Friday, April 13, 2007

Chess as a (Royal) game

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I WAS browsing over a book, The Complete Chess Addict , a collaboration by Mike Fox and Richard James, during the Holy Week and I was astounded at the amount of information it contains, including games by famous people such as the legendary Aladdin, Humprey Bogart, Che Guevara, Leo Tolstoy, Karl Marx and many others.

It also has a tremendous amount of trivia which I would like to share with you, readers.

Pinoy Votes: Sun.Star Election 2007

Shah Jehan (1627-1658) is known for his massive construction projects such as the Red Fort, and Jama Masjid, both in Delhi.

But the most famous of them all is the Taj Mahal, a massive white marble mausoleum constructed for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, along the bank of the Jamuna River in Agra.

It took nearly a decade to build.

Shah Jehan was an avid chess player and sometimes played with living pieces, reputedly 32 virgins.

According to some sources the winner took the virgins as prize. If it happens here most of the members of Cepca will fight tooth and nails with each other just to play.

Another Royal who also played with living pieces, this time palace maids, was the Emperor Ming Huan (712-56) against his favorite concubine Yang Kwei-fei.

You might be interested to know that the great Akbar, Shah Jehan‘s grand father, who developed the Mughal Empire played chess on a giant board ( it still exist at Fatehfur Sikri) with elephants as pieces and horses as pawns.

However, all these are tame compared to King Muley Hassan of Morocco.

His contribution was to use prisoners from the Royal dungeon as pieces. It would be on prime time TV today, beating even Manny Pacquiao fights as the captured pieces are beheaded right on the spot. What made the whole thing even bloodier was that according to legend his favorite opening was the Danish Gambit.

An amusing anecdote was the game between Henry IV, the first of the Bourbons and Francois de Bassompierre, Marshall of France.

Francois shocked the court, himself and the King by breaking wind involuntarily while making a knight move.

With his future hanging in shreds, he still had the presence of mind to say “Your Majesty, my knight will not move if he does not hear the trumpet call.”

The King, it is recorded, made a wintry smile.

King Canute, the first King of all England (the one who commanded the tide to stop), was a sore loser.

He was playing Earl Ulf of Denmark when he blundered, losing a knight. Imperiously he tried to take the move back, but Ulf did not agree.

After a vigorous debate, the Earl knocked the board down. It was literally a fatal chess blunder as the King had him slain for arguing.

The award for best defensive player goes to Prince Valdemar of Denmark. The story goes that he was playing chess with King Knut V when they were attacked by a rival King.

Knut was killed but Valdemar escaped by employing a rarely used side defense— he used the chessboard as shield.
Another homicide in chess happened to Charlemagne‘s nephew, Berthelot.

Renaud de Montauban, a French knight fed up with losing, chose as his particular blunt instrument, a golden chessboard.
He smote Berthelot “so hard that he clubbed him to the teeth,” says Caxton.

King Conchubair of Ireland seems to have his priorities right.

According to Irish legend, he divided his day into three— one third for drinking, one third for fighting and one third to play chess.

CEPCA NEWS. According to Mat Matuco, president of the club, our April tournament will be on Sunday at Stella Maris starting at 1p.m.

The Kiddies and Junior tournaments will also be held simultaneously at the same venue.

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