Page images
PDF
EPUB

avoid capture. He was, indeed, the is impossible to think that this change most powerful piece on the board, for can have been Indian in origin. The at the same period of history the most feasible explanation, and the one queen, or rather the piece which cor- which will bear the closest examinaresponded to the present queen, could tion, is the following: The word only move one square at a time in a "firz,” or “farz,” became corrupted as diagonal direction. Castling is, com- the game spread westwards, aud beparatively speaking, a modern innova- came firzia," or "farzia.” Various tion, and serves perhaps to exemplify similar forms are to be found in me trickiness in war. It replaced the diæval MSS. The game of draughts is king's knight's move.

also very old; perhaps the Greek TEOOOL The history of chess appears to have are the direct lineal ancestors of the followed the constitutional history of present game. The game of draughts India with some exactitude as regards was well known in Europe, particularly the development and powers of the va- in France, in the fifteenth and sixrious pieces. The word “queen,” it teenth centuries, and in its method of should be remembered, is somewhat play did not differ materially from the of a misnomer; the original word was game as at present played. "firz," or "farz," which means a "coun- The French word for a draught cillor" or "generalissimo" of the male is a "dame." In common English, sex.

however,

"draughtsman" and not In many Indian States—Nepaul is a "draughtswoman" is the word in gengood example at the present moment, eral use. In draughts, when a "dame" the real power lies in the hands of the reaches the eighth square, she becomes Prime Minister, who is also, in the par- a queen or king. In exactly the same ticular instance cited, the Commander- way when a pawn in chess reaches the in-Chief of the Forces. It might seem opponent's side of the board, it bepossible that as the real power slowly comes a "farz," or "farzia.” The femslipped from the hands of the ruling ininity of the most powerful piece on monarch himself, and became vested the board can be accounted for by the gradually in the Prime Minister and close resemblance of the two games in Commander-in-Chief-a position which, this particular. Indeed, old MSS. are curiously enough, is hereditary in some extant in which the words “regina" and cases—the game of chess was altered "ferzia" used indiscriminately, to meet these altered circumstances. meaning a “queen." This fact pracThus the king, stripped of most of his tically confirms the curious confusion offensive power, still remains the most of origin. It may be that the inimportant person, whose capture ter- tellectual coterie of some bygone age minates the game; but in his fighting intended a delicate compliment to a capacity he no longer exists on the great militant queen by the alteration board, the whole of his powers being to the sex of the king's chief adviser handed over to his chief adviser. in the great military game of chess.

The reason the "firz" should Some indeed might say that, at the have developed into female in present day, such a compliment would modern chess is an interesting study not be out of place—due, however, to in comparative history. Certain it is the ephemeral glory of those Amazons, that in no country in the world do the Suffragettes. Some authorities women occupy such an inferior posi- have it that the queen derived her tion in every day life as in India. They great power from a similar analogy to are child-bearers and nothing else. It the game of draughts.

are

а

move

some

But the history of the other pieces, of the fighting line in battle, as Carthaexcept, perhaps, the knights, is not so ginian history clearly indicates. Also clear. The two knights are obviously elephants do take the place of bishthe horsemen of the contending hosts. ops in some Indian sets of chessmen, Horses are to be found all over the and the writer has bimself played with East. But the meaning of the "two such a set. hops and a jump" move by which these Oxen have never, probably, found a mounted warriors career over the board place in the line of battle, though they is obscure. It may be conjectured would be common enough in the comthat, after the castle and the bishop missariat department of the armies of had been assigned their moves in the old. If the Hindustani word “Alephearly days these two pieces could only hind" is to be accepted as only mean

two steps at time either ing an "ox," a difficulty arises as to straight up and down the board or di- the Indian origin of the piece as well as agonally across it), which have been of the game itself. The word may of the same type throughout all the have meant any large beast, and possuccessive centuries,

different sibly bore a special significance when move had to be found for these horse- used in connection with the game of men. As a result the fertile brain of chess. The elephant origin certainly the inventor conceived the strange appears the most probable. Bishops move which is a stumbling-block to could only make two steps at a time so many beginners. The fact that in along their diagonals, but, like the the earliest days neither queen, bishop, knight, could jump over the intervennor castle could sweep the board in ing piece. The curious result folthe same manner as they do at present lowed that two opposing bishops of must not be forgotten in the search for like color moving on the same diagthe origin of the quaint knight's move. onal could never attack one another.

