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Excavations at a burial site in south-east Turkey have revealed a set of 49 sculpted pieces that may once have been used in board games. They are among the oldest evidence of such games ever found.

Sağlamtimur, from Ege university in Izmir, Turkey discussed the finds at the annual International Symposium of Excavations, Surveys and Archaeometry in the Turkish city of Muğla. He thinks the pieces belong to some complicated chess-like game. His team now hopes to work out the strategies that the game must have involved.

Not so fast, says Ulrich Schädler, director of the Swiss Museum of Games in La Tour-de-Peilz. “Do the objects really all belong to one game? I would answer no,” he told New Scientist. “We don’t have the slightest trace of a board game using more than two different kinds of pieces before chess.” Early forms of chess were not played until about 1500 years ago. Read the entire article here.

Chess is believed to have first originated in Eastern India known as Chaturanga. The game spread from India to Persia and after the Islamic conquering of the Persian empire it was adopted by them and spread even further afield with it’s name changed to shatranj. The Islamic world then spread chess throughout Europe and then to Russia. On this link you can read more about the history of ancient games relating to chess.

Chess_Shatranj-12th-Century
Image: Wikipedia – Shatranj

Senet was played between 1550-1069 BC in Egypt. In the next image you can see a painting on the wall of Queen Nefertari’s tomb depicting her playing the game in the afterlife. 

You can download this file for  the rules of Senet

Chess_Senet-Queen-Nefertari

Egyptian Chess

Image source here.

This game in the above image has been found painted on the funeral tombs of the rich and which shows a lion and an antelope playing the game of Senet.

According to the British Museum, it’s a scene from a satirical papyrus, possibly from Thebes, the Late New Kingdom, around 1100 BC.

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Photographer: Mario Testino

Blogging about the Royals as a rule is not my piece of cake, but thought to do it today as the sun is out, it’s a wonderful day – a-picnic-in-the-park-day-  after the horrible weather the past two weeks [and at least there’s some chess involved too]. Official photos of William and Kate have been released.[only two – very stingy of them, I think] Comparing the couple to Charles and Diana [when they got engaged], I would say they look more mature and confident. Diana looked more like the submissive-type of person than Kate – or is it my imagination? I’m not a huge fan of the Royals. When I was a child – about age 9-11, I was a fan of the Dutch Royal House. My mum used to have a book about the Dutch Royal family and I loved paging and reading through the book every now and then.

Charles and Diana – with the announcement of their engagement.

Chess and the British Royals

By reading an article on the site of Chess History – I might take a guess and say that  William might enjoy a game of chess too  – and hopefully, Kate as well – to support the future king-to-be. [hehe] He hasn’t got a choice actually, he needs to follow in the footsteps of his forefathers [lol]  to show l[r]oyalty to the game [hehe].Following quotes from Edward Winter’s site: chesshistory.

Victoria (1819-1901):

On page 74 of the Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1842 a correspondent, ‘H.N., Charter House’, asked: ‘Is not chess an amusement much in vogue with the courtly throng of Buckingham House? and may not her Majesty be numbered among the votaries of Caissa?’ The published reply was: ‘Chess is frequently played at the palace, and not uncommonly by the Queen herself.’

Edward VII (1841-1910):

From page 131 of Lasker’s Chess Magazine, January 1906, page 131:

‘King Edward, we are told, is developing an enthusiasm for chess. In that case, says a writer in Tid-Bits, he is only following in the steps of many of his predecessors on the throne …
Read more on THIS LINK on the site of Chess-History by Edward Winter.

Page 158 of CHESS, 24 December 1954 published a photograph of a game of chess being played by ‘the young sons of the Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s uncle’, i.e. Prince Richard (born 1944) and Prince William (1941-1972).

Image: chesshistory.com – The young sons of the Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s uncle, play chess. Prince Richard [left] and the 12 year old Prince William…

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Image: Wikimedia – Philidor

I’ve read a lot about Philidor the last couple of days as he was – as  a chess player – also a great composer of his time. [Of course, if you don’t know it, it was Philidor who said…‘The pawns are the soul of chess.’] I’ve thought to create an entry about research that was carried out about chess and music – and have found some useful information, but very basic and I think we all know that already, but also came across an interesting article…and  you can read an extract of it and the complete article on the given link – which is more about Steinitz. So many beginners think about the Pawn as just a piece to move if they don’t know what to move and I sometimes struggle with students not to move their Pawns unless they have to. I think Philidor was a bright spark! He composed beautiful music and played some brilliant chess. The info from Wikipedia is quite interesting. Read why he died in London. Chess is also a game full of strategies which you can apply to your everyday life – as we all know, but there are now companies making use of Chess players to support them in their business and training their staff in Chess strategies in order to excel in the company. The following quotes about Chess were found on one such Chess Consultant’s site. If you have a Twitter account, you can follow jacobm – as he is such a consultant and these quotes are from his site.

