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move up in the rear of the centre; for in this game the King took an active share in the combat, and scorned to shut himself up in a corner as with us.
The position assumed by the Black is evidently defensive. The Knights are less advanced, and the Queen has moved to her B.'s second square. It looks as if Black expected an attack on the Queen's side, which the menacing situation of the White Rooks seems to warrant. Still, from the peculiar nature of the openings in the Shatranj, it is evident that no rapid or brilliant attack could possibly take place as in our Gambits. In the Oriental game the armies were advanced into close quarters before the engagement commenced, and thenceforth the final victory really depended upon a series of skilful manoeuvres, such as might tend to lead the enemy into an unfavourable position. In fact, the Oriental game, though less brilliant than ours, appears to me to have been calculated to form better players in the true sense of the term—that is, players who excelled in carrying the contest through the middle stage of the gamea rare secret, which neither books nor preceptors can teach.
Castling the In fact, I have
From the very nature of the openings in the mediæval game, it is evident that what we call " King," was entirely out of the question. never met with any allusion to this step throughout the whole of the Oriental works on the subject of Chess that have fallen under my notice. Neither have I seen or heard of another privilege of which the King sometimes availed himself in the earlier stages of the modern European Chess-viz., a Knight's move, which he was allowed to make once in the course of a single game. Finally, in a series of Essays on Chess, which appeared in the "New Monthly Magazine," for 1822, it is as
serted that, "five or six centuries ago, the King among us was not allowed to move except when he received a check;" and what is still more singular, if true, we are there told that "about the commencement of the thirteenth century, the Rey had the move of our present King, with the restriction that he could neither move nor take angularly, but always directly"! Now, in the Oriental game, I can safely say that the King was never placed under any such restriction, which would, in fact, amount to a violation of one of the main principles of Chess. I think it much more probable, then, that the able author or authors of the "Essays alluded to, have drawn inferences from the early writers whom they consulted, such as the latter never intended to convey. this opinion I am the more confirmed on examining the various passages which they have adduced in proof of their assertions, passages which, in every instance, tell strongly against them. Let us examine a little more in detail, what they have brought forward on these points.
The first quotation by the authors of the "Essays" is from a Latin MS. in the King's library, where the monkish rhymer, speaking of the King's moves, says, "Ante retroque ferit hostes et sternere quærit." Now, this assuredly does not look much like passiveness or confinement on the part of the King. The meaning is clearly that, "the King smiteth his foes in all directions, and seeketh how he may destroy them." Then there is a quotation from the "Moralitas Innocentii Papae "-viz., "In isto ludo Rex vadit circum quoque directè et capit undique semper directè," &c.1
1 The meaning of “circum quoque directè,” is clearly “in every direction— all around;" and, "capit undique semper directè," signifies that "the King may take straight, or directly, or unhesitatingly, whatever he can safely lay hold of in any of the eight circumjacent squares. The authors, it would appear, have confounded the two terms directè and rectè, which are by no means synonymous.
means that "the King moves about everywhere, unconditionally, and captures the foe in a downright manner. The meaning of the adverb directè is not merely in a straight line, like the Rook, but in a straightforward unceremonious manner, neither crookedly, like the Knight, nor "per insidias," like the Bishop.
Again, we are told, that, "a Latin poem on this game among the MSS. in the Bodleian Library, confirms the belief of the passive power of the Rey, unless driven from his square by an adverse check."
“Contra ipsum [Regem] non audebit nisi Scachum dicere.” Now if this be a specimen of their mode of confirmation, it really confers little strength on the argument. This line is merely part of the sentence, and must be taken in connection with what has gone before, viz.:—
"Habet [Rex] namque potestatem cunctos interimere,
This clearly signifies that" the King has the power to slay or capture any or all [the rest of the pieces]; but none shall dare [to slay or capture him], but simply to check!"
