Human chess
April 15, 2012 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Every other year since 1923, the town of Marostica in Italy has staged a recreation of a human chess game played in 1454 between two noblemen for the hand of the castle lord's daughter.

The Italian tradition receives a modern twist in this Mario/Luigi vs Wario/Waluigi confrontation from Metrocon 2008's Anime-themed match. Fan conventions devoted to The Prisoner have featured renactments from the game in the "Checkmate" episode.

Human chess is also a regular feature of Vietnamese temple festivals.
posted by Trurl (13 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
"Come back, fools! Protect me!"
posted by Trurl at 7:27 PM on April 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

BRB, forwarding this to my father so he knows to demand this of my future suitors.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:42 PM on April 15, 2012 [19 favorites]

One of the programs I did for my museum last year was to work with a producer friend and a bunch of volunteer actors to stage a live chess game. Two chess masters from our area played a real game in real time, and the pieces moved accordingly. It was amazing - one of the most visually striking things I've ever seen. The crowd watched in a total hush. Some pictures are on our Facebook.
posted by Miko at 7:45 PM on April 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

ganng baang!
posted by wilful at 8:22 PM on April 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

the hand of a castle lord's daughter

Most people don't realize that the rules of chess are based on fairly perverse sexual fetishes. There are bishops and horses involved. The queen is more powerful than the king.

But that's the game. Most people just want to mate.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:58 PM on April 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

the queen is more powerful that the king

According to Marilyn Yalom's book Birth of the Chess Queen, the original piece next to the king was a male counsel called the "vizier."

The earliest manuscripts replace the vizier with the queen in the 10th century. She played a much weaker role and was only allowed to move one square at a time and only on the diagonal. Apparently the "strong" queen arose about the time of Isabella of Spain.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:07 PM on April 15, 2012 [9 favorites]

Hm, 'Hypnerotomachia Poliphili' (1467?) includes a chess ballet. Coincidence?

Rabelais did one too, of course.
posted by Segundus at 2:37 AM on April 16, 2012

They should do this in Prague ... so it would be ... Czech Mate

I'm here all week, tell your friends
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:52 AM on April 16, 2012

I think it's Richard Lester's Three Musketeers that has the indolent French king playing chess with pieces that are various breeds of dog... it does'nt end well.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:08 AM on April 16, 2012

I was hoping this was like Battle Chess and the pieces actually kill each other in amusing ways.
posted by The otter lady at 8:16 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wonder if this inspired the bit from History of the World, Part I?
posted by Renoroc at 9:15 AM on April 16, 2012

I'm homesick: my family house is less than 10 miles from Marostica. Here more beautiful pictures of the city and surrounding areas. If you are ever there take the passeggiata dei Carmini, a nice short hike from the lower castle to the castle on top of the hill.
posted by francesca too at 9:23 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not sure if the mention of fool-soldiers in the second link is a typo or spot-on.
posted by ckape at 1:37 PM on April 16, 2012

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