“Knights are the curvy pieces that bring a circular aspect to an essential linear game.”
– J. Rowson, Scottish Grandmaster

“The handling of the Rooks demands a great understanding of the strategy suited to a particular position.”
– L. Pachman, Czech Grandmaster

“Whenever you have a Bishop, keep your pawns on opposite color squares.”
– J.R. Capablanca, Cuban World Champion 1921-1927

“The game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess.”
– Benjamin Franklin

“When the chess game is over, the Pawn and the King go back into the same box.”
– Italian proverb

“Every Pawn is a potential Queen.”
– J. Mason, 19th Century Irish chess master

“The handling of the Rooks demands a great understanding of the strategy suited to a particular position.”
– L. Pachman, Czech Grandmaster

“What do you want to achieve or avoid? The answers to this question are objectives. How will you go about achieving your desired results? The answer to this you can call strategy”
– William E Rothschild

THE HISTORY OF CHESS AS WE conceive of it today  can be safely assumed to start with the composer (of music) François-André Danican Philidor (1726–1795). His undoubted status as a ‘founding father’ stems mainly from the famous sentence that everyone associates with his name, ‘the pawns are the soul of chess.’ That ‘pawns are the soul of chess’ is the fundamental law of chess theory. It is the identification and elaboration of the fact that pawns are heavily limited in their movement, so that the structure of pawns is much more static and rigid than that of pieces; this, coupled to the fact that an advantage of a pawn is usually enough to win the game (if the endgame, where pawns are potential queens, is reached), gives the handling of pawns an importance and a difficulty that goes beyond that of pieces. The consequences of a pawn move are lasting, and cannot generally be pondered by ‘concrete analysis,’ the sheer calculation of variations. Moving pieces always involves of course the risk of mistakes and blunders that immediately ruin a game—but these can be calculated and avoided. Moving pawns means a much more subtle risk, for relevant negative consequences might appear a long time afterwards; there is no need for blunder to lose a game because of a pawn move. This distinction between pawns and pieces is at the core of the distinction between ‘strategy’ and ‘tactics,’ the two branches of chess theory, training, education, etc. (Strategy is the identification of the general long-term ideas and plans of the game, usually based on the configuration of pawns reached after the opening; tactics refers to the actual moves and short-term variations that execute the plans, and it usually focuses on the action of pieces. ‘Tactics consists in knowing what to do when there is something to do; strategy is about knowing what to do when there is nothing to do,’ Tartakower is reported to have said.) In this sense, the discovery of strategy, and with it the birth of chess theory as such, is essentially linked to the name of Philidor. Thus (and I choose the following source for no other reason than having it at hand—assertions to the same effect are easily found in any book on chess strategy), It was master Filidor, the luminous French musician and chess player, the first to understand, already at the end of the eighteenth century, the importance of pawns in chess; it is actually with him that the game’s positional strategy is born. This is what the name Philidor means for chess today. He plays the role of the symbolic point of reference, the recipient that contains the essence and the primary source of chess theory. But, as usually happens with such figures—think of Thales as the father of philosophy, Pithagoras as the father of mathematics, and even of Aristotle as the father of empirical science—, he himself is exiled from his name, and what he actually thought or understood is ignored in favor of what we think and understand. Historical fact is of little importance for the role of the figure—just as Homer, and more recently as Saussure, he is defined by us as the author of his works, rather than his works being defined for us as the product of his efforts. In fact, ‘the pawns are the soul of chess’ is a corruption of what Philidor really said. (The fate of this sentence is similar to that of other myths like Newton’s apple or Galileo at the Tower of Pisa: dubious recollection of facts modified by tradition to suit its fancy.) The actual quotation from Philidor’s foreword to his 1749 Chess Analysed or Instructions by Which a Perfect Knowledge of This Noble Game May in a short Time be Acquir’d (his own translation of the Analise des E´checs) reads. My chief intention is to recommend myself to the public, by a novelty no one had thought of, or perhaps ever understood well. I mean how to play the Pawns. They are the very life [not ‘soul’] of this game. They alone form the Attack and the Defence; on their good or bad situation depends the Gain or Loss of each Party. And then, immediately: A player, who, when he had played a pawn well, can give no Reason for his moving it to such a square, may be compared to a General, who with much practice has little or no Theory. Philidor’s wording (Attack, Defence, Reason, Theory) reveals that ‘strategy’ and ‘tactics’ are not part of his conceptual net. When ‘the pawns are the soul of chess’ is interpreted today, what it brings to mind is the classification of pawns into weak pawns (isolated, doubled, hind pawn) or strong pawns (passed pawns), some especial configurations (chain of pawns, hanging pawns), and the concept of weak and strong squares. All this obviously remains at best inarticulate in Philidor’s book. As Cecil Purdy says, “in Philidor’s system of play, it is not at all evident to a mediocre player even if experienced why ‘on the good or bad situation (of the pawns) depends the gain and loss to each Party.’ ” Follow this link to read the complete article, the link will open in a new window. -[ it is a PDF-document]

