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Occasionally a piece remains incomplete. In the yearbook of student Renya Larson at the 1992 Vermont Governor’s Institute for the Arts, I wrote the short piece Noma. It was a near-perfect miniature, premiered a decade later in Amsterdam by the legendary flutist Ned McGowan. Noma was a successful miniature, but seemed to cry for more—and the cry became more intense on the death of my wife’s father in 2004. The composition suddenly grew into Shahmat—the origin of the word checkmate, meaning ‘the king is dead’. It became a piece to memorialize chess master John Balch, while created for the skills of flutist and composer Su Lian Tan. The mysterious Noma expands into a series of quasi-improvisations with running, jazzy figures that erupt from the simple melody.