How about a nice game of chess!

A Story behind my Chess Pieces – replica’s of the original (circa 1150 -1200)

Okay this is very interesting to me …

… And if you are female you will also find this most interesting, possibly even illuminating.

First though, today’s title is a key line from an older movie called “War Games” where a self aware computer finally figures out that nobody wins when there’s war, so the computer says (at the end of the movie to his creator) … “How about a nice game of chess”. I couldn’t resist making that the title.

Second, my purpose with this blog is to share those things I’ve discovered through personal experience and research. My byline is “curiouser and curiouser” (another classic line, this time a quote from ‘Alice’ from the book, Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Caroll note here – The author did not mind being grammatically incorrect. He was obviously inclined to go with being creative with the word usage to emphasize a point 🙂 ).

So here’s the thing that’s curious, in chess guess who is the strongest, most capable piece in the game? The Queen! Yup! The King (when on the chessboard) is standing right next to her, with sword in hand no less. So why is the Queen the one that has such a wide variety of moves at her disposal? The “power” so to speak?

The chess pieces (photographs I took last night) are very unique. I purchased this ‘specially’ made set some time ago. They are an exact duplicate of chess pieces found on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland under mysterious circumstances. They were found sometime before April 1831 which is when they were first exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland. It is believed that the chess pieces were found by a farmer in a small dry-stone chamber inside a sand dune.

The originals are elaborately carved pieces from walrus ivory and whales teeth.

It is now assumed that they were probably made in Norway between the years 1150-1200. The appearance of the different figures (stay with me here I’ll get to the point soon) are northern in their character and strongly influenced by Norse culture. Why would I purchase these?

It is because my father told me that not only was my heritage Norwegian but also Celtic. There are fairly strong ties to both in that area of the world, hence my fascination.

There’s more to this story so if you’re on time restraints go ahead and hit the “like” button and move onto the next blog, it’s okay I don’t mind, really… Of course then you will never know “the Why About This! lol

So why is the Queen the one with all the power (and would you look at the expression on her face, Oh-My-Gosh! I’m guessing she knows she’s in charge, lol). And for those astute individuals who are just now noticing that those pieces look awfully familiar – a replica of these same chess pieces was used in the Harry Potter Movies!

The answer to the question is that from a his-torical perspective (notice in most cases that history is from “his perspective not “hers”, just saying…) in the middle ages the Queen – in the game – begins to take on more power. There is no 100% “for sure” reason to account for this change so it does make one wonder why the female (in the game of course) would have the most maneuverability.

My final answer. The Queen is the game changer. Not only does she protect the king, She (we females) think and respond in a manner that lends itself well to change. As our past shows. Through adversity and strife we still keep ‘keeping on’ don’t we. We just don’t give up!

I’m guessing that we ‘as women’ should be pretty proud of all of our ancestors. Proud of who and how we are, proud of overcoming some of our adversities to date and of course very capable of continuing on in the same path for the future of our children, our families, our people and our planet – therefore I say with hope and confidence – checkmate!


Thanks for the visit, I hope your week begins well for you,

~ Penny

Copyright © 2012 by Penny l Howe

45 thoughts on “How about a nice game of chess!

  1. Love the game of chess…absolutely stimulating:>) My husband and I kept the chess board set up and played, played, played. I did not know the game very well so as we played I began to learn more and more about the actually strategy behind the game. He would beat me nearly every game and made the comment one day when I won that “he let me win!” Well, that just did not set very well so I studied his every move, even more so than my on. Aha! it paid off…I begin to win…and I won, and I won, and I won. Now, he doesn’t want to play any more:>( *sigh*

  2. Chess, fantastic, lovely pieces too. Haven’t had a game in years. There is so much history to it, and it is great how it really is a global game with endless fascination, it beats Cluedo hands down. I quite like women myself and add them to an awesome game, piece of literature and a cheesy film and you have me smiling all the way to comments box. By the way I read the post the whole way through because I am great.

  3. this was so informative: the post the, thoughts, and the conversation you had with your friends…your thoughts about chess(one of my favorites even on the computer) is pretty new … and i go with what you think about the Queen … by the way, in the eastern world it is not > a queen it is >>>> the prime minister … !!!! it seemed ancestors needed no queens in such games, they though women always mess up things… what a petty? !!!!!

  4. You will enjoy my post April 13, 2011. I am familiar with this set. Adds a lot of intrigue and romance to the game. There was a time when the Roman Catholic Church outlawed to game and a ship was used to replace the bishop.

  5. Hello Penny – how interesting, I had the same set of chess pieces, and particularly love the frightened berserker! Had to have a chess board specially made to house the pieces since they’re so big.
    I gave the whole set to my son a few years ago.

    Your interpretation of the Queen’s role was fascinating, and yes… women have always held things together, haven’t they!.

    • Yes we do! I’m glad you were able to pass the pieces and board along to your son Valerie. Both my daughter and son play and their children! 🙂 A good thing, learning strategy!

  6. LOL – I always read all the way through.
    If I was a queen on a chess game- I would be beheaded. I truly think I wouldn’t last being subservient to man back in those days.

  7. What an exquisite chess set. I saw this title come up on twitter, and had to stop posting my own photo of the day to read this. I love chess. (My own set – ) But, I digress. I was given a chess set for Christmas in 1980. This was a hand carved wooden Chess/Draughts set. I was very particular about this set. Unfortunately I left it somewhere that it is impossible for me to retrieve it from.

    This set that you have, exactly the same one is on display in Dover Castle.

    My view is that the King needs protecting, and who should do it best, but the one who knows him the most. The King is the ruler and (in the game of Chess) leads from the rear where everything can protect him. So the Queen, as second in command has the abilities of two of the other main pieces. Only the knights (being “Sir” and having their own commands) are exempt from the queen taking this as they have their own orders. The Bishop and the Rook come under immediate control of the Royalty. As such the lowly warriors, or pawns, try really hard to emulate their Queen so they can take the battle to the enemy in a greater way.

    That’s my opinion anyway 🙂

    • Your chess set is excellent, Alastair. Also your opinions. Good take. It is a mystery however re: the chess pieces origin. That of course fascinates me when you know that chess looks to date way way back to the middle east. Also right around the time of the making of these chess pieces the Vikings were exploring around the edges of what is now Afghanistan (Viking Runes have been found there), Also where the Celts were said to have hung out for awhile, like I said curiouser and curiouser. I love history, you may have noticed this! 🙂

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