The OFFICIALunOFFICIAL English Bulldog Mascot

For A Good Time– Chess!

In Chess in the Classoom, Children's Literacy, History, K-12 Education, Thats' Life, Volunteering on April 20, 2010 at 12:00 AM

❝Chess makes kids smart❞ –Chessmaster Jerry Meyers

Have you ever played chess? Did you know that chess is the oldest skill game in the world? But chess is more than just a game of skill. It can tell you much about the way people lived in medieval times.

If you look at the way a chess board is set up then study the pieces and how they are used, you will realize that chess is a history of medieval times in miniature.

The six (6) different chess pieces on the board represent a cross section of medieval life with its many ceremonies, grandeur and wars.

Chess was played many centuries ago in China, India and Persia. No one really knows for sure in which country it originated.

Then, in the eighth century, armies of Arabs known as Moors invaded Persia. The Moors learned chess from the Persians. When the Moors later invaded Spain, the soldiers brought the game of chess with them. Soon the Spanish were playing chess, too. From Spain, chess quickly spread throughout all of Europe.

Europeans gave chess pieces the names we know today; they probably had trouble pronouncing and spelling the Persian names so they modernized them to reflect the way they lived.

Today, the names are certainly not modern but a thousand years ago they represented the very way in which both ordinary People and persons of rank lived their lives.

Pawns on the chess board represent serfs, or laborers. There are more of them than any other piece on the board and often they are sacrificed to save the more valuable pieces. In medieval times, serfs were considered no more than property of landowners, or chattel like the slaves were here in America.

Life was brutally hard for serfs during this era of history. They worked hard and died young. They were often left unprotected while wars raged around them. They could be traded, used as a diversion, or even sacrificed to allow the landowners to escape harm.

The castle piece on a chess board is the home or refuge, just as it was a home in medieval times. In chess, each side has two castles or Rooks, as they are sometimes called.

The Knight on a chess board represents the professional soldier of medieval times whose job it was to protect persons of rank. There are two Knights for each side in a game of chess.

Knights in a game of chess are more important than pawns but less important than Bishops, Kings, or Queens. Their purpose in the game of chess is to protect the more important pieces and they can be sacrificed to save those pieces just as pawns can.

The Bishop in the game of chess represents the church. The church was a rich and powerful force in medieval times and religion played a vital part in the lives of every day People. It is no wonder that a figure representing religion found its way into the game.

A bishop is the name for a priest in the Catholic church who had risen through the ranks to a more powerful position. In the game of chess, there are two bishops for each side.

The Queen is the only piece in chess that represents a woman. She is the most powerful piece of the game. In the game of chess, there is only one queen for each side.

Many people do not realize that queens in medieval times often held a powerful, yet precarious position. The king was often guided by her advice and in many cases the queen played manipulative games of intrigue at court.

But kings could abandon wives, even imprison them in nunneries against their wills with the approval of the church and many women close to the Queen schemed to take her place.

The machinations of queens working either for or against their kings are well documented in history throughout medieval times. Often, she held more power than the king did.

The King is the tallest piece on the board and is well defended on the chessboard. In medieval times, the surrender of the king would mean the loss of the kingdom to invading armies and that could mean change for the worse. It was to everyone’s advantage, from the lowest serf to the highest-ranking official, to keep the king safe from harm. The king is the most important, but not the most powerful piece in chess. If you do not protect your king, you lose the game.

Interesting, huh? So the next time you set up your chessboard and get ready to play a friendly game or two, think of chess as a history lesson.

Chess.  It’s a fun game and it makes you smart.

Goodwill Energies I direct
Toward each and every one of you
Each and every day

And there came to be evening and there came to be morning

That's life, today!

Find out more about the academic benefits of chess in schools by clicking on the image of the chess pieces here:

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  1. Looks as though you had a super day playing chess and listening to great kids read stories to you. One day you will have to teach my dad how to play chess too.

  2. I played Chess because it’s fun, cooperative, and always a good game. I like playing Chess.

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