The pawn is the common foot-sol- It was not until the sixteenth century dier; as first arranged, a pawn could that such revolutionary changes in the only make one move at a time, straight movements of the king, queen, bishop, forward, even for his first move. The and, in fact, of all the pieces, except the reason for the double step which a knight, were adopted, as exemplified pawn can make at will when moving in the present condition of the game. from off his own square is probably to The bishops may be of French oribe found in the fact that the game was gin. In the early days the fighting thus opened up more quickly. The bishops, crusaders and other fighting word "pawn” is identical with the religious devotees, formed one of the common Hindustani “peon," or private most important elements in any army, policeman.

and doubtless were incorporated in the The bishop is a most interesting game of war, when elephants were no piece. The Arabic word which repre longer used in battle; and possibly as sents a "bishop" is "Alfil”-otherwise a compliment to the fighting prowess Aleph-hind, the Indian ox. But the of the ancient religious fighting orders. Arabic alphabet lacks the letter "p." The rook or castle is a very doubtful As a consequence the Persian word quantity. The earliest parchments "pil"=an elephant, became "Alfil," or refer to this piece as a "rukh," a Per"fil" as it is sometimes written in sian word meaning a "knight comArabic.

mander"-a superior kind of person to Elephants are to be found all over the ordinary knight—but as the balIndia, and undoubtedly formed a part ance of probability indicates an Indian

use

а

as

origin for both the game itself and the change rendered desirable to suit the men, this derivation should be re- altered conditions of warfare. It is a ceived with some caution.

pity, however, that in the military If ancient history can be taken as a game of chess, where every piece poscriterion—which certainly appears a sesses both an offensive and defensive justifable course the rook might have power, due to the particular moves asdegenerated from the war chariot. signed to each, a stationary object, This deduction is strengthened by the such as a castle, should have formed writer's experience in Rangoon, related the image upon which to model the below. Chariots were quite usual as original “rulik" or the still earlier charweapons of warfare in all countries of iot. An explanation may be found in the world, and although they died out the confusion which would arise should before the power of Rome reached its both rook and knight be represented as zenith, yet Italy, Greece and Asia

horsemen

on the same board. It Minor would not be such favora- would be difficult to differentiate one ble countries for the

of from the other; but if this were the vehicle of this description in war- case, it is a still greater pity that the fare the flat plains of In- chariot form did not re-appear in subdia. A very long period is thus left- stitute so as to preserve the ancient much longer than in the case of all the origin of the game. other pieces-for the action of confus- Some authorities have it that the ing influences to baffle the efforts of rook or castle of to-day is the elephant subsequent inquiries in their historical of the chatauranga of long ago; and research. One of the most ancient that the castellated form is dụe to the Sanscrit manuscripts alludes to the howdah, adorning the elephant's back, four great divisions of a fighting army the elephant itself having disappeared. as horse, foot, elephants and chariots; Against this, however, the etymology and, additionally, the Sanscrit word of the word rook must be set, which is for a chariot is "ratha." Thus the undoubtedly the equivalent of the Sanfour great elements in chess-knights, scrit Ratha = chariot. pawns, bishops and castles—would A short time ago the writer had a correspond to these four ancient types. curious experience in one of the byPossibly "ratha" and "rukh” are allied. streets of Rangoon, which, so far as it

The move of the castle, which has went, confirmed the “chariot" theory of been the same throughout all history, the castle. Quite by chance points to the same conclusion. An- stopped before a native shop and, to cient chariots had no traces; the horses his surprise, saw a dozen men-all nawere only attached to the central pole. tives, but of every nationality-seated As a consequence there must have been round a chess-board. Out of curiosity a great deal of difficulty in wheeling he stepped within, and was promptly them, especially in the mad excitement made most welcome an unusual expeof battle, when the animals would be rience after the bazaars of India.

He more difficult to control. May it not sat down and watched the game in be that the straightforward motion of progress for a few minutes, but it was the chariot is reflected in the direct the chessmen themselves which atmotion of the castle of the present day tracted his attention particularly. in its solid swoop up and down or Made of ivory and teak, these old men across the board ?

were battered and broken almost bePerbaps the modern castellated form yond belief, but the original form could is also derived from the French, a still be distinguished in spite of great

he

disfigurement. The bishops were quite tively sure, and in such circumstances. obviously elephants; but the knights, no close examination of the pieces king and queen had nothing remark could be made. able about them. It was the castles Most unfortunately no further opporwhich struck the eye at once. They tunity presented itself to examine this appeared like a small three-sided box ancient set of men, which was a matwith sloping sides, mounted on stands ter of great regret to the writer. of a much later date than the "box" The aeroplane and machine gun of structure itself. The fourth side of the future may, some time, replace the the box was non-existent altogether; bishop and rook of to-day; but the past but the chariot form was suggested by history of this most delightful of all this appearance.

games, is, it is to be feared, lost in the So battered and broken were they mists of time. that it was not possible to be posi

0. Paul Monckton. The Contemporary Review.

CHARLIE OVER THE WATER.