http://www.fedegarcia.net/writings/steinitz.pdf
François-André Danican Philidor (September 7, 1726 – August 31, 1795) was a French chess player and composer. He was regarded as the best chess player of his age, although the title of World Chess Champion was not yet in existence. Philidor’s book Analyse du jeu des Échecs was considered a standard chess manual for at least a century. He was commonly referred to as André Danican Philidor during his lifetime.

Chess career
Philidor started playing regularly around 1740 at the chess Mecca of France, the Café de la Régence. It was also there that he famously played with a friend from ‘New England’, Mr. Benjamin Franklin. The best player in France at the time, Legall de Kermeur, taught him. At first, Legall could give Philidor rook odds, a handicap in which the stronger player starts without one of his rooks, but in only three years, Philidor was his equal, and then surpassed him. Philidor visited England in 1747 and decisively beat the Syrian Phillip Stamma in a match +8 =1 -1, despite the fact Philidor let Stamma have White in every game, and scored all draws as wins for Stamma. The same year, Philidor played many games with another strong player, Sir Abraham Janssen, who was then the best player in England, and with the exception of M. de Legalle, probably the best player Philidor ever encountered. He could win on an average one game in four of Philidor, at even terms; and Philidor himself declared that he could only give to Janssen the pawn for the move.

In 1754, Philidor returned to France, after nine years of absence spent mostly in Holland and England. He was now a much stronger player, having successfully played with opponent of the calibre of Philip Stamma and Abraham Janssen, but, as G. Allen reports in The life of Philidor, it was not until his match with de Legal in 1755 that he can be considered the strongest player in the world.

“When Philidor left Paris, in 1745, although he had for some time been playing even games with M. de Legal… he had not ceased to recognize his old master as still his master and superior. But nine years of practice, with a great variety of players, had authorized him to look for neither superior nor equal; and when, in 1755, a match was arranged between the pupil and his master, who was still at the height of his strength, the result placed the crown firmly and indisputably upon the head of Philidor.”

In 1771 and 1773 Philidor made brief stays in London to play at the Salopian coffee-house, Charing Cross and at the St James Chess Club. In 1774 the Parloe’s chess club, on St James street, in London, was created and Philidor obtained a remuneration as a Chess Master every year, for a regular season from February to June. Philidor stayed faithful to this agreement until the end of his life and he was replaced by Verdoni only after his death. It is rightly in this place Philidor encountered Mr. George Atwood, famous mathematician and physician, lecturer at Cambridge University. In an article of J. J. O’Connor and E. F. Robertson [1], devoted to George Atwood, there is the following passage:

” Atwood was a renowned amateur chess-player and among other opponents played games against the famous French player Philidor, who was regarded as the unofficial world champion.”

H E Bird records :

“Of the players who encountered Philidor, Sir Abraham Janssens, who died in 1775, seems to have been the best, Mr. George Atwood, a mathematician, one of Pitt’s secretaries came next, he was of a class which we should call third or two grades of odds below Philidor, a high standard of excellence to which but few amateurs attain. One of most interesting features of Atwood as a chess player is that he recorded and preserved some of his games, an unusual practice at that time. These records have survived, among them the last games that Philidor played which were against Atwood at Parsloe’s Club in London on 20 June 1795.”

In England, Philidor astounded his peers by playing three blindfold chess games simultaneously in the chess club of St. James Street in London on 9 May 1783. Philidor let all three opponents play white, and gave up a pawn for the third player. Some affidavits were signed, because those persons who were involved doubted that future generations would believe that such a feat was possible. Today, three simultaneous blindfold games would be fairly unremarkable among many chess masters. Even when he was in his late years, when he was 67 years old (1793), he played and won two blindfold games simultaneously in London.

Philidor, both in England and France, was largely recognized in each of this fields and got a lot of admirers, protectors and also friends, like were the French philosophers Voltaire, Rousseau and the famous English actor David Garrick (1717–1779).

In December 1792, however, when he was then age 65, Philidor had to leave definitively France for England. He was fleeing the French Revolution (1789–1799), because his name figured on the Revolutionary banishment list, established by the Convention nationale. This was not probably due to his ideas (indeed it seems Philidor was rather reserved about his opinions apart from music and chess), but very likely in view of the traditional attachment of his family to the King’s family service [2].

Andrew Soltis writes that Philidor “was the best player in the world for 50 years. In fact, he was probably about 200 rating points better than anyone else yet alive—set apart by the mysteries of the game he had solved.”

