The Chess players: Shakespeare and Ben Johnson playing chess-
The Chess Players attributed to Karel van Mander. This was identified in 1916 as an image of Ben Jonson and Shakespeare playing chess. Most scholars consider this to be pure speculation, but the claim was revived in 2004 by Jeffrey Netto, who argued that the chess game symbolises “the well known professional rivalry between these figures in terms of a battle of wits”.
Read more HERE about Shakespeare and chess.
Even Shakespeare (1564-1616) incorporated a well known, though minor, chess scene in The Tempest.
The Tempest: Act Five, Scene One (Ferdinand and Miranda)
The entrance of the Cell opens, and discovers Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess.
Miranda: Sweet lord, you play me false.
Ferdinand: No, my dearest love, I would not for the world.
Miranda: Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle, And I would call it fair play
Miranda and Ferdinand are lovers whose fathers are sworn enemies. Their love, represented in a devious game of chess in the final scene, restores harmony between the two families.[Source:sbchess.sinfree.net]
Sports and pastimes of the English:[see the next paragraph and the source link] – I think it is even today the case… – due to the weather…chess is a favourite indoor game, that’s why so many people in the UK play chess online. Comparing to our counterparts in the Southern hemisphere, you would get the opposite.
DANCING AND CHESS PLAY.–Dancing was certainly an ancient and favourite pastime with the women of this country: the maidens even in a state of servitude claimed, as it were by established privilege, the license to indulge themselves in this exercise on holidays and public festivals; when it was usually performed in the presence of their masters and mistresses.
In the middle ages, dice, chess, and afterwards tables, and cards, with other sedentary games of chance and skill, were reckoned among the female amusements; and the ladies also frequently joined with the men in such pastimes, as we find it expressly declared in the metrical romance of Ipomydom. The passage alluded to runs thus:
“When they had dyned, as I you saye,
Lordes and ladyes yede to to playe;
Some to tables, and some to chesse,
With other gamys more or lesse.”
In another poem, by Gower, a lover asks his mistress, when she is tired of “dancing and caroling,” if she was willing to “play at chesse, or on the dyes to cast a chaunce.” Forrest, speaking in praise of Catharine of Arragon, first wife of Henry VIII., says, that when she was young,
“With stoole and with needyl she was not to seeke,
And other practiseings for ladyes meete;
To pastyme at tables, tick tack or gleeke,
Cardis and dyce”–etc.