perhaps also the absence of any technical literature on the game or records of its problems, has prevented its development to any high degree of skill in the land of its origin. There have been few strong players in India, although some form of chessoften a four- handed game, or a game played with the assistance of dice as an element of luckis universal. Persia, however, so far adopted the game that for many years it was credited with having originated chess. It has been played for hundreds of years, and is played almost universally to-day in China, Japan, the Korea, Malay and Sumatra, and the Moslem countries, besides Europe and America. Its coming to Europe seems to have been first by way of Spain, where it was brought by Moslem con querors, then to Italy from Byzantine sources. Until 1500 (circa) the European and Moslem games were almost identical, but the Moslem player was always unwilling to modify the rules of play in any way, whereas the European began at once to make any changes which promised to give a better game. By 1600, therefore, the two styles of chess play were strongly defined. Changes of nomenclature among the different pieces had already appeared during the Persian adoption, but in European hands they were carried much farther, and as the chessmen received new identities, so their shapes altered, and with the change of shape came very often a modification of the rules of play. For example, the placing of the pieces on the board was first governed by the usual mode of disposing an oriental army, where the elephants were always assigned a position on the flank. But in Europe, where the elephant was practically un known, and the word "al-ffl" conveyed no meaning to the player, the identity of this piece was presently con fused with that of a Bishop (generally known at that period by the title "Aufin"). In France the word was subject to an alternative corruption by its association with the title of Dauphin. It is easy to see how these variations occurred, and it is equally easy, then, to understand how the game which began by representing a battle developed into a game representing a state. The struggle throughout the whole of Europe of the time between small state and small state, in which the king's supporters, spiritual and temporal, took a part and were rewarded for their fidelity, was quickly identi fied with the intrigues and diplomatic manoeuvring of the chess board. The person of the Ferz, by natural connection in a western country, became the queen; the change of sex was made easy by the verbal corruption of Ferz into 200 "vierge," quickly disseminated through a French- speaking world. The two words Ferz and Quene were nevertheless interchangeable for a considerable time. Chaucer, in his Book of the Duchesse, notes the diffi culty of continuing play when the Quene is lost: "My boldnesse is turned to shame For false fortune hath played a game At chesse with me. At the chesse with me she gan to play With her false draughts full divers She stole on me and toke my fers And whan I sawe my fers away Alas I couth no longer play." The chariot of the eastern army became the castle of the western monarch. The horse became identified with the only mounted soldier in the age of chivalrythe knight. With these changes of name, and changes of form, the rules governing the disposition and moves of an army no longer held their rigidity over the diplomacy of a state. The position of the pieces and their moves were modified to improve the game. It was in Europe, for example, that the privilege of "castling" was first introduced. Then, as at all times and in all countries, there were two types of chessmen in use. For the "nobility and gentry and crowned heads of Europe" cunning designers were found to produce wonderfully realistic carvings of the different "men." For the ordinary devotee with little wealth a conventional set existed, in which the differ ent pieces were distinguishable chiefly by differences in height, although it is notable that in very many cases some slight suggestion of a horse's head or the plume of a knight's helmet was given to that particular piece. The carved men were generally made in some precious materialrock crystal, ivory, jasper, amber, ebony, etc., and in connection with the morality of the game it is odd to note how often a set of crystal chessmen was bequeathed in the early Middle Ages to a monastery or a famous shrine for its treasure. The most striking instance is Cnut's bequest of crystal chessmen to Hyde Abbey in Winchester. Simultaneously, many fathers of the Church were heard denouncing the game of chess as a licentious and time-wasting indulgence. Among the Jewish fra ternity it was also seriously debated whether chess might or might not be played by the devout. By 1119, at least, however, a favourable decision seems to have been reached, for Rabbi Aben-Ezra "the Wise" wrote a Hebrew poem on chess which was translated into Latin, Spanish and German. And this was followed in course of time by the

Industrial Arts en | 1936 | | page 40