It was said that the reason why Philidor emphasized the pawns in the chess game was related to the political background during the eighteenth century of France, and that he regarded pawns as the “Third rank” on the chess board (citizens were regarded as the third rank of the society before the French Revolution started in 1789). He also included analysis of certain positions of rook and bishop versus rook, such analysis being still current theory even today. He is most famous for showing an important drawing technique with a rook and pawn versus rook endgame, in a position known as the Philidor position. The Philidor Defense(1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6) is named for him. Philidor’s book was the very first (1) that gave detailed annotations on how to play the middle-game, (2) that presented chess strategy as a whole, and (3) that presented the concepts of the blockade, prophylaxis, positional sacrifice, and mobility of the pawn formation.

Philidor joined the Royal choir of Louis XV in 1732 at the age of six, and made his first attempt at the composition of a song at the age of 11. It was said that Louis XV wanted to listen to the choir almost every day, and the singers, while waiting for the king to arrive, played chess to relieve their boredom; this may have sparked Philidor’s interest in chess.

Listen to the music of Philidor.

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It is time to enter for the South African Open 2010. Click the image for the Official website of the organisers: Ramlodi. The link is also on my blog’s side bar. Last year we had 3 GM’s to play in this tournament online from different continents and it was the first Fide tournament to be played online. You can visit the official website or follow some of the links here. Games/photos will be followed and blogged here as results will become available during the tournament.
Please click
here for the ONLINE entry form. [Links will open in a new window] NON-Citizens of South Africa: Click click here to pay via PayPal or visit the Official site for the same link.
 


The Venue: Tswane University of Technology [Pretoria]

Venue: Inside [Theunis Bester Hall] – see more pics on the Official site.


Schedule SA Open 2010 or click on this PDF-link to download the schedule.
SA Open 2010 Schedule in PDF

History of the South Africa Chess Open Championships
The Cape Town Chess Club is the oldest chess club in the country, boasting an un-interruped existence since its foundation in 1885! However, it is almost certainly not the first club that was formed. Besides the reference above to a club which met in Cape Town in 1847, the Grahamstown Journal of 29 December 1969 reports the result of a match of three games played by correspondence that year between Amateur Chess Club of Port Elizabeth and the Grahamstown Chess Club. Grahamstown won all three games.
The 1st SA Championship, Cape Town 1892
At the Cape Town Chess Club’s 7th Annual General Meeting in March 1892, J.H. Clark, one of the club’s most prominent member introduced a proposal that a general chess tournament, open to all chess players in South Africa, be held in Cape Town under the auspices of the Cape Town Chess
Club. This proposal was received with enthusiasm and the club set about organising the tournament. The Metropolitan Hall in Burg Street was the venue. The tournament was opened by the club’s President, the Bishop of Cape Town, and others on the platform were General Cameron, officer commanding the local British forces. Prize money offered amounted to £25. The rate of play was 25 moves per hour, with sessions of four hours duration, but few games lasted that long. Eleven players were accepted for the Championship proper and ten played in the Minor tournament, both being round-robins. The tournament was to last six days, during which the contestants had to play 10 games. This heavy schedule was quite acceptable to all, it seems. Rivett and Roberts each scored 9½ out of 10. They then contested two games to break the tie, the first beginning at 4pm on the sixth day of the tournament. Roberts won this and at 7:30pm that same day the second game commenced. Rivett was successful so the title was shared.

The 2nd SA Championship, Cape Town 1897
After a lapse of five years the Cape Town Chess Club again took the initiative and staged the second SA Championship in 1897. The committee has budgeted for a total expenditure of £200 and it is noteworthy that the full amount was subscribed by donors, among whom was President Steyn of Orange Free State, who gave £5. The Prizes in the Championship were £30, £20, £10 and £5, with a further £10 for consolation prizes. For the Minor tournament, which attracted a field of 11, £25 was
allocated for prizes. The tournament was in fact a triumph for the Cape Town players, for after Roberts came Cameron
with 9 points and then another club representative Friedman was tied with Kummel for third and fourth placings, each scoring 8½.
The 3rd SA Championship, Durban 1899
The 4th SA Championship, Johannesburg 1903
The 5th SA Championship, Cape Town 1906

Source: Ramlodi.co.za

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I think for anyone not knowing Algebraic Chess, the following will be Greek to them… Morphy Defence, C78 Ruy Lopez,  1. e4    e5, 2. Nf3   Nf6, 3. Bb5   a6,   4. Ba4  Nf6,  5. O-O   b5,   ……29. Qxc2   dxe5…etc.  That was the opening moves of a chess game of Fischer vs Di Camillo played 1956 in Washington D.C. Fischer won. During the WW’s/Cold War, codes were used to send messages and some of the messages were disguised as chess moves! There were also the Code Breakers and many of them were chess champions (employed to break the codes) and some of them just very good chess players. So, if you want to send messages disguised as chess moves, it’s time for you to start knowing about algebraic chess! [haha] I’ve come across this interesting article and want to share it with you. Near to the bottom of the post you can read about Britain’s Code Breakers and how they operated. Last year Bletchley Park was in the news again as the building needed restoration. Bletchley Park is now a museum. Bletchley Park also helped to win WW2 and the launch of the modern computer. Read the Timesonline-link at the bottom of this post.

