Tuesday, 24 January 2012
You may not know about the range of themed chess sets that are available. If you are looking for chess sets online, have a look at the chess sets for sale at ChessSetHeaven.com. If the carved chess set that inspires your interest is the one based on the theme of Canterbury Cathedral, you might like to know something about the history and life of that amazing building set in South East England, in the lovely county of Kent.
Canterbury Cathedral has a very long and enthralling history. We have to go all the way back to 596 AD to find the origins of the cathedral. They date back to the time of St. Augustine. Augustine was sent as a missionary to England by Pope Gregory the Great. The Pope made Augustine an Archbishop and he established his seat in the in the Roman city of Canterbury on the river Stour. The word cathedral comes from the Latin word for seat, which is ‘cathedra’.
The Saxon and Viking eras saw many changes on the site at Canterbury. These included the building of a baptistry, the lengthening of the nave and the addition of a Benedictine abbey.
Unfortunately, the Danish raids of 1011 badly damaged the cathedral. However, it was rebuilt by the Norman Archbishop Lanfranc and was dedicated in 1077.
If you knew anything about Canterbury Cathedral before looking at themed chess sets it was probably the brutal murder of one of its archbishops within the building itself. In December 1170, the knights of King Henry II killed Thomas Beckett in the northwest transept of the cathedral.
Then, only four years later, disaster struck again – this time in the form of a devastating fire, which destroyed a large part of the building. The rebuilding of the cathedral was, for the most part, paid for by the income from pilgrims who visited Becket’s shrine. Even if you didn’t read any of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales at school, you will surely have heard of his stories of some of pilgrims to Canterbury.
A visitor to Canterbury in the 12th century would have seen separate groups of buildings. It would have been possible to distinguish the church, the menial buildings and those devoted to monastic life. The work of the cathedral as a monastery ended in 1540. This followed further disaster and rebuilding when an earthquake in 1382 caused great damage and the nave was rebuilt.
The cathedral experienced further damage from the Puritans during the English Civil War in the 17th century. Much of the old stained glass was destroyed and horses were stabled in the nave. It took several years to repair the damage.
In the 19th century, Lanfranc’s North West tower was found to be dangerous. It was demolished and replaced with a copy of the South West tower.
During the Second World War, the diligence of a team of firewatchers ensured that, although the Precincts were badly affected, the cathedral itself was not seriously damaged.
Visitors from all over the world still flock to Canterbury Cathedral every day. They marvel at its architecture and its history. Many appreciate the time they can spend in this place of prayer that has been a focus for pilgrimages for so many years.
Go to ChessSetHeaven.com to find Canterbury Cathedral themed chess sets made with hand painted chess set pieces.
Monday, 16 January 2012
On ChessSetHeaven.com we have talked about the history of chess quite a lot. We have talked about chess set pieces came about and how the game developed. But even the humble chessboard from your best chess set has a history and it revolves largely around its mathematical significance.
The story goes that an inventor or the creator of chess in ancient India (it depends which story you listen to) presented his idea to the king. The king was delighted and asked what reward the inventor wanted.
The man was very clever and, after a little thought, he asked that the king take his best chess set and board and place one grain of wheat on the first square, two on the second, four on the third and so on, doubling the quantity on each successive square.
The king thought this was a feeble request and asked his ministers to go away and sort this out for him. After a week the ministers came back and said it could not be done as the reward was far too high. The king was a little miffed that he had been outsmarted and cut off the inventor's head.
The answer is of course, on the last square of the chessboard there would need to be 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains of wheat - or so I am told.
There are many versions of this story but whatever the original setting, this is the first, and perhaps most famous, connection of the chessboard with mathematics.
The nature of the chessboard design has meant it has been used as a calculating tool for centuries.
If you look up at the top of a column in the north transept of Winchester cathedral in the United Kingdom, you might be lucky to glimpse a small carving of a man holding a chess board, looking as if he wants to play with his chess set pieces.
In reality this carving shows a man using the chessboard as a calculating tool. This was quite common in Medieval Europe and the board represented a sort of flat abacus.
The use of a chess or chequer board in this way is still reflected in the name of the highest financial official in the land - the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Centuries ago the nation's finances were calculated on a chequer board and so this important calculator became forever connected to the post.
So next time you pull out you best chess set for a game, you may reflect on the significance of even the board you play upon.
Looking to find the best chess set for your needs or as a gift that will never be forgotten? Visit ChessSetHeaven.com for a range of high quality themed chess sets and chess boards that will suit you perfectly.
Thursday, 12 January 2012
Have you ever handled chess set pieces and wondered where the game of chess originated?
Hopefully you were not thinking about this when you were in the middle of a game but nonetheless the story of the game is fascinating and extends over many centuries - and will continue for a long time, especially as it is easy to get chess sets online now.
Many traditions started in India. It is believed martial arts began in that great country before moving into China and Japan so it should not be a big surprise that such a significant game as chess began there too.
It is difficult to establish just when the game began but the first references to chess set pieces are recorded by Ratnakara around the year 850. It would be fascinating to examine a carved chess set from that period but sadly the earliest example of an Indian chess set dates from the 16th century - actually newer than the Isle of Lewis set found in Scotland - although a carving of a bowman in the Museum of Indian Art in Berlin (dating from around the twelfth or fourteenth centuries) may well be a chess pawn.
The names of the pieces reflect their origins. The earliest king was called 'Raja' which, indeed, means 'king' but the queen was a 'Mantri, ' which actually means 'minister.' Interestingly the bishop was originally known as 'Hasty' or 'elephant,' an animal that features much in the early history of the game. Indeed, early chess kings and queens would appear in palanquins strapped to the back of an elephant.
The knight was an 'Ashwa' or 'horse' and the rook a 'Ratha' or 'chariot,' thus showing just how far the fascinating history has developed over the years. Perhaps not surprisingly however, the lowly pawn was always a 'Padah' or 'soldier': the piece has always been seen as the infantry of the set.
So when you pick up a piece from your best chess set, you might reflect on how many people though the ages have done the same thing.
Wondering where to buy chess sets? Take a look at the quality chess sets to be found at ChessSetheaven.com and pick up your own piece of history.
Wednesday, 4 January 2012
You may have had a carved chess set for Christmas or are thinking of buying a themed chess set. Or, you may have found the best chess set years ago. Your chess set may be out all the time as an aesthetic addition to your décor. Chess sets can be lovely to look at. See ChessSetHeaven.com for some great examples.
However, the best thing about chess is the way it stimulates the intellect – providing a thrilling way to spend time with friends and family. Making the most of your chess set pieces requires you to understand the many technical terms in use in this great game.
In two previous blog posts, I detailed a selection of chess terms. Here are some more for the keen player to learn:
- Advantage refers to a supremacy in terms of material or position.
- Attack is a general way of describing manoeuvres which force the opponent into a position where their options for responding are either passive defence or counter-attack.
- Exchanges refers to the situation where pieces of the same worth are seized on either side.
- File is a vertical line on the chessboard, encompassing eight squares of alternate colours. When there are no pawns on any of its squares it is referred to as open. This is very important for stronger action by the Rooks)
- Fork describes a pawn attacking two pieces at the same time.
If you don’t have your own set, you can find a selection of chess sets online at ChessSetHeaven.com.