BY JANE H. FINDLATER.
VI.

feared he could not rest there that You would have thought that noth

his uneasy

ghost would somehow ing could have put strength enough have to recross the ocean to "walk" for into the Widow's poor old limbs to ever round the dear home of his childrise from her sick-bed and start off hood. “I won't be hindering you, once again on the "terrible long road" mother," he said at last. "Maybe for home. Yet with the hope of home you're right." came the strength to try to reach it. Charlie's wife was palpably de

In vain Charlie protested against lighted to be getting rid of her motherthe proposed journey, using every argu- in-law, though in her husband's presment he knew to make his mother stay ence she begged her to make a longer with him. She would only make one stay. But the Widow was all impareply: "I'm wanting home, Charlie; I tience to be off. She seemed filled cannot be staying, I wouldn't be rest- with a feverish strength, and declared ing in the strange earth.” It seemed herself quite ready to start whenever natural enough to Charlie, after all- Hector was willing to do so. too well he understood her feeling, It was with a heavy heart that the though he tried to argue it down. А poor lad saw that there was no escapelittle desolate graveyard stood on a bit from the path of renunciation, and realof rising ground half-way to Cypress ized what it meant for him. Creek. Wooden crosses marked the In a fortnight's time, or thereabouts, graves in this stoneless land for a few he would be back again on the Island, years' time; then they fell to pieces and with only the croft to work, the cow were never replaced. Many a time to herd, and with the long idle winter had Charlie shuddered as he passed opening out before him with its disthe place, fearing some day to be laid maying vista of emptiness. All one in that alien earth, under the blinding night Hector lay awake in an agony sun, in a forgotten grave. The Celtic of despair. At one moment he thought strain of ineradicable superstition was of begging Charlie to take his mother strong within him; like his mother, he home, and let him stay to work the.

rus.

place in his absence. But he quickly warm autumn night. He sauntered realized that a travelling companion along the fields to the edge of the clearwas not all that the Widow needed; she ing and sat on the fence to rest. The could never be left alone in her old age frogs were chanting in the swamps - with no one to work the croft or look with their curious solemn note, and after her, and Charlie could not stay away across the clearing in one of the with her always. Then another pos- negro cabins someone thrummed on a sible loophole of escape suggested it- little stringed instrument. Then the self: would there be enough of money soft negro voices began to sing in cho to take them home again? The fifty

Hector knew by this time the pounds had dwindled down amazingly. pensive old words that they were singBut this hope was quickly extin- ing; but to-night they seemed to bear guished.

another meaning to him: "I'll be paying for anything extra,

Swing low, swing low, sweet char-i-ot, Hector," Charlie said. "And, mind,

Comin' for to carry me home. you must take her home comfortably

He -- she's not fit for much now."

rose impatiently and walked Hector felt ashamed to feel his own

away; but the plaintive chorus of the

hymn carried far in the quiet nightdisappointment at these words. Every

he could not escape from it. The ne day that their departure was put off the Widow became more impatient; she

groes were singing it over and over was like a child clamoring for some

again: thing.

Comin' for to carry me home. “When will you be starting, Hector?" she would say each morning; and Charlie came as far as Memphis with always there would be

them, and there bade them good-bye. thought-of preparation to be made. ... He tried hard not to let it be a sad

Charlie, of course, proposed to write farewell, because, said he, perhaps he to the mythical Mrs. MacDonald who might be coming across the water had so unaccountably failed to meet himself next year.

What would his them on their arrival in New York; but mother say to that? Hector, with a bright blush that was They kept holding on to this hope all inexplicable to his relation, said they the way to Memphis, speaking of it as would prefer to be met there this time almost a settled thing, even planning by Mrs. Koster: he would write himself how the Widow was to drive down to about it, he added.

Balneish in the Mathesons' cart to meet This caused a week's delay; then a him on that blessed day when he note, written on pink paper, arrived to should return to the Island. But when Hector one morning. It seemed to the moment for parting came, Hope please him mightily, though he only dwindled down into a mere phantom; said in an off-hand manner that Mrs. and Separation and Distance, Age and Koster would be kind enough to put Death, took on shapes of horrible actuthem up for a few nights before they ality. Would they ever really meet sailed.

again face to face? It seemed unThis matter being arranged, there likely; she so old, he so bound to his remained no other pretext for delay, so new home by a hundred ties. the 17th October was settled for the When the bitter moment had come homeward start On the last evening and gone-when she had looked her Hector left the Widow sitting with last at Charlie and given him her Charlie, and went out alone into the blessing—the Widow, to Hector's sur

some

un

« PreviousContinue »