Intriguing spy postcards with cryptic messages to MI5 chief during Cold War found
23rd July 2009

Top secret postcards containing coded messages sent from a Cold War spy in Germany to an MI5 boss have come to light.

Written in cryptic text based around a series of chess games, they were posted in 1950 to Graham Mitchell, the then deputy director general of MI5.

Found by a member of Mitchell’s household staff – who kept them for more than 50 years – they are expected to fetch £1,000 when sold at auction on Monday.

 Intriguing: Chess was a favourite Russian national pastime and information would often be disguised as chess moves [click on images for a larger view]

Sent from what is thought to be an undercover agent in Frankfurt – a hub of espionage activity at the time as it was well positioned for spying on both the East and West – experts are not sure what side the men were spying for, as Mitchell was suspected of being a secret Soviet agent at the time.

Written on typewriters and dated throughout 1950, each of the messages revolves around chess, with a discussion of various moves and games written out in the text.
Some are addressed to ‘Dear chessfriend Mitchell’, and each contains a series of numbers recognisable as chess moves, used by correspondents to play games at a distance.

One postcard, dated June 16, 1950 said: ‘Without against Dr. Balogh I always have now hard fights in my games.

‘Against Collins I have been fallen into a variation of the Nimzowich-defence who surely should be lost!

‘I shall try to find a new idea for defending. But only a little hope. But all my games go forward in a quick way.

Gordon Thomas, author and expert on the history of MI5 and MI6, said chess moves were a common way of communicating during the Cold War.

He said: ‘Mitchell was head of counter-espionage at MI5 and would have been responsible for recruiting double agents with the aim of getting them into the KGB networks.
‘The Russians in particular favoured using chess as a method of communicating. It was a great national pastime and information would often be disguised as chess moves.

Code: Experts have not worked out the true meaning of the cryptic text

‘There’s even a section about it in the KGB handbook. For example, one move could ascertain what was happening and another could give instructions.
‘Agents would be trained to understand chess moves and Mitchell was quite a good chess player.The chances are that these were instructions or intelligence to a Soviet agent or an informer.
‘Of course they could just be innocent correspondence, but at the height of the Cold War it seems logical Mitchell would have more important things on his mind. We will never really know, but nevertheless it really is an astonishing find.’

Following a series of operation failures Mitchell was put under investigation along with the director general Roger Hollis.

He was even suspected as being in cahoots with the notorious Cambridge Five spies and was named by the now-famous Spycatcher author Peter White as a spy.

No evidence was found against them but Mitchell took early retirement in 1963 as a result of the investigation.

The postcards were delivered to Mitchell’s address in Chobham, Surrey, and were all sent from a Dr. Edmund Adam in Frankfurt.
Heather Cannon, of Barbers Fine Art Auctioneers of Woking, Surrey, said: ‘It was commonly known that Mitchell was investigated on suspicion of being a spy. He was also known to play chess and it seems he had a regular correspondence with Dr Adams.
‘The messages could very well be codes that conveyed secret information between the two. But until they are broken we can never know for sure.
‘They’re certainly a very interesting find and we’re expecting a lot of interest from people who are fascinated by MI5.
‘Anyone interested in spies and codes would be intrigued by them, and perhaps the buyer would be able to spend time trying to crack the mystery.’
Born in 1905, Graham Mitchell was educated at Winchester School and Oxford University before joining MI5 as an expert on fascist organisations.

Source HERE

Bletchley Park – image: Wikipedia

Sir (Philip) Stuart Milner-Barry OBE CB KCVO (20 September 1906 – 25 March 1995) was a British chess player, chess writer, World War II codebreaker and civil servant. He worked at Bletchley Park during World War II, and was head of “Hut 6”, a section responsible for deciphering messages which had been encrypted using the German Enigma machine. He was one of four leading codebreakers at Bletchley to petition the then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill directly for more resources for their work. After the war he worked in the Treasury and later administered the British honours system. In chess, he represented England in international tournaments and lent his name to three opening variations.

