Chess: a Battle of Warriors?
Chess is war (or at least some see it that way.)
Chess players and warriors have been compared for centuries. In fact, chess has been referred to as the “game of kings” because the central figure is the Shah or King. The game ends in Shahmat (literally, The King is Dead) after one kingdom defeats another.
In this blog, we’ll explore a few connections between chess and war as portrayed in literature and music.
Connections between Chess and Conflict in Music and Literature
JK Rowling also uses chess as a metaphor during a pivotal scene in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” In a life-sized version of chess Hermione was a rook, Harry a bishop, and Ron a knight. What happened emphasized the necessary sacrificial nature a warrior must have–he must be willing to give himself up for the success of the mission.
The musical “Chess” by Tim Rice and Benny Andersson follows two chess players, one representing the United States and the other representing the Soviet Union. The game becomes a metaphor for the Cold War. My students enjoyed singing and dancing to “The Arbiter,” one of the numbers from this musical, at a special presentation for families.
In my children’s book “The Princess, the Knight, and the Lost God,” my 12-year-old heroine Princess Kassie embarks upon a mission to use her chess knowledge on Earth in order to strengthen the kingdom of Chess Mountain, where war was about to commence.
Princess Kassie’s adventures faithfully build upon existing mythology about her mother, Caïssa (the goddess of chess,) who was enamored of Mars, the god of war!
In Jonathan Ferry’s “Across the Battlefield: A Pawn’s Journey,” little Prunella is a pawn who dreams of becoming a queen. Determined, she enters the combat zone and witnesses many conflicts up close, learning valuable life lessons.
The journey of Prunella echoes Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” published in 1871 as a sequel to “Alice in Wonderland.” Alice journeys as a pawn to become a queen; the knights and bishops came to life. Foreshadowing the Chess in Education pedagogy of today, Enid Shawyer (nee Stevens), a child who played chess with an adult Lewis Carroll, later wrote of heated discussions during their game over the rights of queens and the ownership of castles. When Carroll was critiqued by chess critics for not following the strict rules of the game, Carroll confessed that his characters would sometimes take liberties, such as sometimes not alternating moves.
The similarities between chess players and warriors demonstrate the universal human qualities of strategy, mental toughness, and sacrifice that are essential for success in any endeavor.
Welcome to my ChessDefender Blog!
My name is Victoria Winifred. I’ve been teaching elementary students since 2006, and my rosters have included gifted and talented populations as well as inclusive classrooms. Doubly certified as a mentor for teachers, I also have a graduate certificate in Chess in Education. I’m here to provide support, strategies, facts, and resources for including chess in your classroom, regardless of the demographics of your students.
What would help you?
I welcome your ideas and questions, and would love to hear about your own experiences on the topic. Your feedback will be considered for the blog if submitted. (Permission will first be asked if selected.)
Please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Victoria Winifred has used chess as the theme for her classroom since 2007, and has a Chess in Education graduate certificate. Doubly-certified as a mentor for teachers, she is here for you as an education consultant to provide support, strategies, facts, and resources for including chess in your classroom, regardless of the demographics of your students. Please feel free to reach out for help!
She is also the author of an award-winning chess fiction book for kids with more titles coming out later this year.
Write her at email@example.com