Omniana/Volume 2/Chess

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

187. Chess.

The King of Prussia and Marshal Keith played chess with soldiers,—the most innocent game they ever played with them. It had been done before them by Akber the Mogul. In a palace of his at Tuttahpoor his chess court is still shown, and the elevated seat from whence he directed the moves[1]. Mr Scott[2] describes Sir Gaheret's game with the Fairy, where massive statues of gold and silver moved at the touch of a magic wand; but the adventure to which he refers in the Romance of Lancelot du Lac is a different one,. . the Knight played one set and the other played themselves.

A learned school divine of Huarte's acquaintance used to play chess with his servant and was generally beat by him. "Sirrah," said he one day in his anger, "how comes it to pass that thou who hast no skill neither in Latin nor Logick nor Divinity shouldst beat me who am full of Scotus and St. Thomas? Is it possible that thou shouldst have a better wit than I? verily I cannot believe it except the Devil tells thee what moves to make."

There is a curious passage concerning this game in Huarte. "The Moors, as they are great players at chess, have in their soldiers pay set seven degrees, in imitation of the seven draughts which the pawn must make to be a Queen; and so they enlarge the pay from one to the second, and from the second to the third, untill they arive to seven, answerable to the proof that the soldier shall give of himself; and if he be so gallant as to enlarge his pay to the seventh they yield him the same; and for this cause they are termed Septerniers or sevensters. These have large liberties and exemptions, as in Spain those gentlemen who are called hidalgos."

  1. Hunter's Journey from Agra to Oujein. Asiatic Researches, 8vo. edit. Vol. 6, p. 76.
  2. Note to Sir Tristrem. p. 259.