He represented England in chess, and played in the international Chess Olympiads of 1937 and 1939. The latter tournament, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, coincided with Britain’s declaration of war on Germany in September 1939. Milner-Barry, with teammates Hugh Alexander (at that time the British chess champion) and Harry Golombek, abandoned the tournament and returned to Britain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Milner-Barry

Image: chesshistory.com

The Codebreakers: Names underlined in red were British Chess Champions or Scottish chess champions and others only very strong chess players.

Bletchley Park, also known as Station X, is an estate located in the town of Bletchley, in Buckinghamshire. Since 1967, Bletchley has been part of Milton Keynes, England.

Although its function was a secret at the time, Bletchley Park was officially known as the ‘GCCS’ (Government Code and Cypher School, which some irreverent people re-interpreted as the ‘Golf Club and Chess Society’). Up to 7000 people worked there at any one time.
Towards the end of the war, when they could be a bit more relaxed about security. Here is a detail from a photograph which appeared in the magazine ‘Chess’ showing participants in a 1944 match between what was called ‘Bletchley Chess Club’ and Oxford University. ‘Bletchley’ won the match 8-4.
During World War II, Bletchley Park was the site of the United Kingdom’s main decryption establishment. Ciphers and codes of several Axis countries were decrypted there, most importantly ciphers generated by the German Enigma and Lorenz machines.

The high-level intelligence produced at Bletchley Park, codenamed Ultra, is credited with having provided crucial assistance to the Allied war effort and with having shortened the war, though Ultra’s precise influence is still studied and debated.

Bletchley Park is now a museum run by the Bletchley Park Trust and is open to the public. The main manor house is also available for functions and is licensed for ceremonies. Part of the fees for hiring the facilities go to the Trust for use in maintaining the museum.

Five weeks before the outbreak of World War II, in Warsaw, Poland’s Biuro Szyfrów (Cipher Bureau) revealed its achievements in decrypting German Enigma ciphers to French and British intelligence. The British used this information as the foundation for their own early efforts to decrypt Enigma.

The “first wave” of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) moved to Bletchley Park on 15 August 1939. The main body of GC&CS, including its Naval, Military and Air Sections, was on the house’s ground floor, together with a telephone exchange, a teleprinter room, a kitchen and a dining room. The top floor was allocated to MI6. The prefabricated wooden huts were still being erected, and initially the entire “shooting party” was crowded into the existing house, its stables and cottages. These were too small, so Elmers School, a neighbouring boys’ boarding school, was acquired for the Commercial and Diplomatic Sections.

A wireless room was set up in the mansion’s water tower and given the code name “Station X”, a term now sometimes applied to the codebreaking efforts at Bletchley as a whole. The “X” simply denotes the number “10” in Roman numerals, as this was the tenth such station to be opened. Due to the long radio aerials stretching from the wireless room, the radio station was moved from Bletchley Park to nearby Whaddon to avoid drawing attention to the site.

Listening stations – the Y-stations (such as the ones at Chicksands in Bedfordshire and Beaumanor Hall in Leicestershire, the War Office “Y” Group HQ) – gathered raw signals for processing at Bletchley. Coded messages were taken down by hand and sent to Bletchley on paper by motorcycle couriers or, later, by teleprinter. Bletchley Park is mainly remembered for breaking messages enciphered on the German Enigma cypher machine, but its greatest cryptographic achievement may have been the breaking of the German “Fish” High Command teleprinter cyphers.

The intelligence produced from decrypts at Bletchley was code-named “Ultra”. It contributed greatly to the Allied success in defeating the U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic, and to the British naval victories of Battle of Cape Matapan and the Battle of North Cape.

When the United States joined the war Churchill agreed with Roosevelt to pool resources and a number of American cryptographers were posted to Bletchley Park. Whilst the British continued to work on German cyphers, the Americans concentrated on the Japanese ones.

The only direct action that the site experienced was when three bombs, thought to have been intended for Bletchley railway station, were dropped on 20 November 1940 – 21 November 1940. One bomb exploded next to the dispatch riders’ entrance, shifting the whole of Hut 4 (the Naval Intelligence hut) two feet on its base. As the huts stood on brick pillars, workmen just winched it back into position whilst work continued inside.

An outpost of Bletchley Park was set up at Kilindini, Kenya, to break and decipher Japanese codes.[8] With a mixture of skill and good fortune, this was successfully done: the Japanese merchant marine suffered 90 per cent losses by August 1945, a result of decrypts.

After the war, Churchill referred to the Bletchley staff as “My geese that laid the golden eggs and never cackled.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bletchley_Park

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_associated_with_Bletchley_Park
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hut_6

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Milner-Barry

During WW2 the British set up at Bletchley Park a major organisation whose purpose was to try to crack the sophisticated German codes (i.e. those using the ‘Enigma’ machine). A number of notable academics and mind-gamers were employed, including chess players, mathematicians and crossword-puzzle solvers. They succeeded in their task, and it has been seriously suggested that this single breakthrough shortened the war in Europe by 2 years. The Germans never believed that such a thing was possible. Among the chess-players based at Bletchley park were C.H.O’D (Hugh) Alexander (a British Champion) Stuart Milner-Barry (who gave his name to more than one ‘gambit’ variation) Harry Golombek (distinguished chess-player and author), N A Perkins, and James McRae Aitken (10 times Scottish Champion).

