Blogpost1
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

Blogpost1

on

  • 491 views

 

Statistics

Views

Total Views
491
Views on SlideShare
491
Embed Views
0

Actions

Likes
0
Downloads
0
Comments
0

0 Embeds 0

No embeds

Accessibility

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Adobe PDF

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment

Blogpost1 Blogpost1 Document Transcript

  • Mae  Tidman  January  26,  2010  LCC  4725    -­‐  Game  Design  as  a  Cultural  Practice  Blogpost  1  –  drawing  from  the  reading  “Birth  of  the  Chess  Queen”       The  Culture  of  Chess:  Spain,  Religion,  and  Chess         The  history  of  chess  includes  periods  where  the  game  was  banned  by  the  ruling  religion.  Because  chess  was  often  associated  with  betting  and  chance  (with  the  use  of  dice),  the  Church  opposed  the  game  (Yalom  28).  Ruling  religions  would  sometimes  ban  chess  play,  ordering  the  destruction  of  all  chess  sets  in  some  cases.  For  example,  the  Church  ordered  a  number  of  ecclesiastical  decrees  banning  chess  for  the  clergy  and  knightly  orders  in  the  11th  century,  but  these  were  often  ignored  and  did  not  inhibit  the  spread  of  the  game  (29).  In  general,  Muslims  maintained  that  as  long  as  chess  was  played  with  nonrealistic  pieces,  without  interfering  with  the  performance  of  religious  duties,  and  if  it  was  not  played  for  money  and  did  not  lead  to  disputes,  then  it  was  an  acceptable  pastime.  From  time  to  time  in  the  ancient  Middle  East,  a  strict  Muslim  ruler  would  prohibit  the  game  and  order  the  destruction  of  all  sets  (8).     Even  up  to  the  introduction  of  the  queen  piece,  replacing  the  vizier  on  increasing  amounts  of  chessboards,  the  Muslim  world’s  chess  figures  continued  to  be  represented  abstractly,  with  the  vizier  maintaining  his  position  beside  the  king.  Jewish  chess  sets  are  found  with  abstract  pieces  and  representational  pieces;  since  they,  too,  were  prohibited  from  making  graven  images  but  were  less  rigid  on  the  matter  than  Muslims.  The  queen  did  end  up  in  the  hands  of  Jewish  players,  as  evidenced  by  some  Hebrew  texts  of  Spanish  origin.  European  Christianity  encouraged  the  portrayal  of  humans,  animals,  and  the  divine,  and  even  easily  identifiable  queens  were  found  on  chessboards.  (52-­‐53)    Just  a  brief  overview  of  Spain’s  religious  history  will  reveal  a  timeline  of  battle  and  strife  between  Christianity,  Islam,  and  Judaism.  The  country  was  first  Christianized  while  part  of  the  Roman  Empire  and  remained  Catholic  for  centuries,  until  the  700s  when  Islam  set  its  ruling  dominance  over  Spain  until  1492  (Wikipedia).  Ancient  through  medieval  Spain  was  the  scene  of  almost  constant  warfare  between  Muslims  and  Christians,  not  to  mention  persecution  of  opposing  religions  by  the  dominant  one.  Conversion  to  Christianity  was  necessary  for  professional  advancement  (52).     Chess  was  brought  to  Spain  by  Arab  conquerors  in  the  9th  century.  It  should  be  noted  that  for  some  time  Christians  and  Jews  were  legally  protected  from  persecution  in  Islamic  Spain  as  long  as  they  did  not  publicize  their  faith.  Marilyn  Yalom  explains  in  her  book,  “Chess  figured  prominently  in  this  cosmopolitan  setting  [Cordoba,  Spain]  where  Muslims,  Christians,  and  Jews  played  the  game  together,  the  women  as  well  as  the  men”.  (11)  This  may  come  as  a  shock  considering  the  turmoil  
  • of  clashing  religions  in  Spain’s  history,  and  its  mention  is  mere  in  Yalom’s  book,  yet  the  implications  for  chess  and  even  gaming  are  HUGE  –  but  more  on  that  later.  Chess  continued  to  spread  throughout  Spain,  and  by  the  11th  century  it  was  developing  a  mass  of  dedicated  players  and  a  distinctive  style  of  chessmen  (43).  Abstract  chessmen  of  the  Muslim  type  continued  to  outnumber  representational  chessmen  in  medieval  Spain,  even  among  Christians  (57).  Chess  in  Spain  was  not  only  played  by  those  who  were  confined  to  the  indoors  such  as  nursing  women  and  ill,  old,  and/or  bedridden  people;  in  fact,  it  was  also  a  mandatory  skill  for  Spain’s  elite  warriors  (52)  and  was  cherished  by  many  kings,  especially  King  Alfonso  VI  (reigning  the  later  half  of  the  11th  century)  and  King  Alfonso  X  of  Castile.  Alfonso  VI’s  court  welcomed  other  chess  enthusiasts  regardless  of  their  religion  (47).  Two  centuries  later,  Alfonso  X  commissioned  a  manuscript  The  Book  of  the  Games  of  Chess,  Dice,  and  Boards  (57).     Alfonso  X’s  book  has  sixty  illustrations  of  the  game  of  chess  being  played  by  kings,  queens,  courtiers,  foreign  visitors,  Christians,  Muslims,  and  Jews.  Depicted  are  matches  between  mixed  sexes,  mixed  religions,  and  mixed  social  statuses  (59).  Alfonso  X  and  his  queen  Violante  of  Aragon  obviously  had  no  problems  with  this  sort  of  mingling  over  a  chessboard,  and  it  should  be  noted  that  the  Christian  king  and  his  immediate  predecessors  and  successors  did  not  actively  persecute  Jews  and  Muslims,  instead  he  and  Violante  drew  on  all  three  religious  communities  to  create  a  composite  intellectual  culture.  During  their  reign,  chess  occupied  an  honored  position  as  a  favorite  past  time  of  the  royalty,  the  nobility,  and  the  clergy  (65-­‐66).     As  you  can  see,  religion  and  chess  have  had  an  awkward  relationship,  the  latter  typically  succumbing  to  the  reigns  of  religion.  But  in  a  special  place  at  a  special  time,  the  two  danced  together,  and  when  that  happened,  religious,  cultural,  and  gender  differences  were  set  aside  as  a  meaningful  game  of  chess  played  out  on  the  board.  Since  chess  was  born  “an  emblem  of  the  art  of  war”(4),  it  makes  sense  that  different  cultures  could  meet  on  opposing  ends  of  the  chessboard  and  interact  from  there.  In  Muslim  story  tales  from  Arabian  Nights  and  European  versions,  princes  and  princesses  are  converted  to  the  acceptable  religion  after  a  game  of  chess.  This  intermingling  of  cultures  is  so  important  to  the  entire  world’s  history,  and  to  think  chess  was  an  agent  for  this  centuries  ago.  It  is  obvious  that  games  play  that  role  in  the  world  today  because  of  network  gaming  and  cultural  gaming,  but  it  is  surprising  to  find  that  in  a  time  far  different  from  the  current  when  cultures  only  mingled  on  the  borderlines  that  chessboards  were  a  medium  for  the  exchange  or  at  least  acceptance  of  differences.      Resources  "Religion and Chess" Chess.com: Play. Learn. Share. Web."Religion in Spain." Wikipedia. Web.Yalom, Marilyn. Birth of the Chess Queen A History. New York: HarperCollins,2004. Print.