The next quotation by the authors of the "Essays" in support of their position is strangely enough the most complete refutation they could possibly have hit upon. It is from a Hebrew Oration on Chess, by Abben Jachiæ of blessed memory," (v. Hyde, part 2nd, p. 11), viz., "Rex quidem incedendo a domo in domum in dominio suo, unicam legem habet, ut tam obliquè quam rectè1 in cursu suo faciat omnia quæ lubet." "The King in marching from house to house on the board, is guided by only one simple law or rule of conduct, that is, to do all things that please him; (the good old-fashioned
1 Hence arose the popular maxim that, "the King can do no wrong;" a maxim highly approved of by the Bombas and Pio Nonos, and generally acted upon by them in the literal sense.
Tory notion of the kingly office), and that too, both in a direct line, like the Rook, or diagonally like the Queen." Then the author adds-" At non debet exaltari cor ejus ad dilatandum gressus suos in bello ne fortè in bello moriatur." "He ought not to display his valour so far as to rush forward into the mêlée, lest he should get knocked on the head," Now this last is merely a sensible common-place piece of advice well known and acted upon by every good Chess-player since the days of Buzurjmihr. We are told, indeed, that Charles the Twelfth of Sweden despised such timid counsels as the foregoing, both on the mimic war arena of the Chess board, and on the real battle field. Is there one of our readers who does not know the consequence?
The next authority adduced is that of a Hebrew scribe of the 16th century whose name is unknown.1 His Tractate on Chess, entitled "Delicia Regis," will be found in Hyde, pp. 39 to 71. This is the least felicitous of all the references to which the authors of the 'Essays" have had recourse. They call it "An Ancient Hebrew Treatise on the Game!" Now we can very easily prove that it is far from being ancient. In the first place, the author tells us that he composed the work purposely for the benefit of two dissipated young friends that were strongly addicted to card-playing; and we know that card-playing, at least as a popular amusement, is not many centuries old. Secondly, the Israelite describes not the Medieval but the Modern game, as given
1 In a work entitled "Literatur des Schachspiels," by Anton Schmid, 8vo., Wien, 1847, the authorship of this treatise is attributed, I know not on what authority, to "Jedahaiah Hapenini Ben Abraham Badrasi," said to have been born at Barcelona, about A.D. 1250. This is clearly an error, of very easy refutation. In fact Herr Schmid himself, under the article "Delicia Regis," has the words "seu de Shahihidio historia prosaica Anonymi." In his next edition Mr. Schmid may safely say that the author is not only "Anonymous,” but quite modern.
by Ruy Lopez. Lastly, and what is of particular importance, he allows the King the privilege of Castling,1 and he further tells us that the Pawns may, at pleasure, move one or two squares at starting! Now, had the authors of the "Essays" carefully perused this work, they would have found the strongest reasons for concluding that so far from being an "Ancient Treatise," the author could not have composed it till about the middle of the sixteenth century. I may here add, that the writer of the "Delicia," whoever he was, bears a strange resemblance in style, sentiments, absurdity, and egotism, to the effusions of the anonymous author of the Asiatic Society's MS. already described. These peculiarities will be further noticed when we come to treat of Timūrs "Great Chess."
Finally, in the third volume of the Chess Player's Chronicle (p. 127), we have a problem from the Museum MS. 7,515, which is intended as a decisive proof that up to about the thirteenth century, the King was permitted to move only when checked, and then his range of action, either to escape or capture an enemy, was confined to one square in a right line-he could neither move nor take angularly!!! As this problem still further exhibits to us the peculiarities of the Medieval game we shall here insert it, and see how far it bears out the idea of this imaginary law of Chess, among our ancestors.
1 By the term "Castling" I mean the modern mode of castling, which is not older than the first half of the sixteenth century. The words are "Si visus sit locus aliquis inter ipsum (Regem sc.) et Ruchum suum, vel Ruchum Regine; poterit concedere ad domum unius eorum; et Ruch stabit juxta ipsum ad instar muri ahenei munitissimi."
2 "Cum initio proficiscuntur, Pedes incedit primo, quorum pes est pes rectus per domum post domum recta tendunt; nec revertuntur cum incedunt; quamvis in principio sit illis privilegium eundi per duas domos." Hyde, p. 65.