Other people at Bletchley Park included the mathematician Alan Turing (whose theories led to the development of artificial intelligence and computers), politician Roy Jenkins (subsequently a leader of the Labour and Social Democratic parties) and Professor Donald Michie (who later brought chessplayers Danny Kopec and Ivan Bratko to Edinburgh University to research AI techniques using chess).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hut_6

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7524421.stm

Bletchley Park, the codebreaking centre that helped to win the Second World War and launch the modern computer, is in danger of irreparable decay unless the Government steps in to save it, some of the country’s leading computer scientists caution today.

In a letter to The Times, 97 senior experts, mostly professors and heads of department, say that “the ravages of age and a lack of investment” have left the historic site under threat.

One of the unheated wooden huts where the codebreakers worked day and night to turn the tide of the war now looks “like a garden shed that’s been left for 60 years”, according to Sue Black, head of the Department of Information and Software Systems at the University of Westminster and one of the organisers of the letter.

A dirty tarpaulin keeps out the rain, and several of the eight surviving huts have peeling paint and boarded-up windows. [Read on the next link more – the link will open in a new window.]

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article4387286.ece
The leading British chess masters of World War II all became leading codebreakers for British intelligence.

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I’ve come across this interesting information. I hope you will also enjoy the first Chess book that was published in English. I’ve found a couple of interesting links for you too, hoover over the links with your mouse  and you will see what you’ll get to look at. The links will all open in new windows. What I also found interesting about the book is that Caxton explained every single pawn separately and not pawns in general. You will see on the different pages where he wrote about the pawn, he mentioned e.g. “the fourth pawn before the King”…etc. This is “olde” English…so I guess a bit “different” to read. I’ve only uploaded a few pages for you, on the link you will find all the others. It’s worth to follow all the links if you’re really interested in this book.

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lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=rbc3&fileName=rbc0001_2005rosen0558page.db&recNum=108

The first book printed in English
The first book which Caxton produced in the Low Countries was The Recuyell of the Histories of Troy, translated by himself from the French original of Raoul Lefèvre. He had begun the translation in 1469, taken it further at the behest of Margaret of York, the Duchess of Burgundy, continued the work in Ghent, and completed it in Cologne on 9 September 1471. This was the first book ever to be printed in English.

The book is a collection of stories very loosely based on the tales of the Trojan Wars. Caxton aimed for a court readership. Stories of war, knightly exploits and love were popular courtly reading. To ensure that his book also looked appealing to his readers, he had a new typeface created, closely based on the handwriting used in manuscripts made for the Burgundian court. In all probability the type was created by Johann Veldener, who had also made Caxton’s Cologne type. While in the Low Countries he printed another book in English, The Play of Chess. It was also translated by Caxton himself, from Jean de Vignay’s French translation of Jacobus de Cessolis’s Latin original. This is Caxton’s first dated work, finished 31 March 1474. The Play of Chess was another text popular at the Burgundian court, an allegory of fixed social structures where each rank has its allotted role. This book was dedicated to George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Edward IV and, perhaps more importantly, of Margaret of York, who promoted the cause of her favourite brother, the ‘false, fleeting, perjured Clarence’, as he is described in Shakespeare’s Richard III. Not surprisingly, given Clarence’s fall from grace, the dedication does not appear in the second edition of the book dated c.1483.

portico.bl.uk/treasures/caxton/firstbook.html

www.worldchesslinks.net/ezi02.html

De Ludo Scachorum was first translated into French in 1347. In 1474, 2 years before it was printed in French, William Caxton translated the text from the French (of Jean de Vignay) into English and printed it under the title, The Game of Chess.
The Game of Chess was the second book printed in the English language. The first book, also printed by Claxton was The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, also translated from French (of Raoul le Fèvre) and also in 1474. Caxton printed almost 100 books, and of these 20 were translations from French or Dutch into English.
The Game of Chess has the second distinction of being the first book to be reprinted! The second printing of the book in 1483 had an interesting sidebar. It was printed in Westminster. The first edition was printed in Bruges where Caxton had been politically involved in the local merchant’s association. He had ingratiated himself with Margaret, the Duchess of York, the sister of King Edward IV – in fact it was under her urging that he translated The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye to begin with. The book was dedicated to Edward’s son and Margaret’s brother – George, Duke of Clarence by his humble and unknown servant, William Caxton. Claxton set up a press in Westminster in 1476 and, when in 1483 he reprinted the book, he praises the book in the dedication for it’s moral value and …woodcut illustrations but doesn’t mention George who happened to have been beheaded for treason in 1478.
sbchess.sinfree.net/printing.html

