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March 21, 2006

The Story of Chess

How does one introduce chess to a young child? A friend of mine does it by telling a little story. As he tells the story, he places the pieces on the chess board in their proper place.

My friend has never written his story down, but he recited some of it to me once. What follows is my attempt to tell the story as he might have. As you will clearly see, I am not a talented creative writer, so I invite you to improve upon any element of this story in your comments or else to publish your own version as an article. Here goes:

How Chess Came to Be

Once upon a time, a young nobleman wanted to become a prince. When he grew to manhood, he left his town in search of a kingdom to be his very own. He journeyed for many months and found at last a good land in need of a good king.

The first thing he decided to do was build a castle. Two great towers soon rose on the east and the west, and the prince called them "rooks" because giant crows called rooks loved to build their nests on the high battlements.

Next he needed someone to protect his castle, so he sent word far and wide for knights errant to come and join his cause. He gave these knights lodging right beside the rooks they had sworn to defend.

And because the young king was wise beyond his years, he realized he should seek out counselors to advise him on affairs of state. He called his counselors "bishops" because they were to become overseers of his vast lands. He gave his favorite bishop a place of honor at his side.

Finally the king decided it was not good to rule alone. He sent his bishops in search of a young woman to stand beside him as well and to become his queen. After a long quest, they found the perfect lady. The king loved her so dearly that he made her the most influential person in his kingdom.

When the people of the land saw the wonderful castle and court, they decided to build their village just in front of it. They called themselves "pawns" because they depended upon the king's wisdom and protection.

Such a fine land could easily support more than one kingdom. In time, another lord, known as "the black prince," came and established a realm very similar to that of the first king. A friendly rivalry naturally grew up between the two courts. Eventually, they agreed upon a contest whose aim was to capture as many of the other kingdom's citizens as possible, as much of their territory as possible, and, ultimately, to surround and trap the rival king himself.

This competition became known as "chess" because when the white king first asked the black king if he were interested in such a competition, he replied in heavily accented English "Chess, indeed!" All the participants enjoyed these lively contests so much that as soon as each had ended, they would return to their positions all set to begin the competition anew.

And that is how a game called chess came to be.

About March 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Trite but True in March 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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