Friday, 17 August 2012
Pieces of A Chess Set: Once A Knight
You may be looking for chess sets to buy and are looking at the various themed chess sets available to buy and you might even consider a nice carved chess set. One of the pieces that that varies very little in design is the Knight (unless you are buying a Winnie the Pooh chess set, of course!).
In the original Indian Chaturanga form of chess, the Knight was shown as a mounted warrior with a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. In all the chess sets since, the Knight has had an equestrian theme with the Medieval chess sets going to town with a nice carved warrior on horseback.
Of course the Knight is unique in the way it moves. It leaps two squares up and one diagonally: it has been said this movement (also pretty well unchanged through the ages) imitates the skittish movement of a horse. This is also the only one of the pieces of a chess set that can leap over other pieces (again, an equestrian characteristic?). It takes another piece by landing on the square occupied by that piece in its final landing.
A Knight can be valuable during a game as it moves in a more unpredictable way than other pieces, although it can be threatened by Pawns if it lands amongst them. It's very erratic movement can be a weakness, as the player needs to understand where it can move next or which of the opponent's pieces threaten the Knight. For this reason many top players rate a Bishop more highly. However, a Knight may be a greater threat to a Queen, as the latter cannot take it so easily.
The movement of the Knight has lead to a mathematical pattern called 'the Knight's Tour.' This tracks the progression of the piece around a chessboard and produces a fascinating trace. Tracking the movement has become a classic challenge to set computer students. Interestingly, this pattern was first identified in India in the ninth Century and the first mathematical procedure was published in 1823.
So there you have it: the Knight is not only of historical interest but mathematical note too. And you just thought the pieces of a chess set were decorative!
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