16th Century Chess Literature

By the beginning of the 16th century, the new Queen and Bishop were well accepted in Spain and the option of moving the pawn 2 squares on the first move was common – as demonstrated in the Valencian poem Eschacs d’amor which was written probably around 1490. This is a manuscript, not a printed book but it’s importance lies in its revelations not in its influence. Castling and Queening of pawns were still in the future but for all intents and purposes, modern chess had arrived. Eschacs d’amor is very important historically because it contains the first recorded instance of a chess game using modern moves. The poem was a joint effort among three Valencian poets: Francí de Castellví, Narcís Vinyoles and Bernat Fenollar who each play the part of Mars, Venus and Mercury respectively in the 576 lined poem. In the poem Mars is playing Venus for her love in a game of chess while Mercury arbitrates. All three of these men were active members in the literary and chess circles in Valencia and because of that a lot is known about them and because a lot is known about them, this work is a key element to understanding the origins of modern chess. The game itself was probably manufactured for the purpose of the poem.

The game contains 21 moves for white and 20 for black – a ply count of 41. The poem contains 21 stanzas: Mars with the red pieces, has 21 stanzas; Venus with the green pieces has 20; Mercury, the arbitrator, also has 20 stanzas; there are 3 introductory stanzas – totaling 64 stanza (9 lines each, totaling 576 lines).
The Game
[Event “Scachs d’amor”]
[Site “Valencia”]
[Date “1490.?.?”]
 [White “Castellvi, Francisco -Mars”]
[Black “Vinoles, Narcisco -Venus”]
[ECO “B01”]
[PlyCount “41”]
[Result “1-0”]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8
4. Bc4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. h3 Bxf3
7. Qxf3 e6 8. Qxb7 Nbd7 9. Nb5 Rc8
10. Nxa7 Nb6 11. Nxc8 Nxc8 12. d4 Nd6
13. Bb5+ Nxb5 14. Qxb5+ Nd7 15. d5 exd5
16. Be3 Bd6 17. Rd1 Qf6 18. Rxd5 Qg6
19. Bf4 Bxf4 20. Qxd7+ Kf8 21. Qd8#
1-0

To play through the game, please click HERE and it will open in a new window.

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I’ve come across this site with some really interesting bits of information about the game…. questions children always tend to ask you or facts which you want to share with them about the game.

Another link about Chess History

1. What is the origin of the game of chess?

Chess is a game of war that was created in India in the 700’s. It may have been used to train warriors or as a civilized way for kingdoms to settle their differences since chess is a battle between two armies. Chess was brought to Europe by crusaders and the Moorish and Persian traders who dealt in silk, spices, from the east.

2. Why does the white player move first?

In medieval times black was thought to be a lucky colour. The white player was allowed to go first since the black player already had the advantage of the lucky colour.

3. Who are some famous chess masters?

Boris Spassky, Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Paul Morphy

4. What changes were made to moves by the queen and bishop?

In medieval chess the queen moved only one square diagonally. The medieval chess bishop could leap over pieces like a knight, and like the knight moved exactly two steps; but unlike the knight, it moved its two steps diagonally. In the late 15th century, the queen and bishop were given the powers they now have. This probably happened in Italy, France, or Spain, around 1475-1485. Modern chess was created in the same historical period that produced the printing press and the discovery of America.

5. How does a chess game represent life in medieval times?

The chess pieces represent people and places  of medieval times. Ceremonies and wars are represented by the chess game. Medieval Europeans modernized the chess game of the Persians to reflect their lives. They used the pieces to describe the lives of the ordinary and wealthy people.

 

 

image: gamesmuseum

1. When is the earliest mention of chess being played?

0531 – Chess was introduced into Persia.

2. Where did Chess originate?

India.

3. What was the earliest precursor of chess?

 

Chaturanga was the earliest chess precursor. It was created in the Punjab. Decimal chess used a 10 x 10 board.

 

4. When were the earliest chess pieces identified?

0610

5. What were some other versions of chess pieces used?

Chess was played with dice in China.

6. When was the first mention of women playing chess?

0770

7. When was chess first played in  Egypt? Spain? China? Italy? France? Russia? Greece? England? Poland

 Egypt – 0620, Spain – 0780, China – 0795, Italy – 0800, France – 0801, Russia – 0820, Greece – 0895, England – 1013,  Poland – 1100

Please click on THIS LINK to read more…and it is a good link for children-in-learning-more-about-the-game…


Click on the image for a larger view

Source: http://www.edochess.ca/batgirl/countrytournament.html

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