DESIGN HAS GOVERNED THE GAME
WITH SOME NOTES ON THE STAUNTON CHESSMEN
J. M. OLDFIELD
Chess, the most cosmopolitan game in existence,
which boasts the greatest quantity of literature and
literary allusions, and perhaps one of the longest and
most noble of family trees, is a particularly good
So far before the Christian era has this game been
played that its invention has been at various times
seriously ascribed to Japheth, Shem, Solomon, the wife
of Ravan King of Ceylon, Xerxes, Palamedes, Hermes,
Aristotle, Semiramis, the Brahmin Sissa, and
Shatrenscha, the famous Persian astronomer.
It is, in fact, of Hindu origin, and, while it remained an
oriental pastime, was a "Battle Game" par excellence.
European modes of thought, together with a misappre
hension regarding the meanings of the piece-names,
gave it later a "moral" aspect.
At first, however, the choice of pieces and the mode of
play were primarily dominated by the idea of a battle
field where, under equal conditions, two or more
antagonists might test their skill in strategy.
The king (Persian Shah) gives his name to the whole
game. His counsellor (the Farz or Ferzthe latter a
Parsee word) stands next to him in influence. Their
army (chaturanga) is divided, after the oriental
fashion, into four ranks (angas) of elephants (al-fil)
warriors in chariots (rukh), horses, and foot soldiers.
The game was always directed to the confounding of
the opposing King. Shah matthe king helpless.
Diversity in the rules of play throughout the country,
The soundness of the design of
the Staunton Chessmen has
established this as the standard
design wherever the European
form of the game is played. Only
slight modifications have been
necessary for quantity production.
FROM THE ASPECT OF INDUSTRIAL ART IT IS INTEREST
ING to trace how the form of the instrument used in
playing a game has influenced the style of play, and to
see how often it has happened that the skilful modifica
tions of the designer have been reflected, through the
development of the instrument, in the progress of the
Ancient Indian Chessmen
Modern Indian Chessmen