Creativity: The sea-horse's knight in shining armour

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The Independent Culture
OUR request for creative uses for chessmen produced enough replies to use up several sets and the board as well. The knight emerged as potentially the most versatile piece, with several used as gnomes in pot plants, bonsai gardens or window boxes, writes William Hartston.

Isobel Montgomery Campbell dangled her knights in a fish tank as 'a surrogate friend for lonely sea- horses', or a 'sort of sea-horse scarecrow'. She also tells us that physiotherapists use pawns to be picked up in the toes to strengthen foot muscles.

Lorna McKnight, despite her name, did not restrict her suggestions to the horsey pieces but proposed stringing several chessmen together to make an attractive mobile, or using them individually as guests in a doll's house.

Sue Rowlands suggested hanging them around the brim of your sun-hat 'Aussie-style', or for large outdoor pieces 'push one firmly into the sand and tether your dog to it'. She also suggests (as this week's 'let's be beastly to Yorkshire terriers' item) that a standard-size piece would suffice for that breed.

Oddly, the last item anyone suggested might be used as a tethering post for dogs was Norman Lamont, which ties in well with Sam Rowlands' suggestion of using chess pieces to replace the Conservative Party. He also thinks they would make good doorknobs (the chessmen, not the Conservatives).

In R Bannerman's experience, the cleft in the bishop's mitre makes it ideal 'for one's manservant to bring in the morning post. Larger bishops may serve as single-slice toast racks.' His knights become bottle openers.

Don Cameron produced the most complete list, using the king and queen as a salt and pepper set, the rooks as trendy ear-rings, the knight as a paperweight or a spare piece in a 'Jurassic Park' board game. The bishop as lightning conductor on a Lego building or a replacement car lighter, and the pawns as Subbuteo footballers, a megaphone for Action Man, or a pawnbroker's sign.

Len Clarke finds a use for the board 'to serve as a map of what quite a lot of white people in South Africa mean when they talk about the new, multi- racial South Africa'.

Finally, Stephen Tilley gives another sighting of the number 42, quoting his headmaster back in the 1950s who claimed that 'adulthood started at 21, middle age began at 42, and old age began at 63'. He asks if anyone else has come across this.

For this week's object, we have chosen an old favourite of creativity testers, a paper-clip. If you have any real or imaginary creative uses for paper-clips, please send them to: Creativity, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.