Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Spanish Queen of Chess

Watching the "Secret Files of the Inquisition" on SBS tonight I learn that the queen in chess is actually Queen Isabella of Spain. Scroll to about 3.30 of this video.

A quick google after the episode reveals this:

"In its original form, the equivalent of the queen was male, a piece known in Spanish as alferza, from the Persian, meaning something like vizier or adjutant," said Govert Westerveld, a Dutch chess historian and former youth champion who lives in Spain.

"The figure was weak, and its movements limited. Later, around 1475, when Isabella was crowned queen of Castile, the figure became female but able to move only one square at a time, like the king. Not until 1495, when Isabella was the most powerful woman in Europe, were the present rules of chess established, in which the queen roams freely in all directions on the board," Dr Westerveld said yesterday.

More in "Check: powerful queen who changed the world also transformed chess".

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