Sunday, 4 December 2016

Grandad's Chess Pieces

An old boarded-up shed on my parents' farm contained what was left of my Grandad's bakery.

I used to love exploring old sheds when I was young. I had previously considered this shed inaccessible, but about thirty years ago managed to find a way in and slithered through the small gaps between the tightly-packed furniture, eventually discovering some wooden chess pieces in a drawer. I've had them with me ever since.

I lost a pawn from the set under the house that Davina and I were living in about twenty years ago. Our cat Malamba (or Malamber, as Davina insists it should be spelt) had a litter of kittens, and one of them knocked the pawn down a hole in the floor of the old house.

So, for a while, the set was one pawn down.

The set remained incomplete until maybe a couple of years later - I forget how long now - when I was sitting down to a game of chess with my mate Evan at Chez Eelco, the cafe that used to be at the top of Trafalgar Street in Nelson.

The cafe had a mismatched set of chess pieces. As soon as I picked up a pawn with a sudden intake of breath, I looked at Evan and he said, "Say no more, mate, say no more," understanding me completely - it matched my lost one, and I quietly slipped the pawn into the pocket of my jeans. The mismatched set still had enough pawns to make a full set and then some, so I didn't feel too bad about taking the piece.

A storm destroyed the old shed at some point through the years, so I'm glad I found and rescued the chess pieces when I had the chance.


7 comments:

  1. I don't want to give away my age, but about fifty years ago I had a set of chess pieces that looked exactly like these, in a wooden box with a sliding lid and mortices edges ...

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    1. Nice one, Rich - one of my local chess adversaries has the same style etc but slightly larger. They must have been everywhere back in the day :D

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  2. It's interesting to speculate about the factory where they were produced. They were made of wood to a consistent, high standard. This was industrial revolution 2 - automated electro-mechanical mass production. IR3 gave us digital chess. We are on the verge of IR4 ... I guess this means humanoid opponents like the bot in Star Wars - I think he was called C3PO

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    1. Interesting points, for sure. A lot has changed in the world in the 50/60 years since they must've been made!

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    2. So much has changed since he first game of chess 1500 years ago - and most of the changes have happened durng he lifetime of those chess pieces.

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    3. Another very perceptive comment, Rich!

      Speaking of the first game of chess - I picked up a copy of the 900 page A History Of Chess by H. J. R. Murray a while ago ... haven't quite got around to delving into it. Might leave it for a particularly bleak winter when I have a whole lotta time to kill...

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