zoumari and xiangzoutian. Is nobody seeing you off?”

他已把棋盒拿出来,放在茶几上。
He’d already taken out the chess set and put it on the tea table.

塑料棋盘却搁不下,他想了想,就横摆了,说:
But the plastic chess set wouldn’t stand up; he thought for a moment, then set it horizontally and said:

“不碍事,一样下。来来来,你先走。”
“It doesn’t matter, it’s pretty much the same. Go on, go on, you go first.”

我笑起来,说:“你没人送吗?这么乱,下什么棋?”
I laughed and said: “Is no-one seeing you off? It’s heaving, how can we play chess?”

他一边码好最后一个棋子,一边说:“我他妈要谁送?
As he set up the last chess piece, he said: “Why the fuck would I want someone to see me off?

去的是有饭吃的地方,闹得这么哭哭啼啼的。来,你先走。”
We’re going somewhere with food to eat, but everyone’s blubbing. Go on, you go first.”

我奇怪了,可还是拈起炮,往当头上一移。
I was baffled, but I still picked up a cannon, and moved it one square ahead.

我的棋还没移到,他的马却“啪”的一声跳好,比我还快。
Before I’d finished moving my piece, his knight jumped on it with a ‘bang’, even faster than me.

我就故意将炮移过当头的地方停下。
I deliberately moved the cannon another square on from that before stopping.

他很快地看了一眼我的下巴,说:
He quickly looked at my chin and said:

“你还说不会?这炮二平六的开局,我在郑州遇见一个葛人,就是这么走,险些输给他。
“You said you couldn’t play? This cannon-two-six opening, I happened to meet this eccentric in Zhengzhou who did it like this – I almost lost to him.

炮二平五当头炮,是老开局,可有气势,而且是最稳的。嗯?你走。”
The cannon-two-five opening is an old opening, but it’s intimidating and it’s the most stable. Right? Your go.”

我倒不知怎么走了,手在棋盘上游移着。
I didn’t know what move to make, and my hand hovered over the chessboard.

他不动声色地看着整个棋盘,又把手袖起来。
Without moving or making a sound he looked at the whole chess board, and then put his hands back in his sleeves.

 

就在这时,车厢乱了起来。
It was just at that moment that the carriage went crazy.

好多人拥进来,隔着玻璃往外招手。
A whole load of people swarmed in, waving outside through the glass.

我就站起身,也隔着玻璃往北看月台上。
I stood up, and looked through the glass at the railway platform to the north.

站上的人都拥到车厢前,都在叫,乱成一片。
The people standing on it all swarmed by the carriage, all calling – it was a chaotic scene.

车身忽地一动,人群“嗡”地一下,哭声四起。
The train suddenly started to move; the crowd gasped, and the sound of weeping rose on all sides.

我的背被谁捅了一下,回头一看,他一手护着棋盘,说:
I was poked in the back by someone, and looked behind me to see him guarding the chessboard, saying:

“没你这么下棋的,走哇!”
“Nobody plays chess like you’re doing now – take your move!”

我实在没心思下棋,而且心里有些酸,就硬硬地说:
I really wasn’t in the mood to play chess, and I felt a little sad, so I said harshly:

“我不下了。这是什么时候!”
“I’m not playing! What time is this to play chess?!”

他很惊愕地看着我,忽然像明白了,身子软下去,不再说话。
He looked at me, stunned, and suddenly appeared to understand; his body slumped down and he didn’t say anything else.

 

车开了一会儿,车厢开始平静下来。
After the train had been going for a while, it began to settle down in the carriage.

有水送过来,大家就掏出缸子要水。
Water was being brought round, and everyone took out flasks to ask for water.

我旁边的人打了水,说:“谁的棋?收了放缸子。”
The person next to me got some water and then asked: “Who’s chess pieces are those? Put it away – I want to put my flask there.”

他很可怜的样子,问:“下棋吗?”
Looking pitiful, he asked: “Do you want to play chess?”

要放缸的人说:“反正没意思,来一盘吧。”
The guy who wanted to put down his flask said: “Well, it’s boring either way, let’s have a game.”

他就很高兴,连忙码好棋子。
Then he was very happy, and hurried to set up the pieces at once.

对手说:“这横着算怎么回事儿?没法儿看。”
His opponent said: “What’s it all sideways like this for? You can’t see it properly.”

他搓着手说:“凑合了,平常看棋的时候,棋盘不等于是横着的?你先走。”
He rubbed his hands and said: “It’ll do – normally when you’re watching a game of chess, isn’t the board sideways? You go first.”

对手很老练地拿起棋子儿,嘴里叫着:“当头炮。”
The opponent picked up a piece with an air of experience, saying under his breath, “Cannon to centre block.”

他跟着跳上马。
He immediately jumped it with a knight.

对手马上把他的卒吃了,他也立刻用马吃了对方的炮。
The opponent immediately took his pawn with a knight, and he promptly used a knight to destroy his opponent’s cannon.

我看这种简单的开局没有大意思,又实在对象棋不感兴趣,就转了头。
I found this simple opening to be boring; I’m really not interested in chess, so I turned my head.

 

这时一个同学走过来,像在找什么人,一眼望到我,就说:
At that moment a fellow student walked over as if looking for someone, and as soon as he saw me he said:

“来来来,四缺一,就差你了。”
“Come on, come on, we’re missing one in four – we’re only missing you.”

我知道他们是在打牌,就摇摇头。
I knew they were playing mahjong, and shook my head.

同学走到我们这一格,正待伸手拉我,忽然大叫:
My schoolmate walked up to our compartment, and held out his hand to pull me up, suddenly saying loudly:

“棋呆子,你怎么在这儿?你妹妹刚才把你找苦了,我说没见啊。
“Chess geek, what are you doing here? Your sister was in tears looking for you just now – I said I hadn’t seen you.

没想到你在我们学校这节车厢里,气儿都不吭一声。
I didn’t think you’d be in the carriage for our school, without saying a word.

你瞧你瞧,又下上了。”
But lo and behold, here you are playing chess again.”

 

棋呆子红了脸,没好气地说:
The chess geek went red, and said moodily:

“你管天管地,还管我下棋?走,该你走了。”
“You concern yourself with everything, even me playing chess? Go on, it’s your turn.”

就又催促我身边的对手。
He urged on his opponent who was sitting beside me.

我这时听出点音儿来,就问同学:
At that moment I finally tuned in, and I asked my schoolmate:

“他就是王一生?”
He’s Wang Yisheng?”

同学睁了眼,说:“你不认识他?唉呀,你白活了。
My schoolmate widened his eyes, and said “You don’t know him? Oosh, you’ve led a dull life.

你不知道棋呆子?”
You don’t know about the chess geek?”

我说:“我知道棋呆子就是王一生,可不知道王一生就是他。”
I said: “I know the chess geek is Wang Yisheng, but I didn’t know that he was Wang Yisheng.”

说着,就仔细看着这个精瘦的学生。
As I spoke, I looked carefully at this wiry student.

王一生勉强笑一笑,只看着棋盘。
Wang Yisheng forced a smile, keeping his eyes on the chessboard.

 

Part 1 ·

Further reading