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I was wondering if someone has an idea about the origin of the colors of chess pieces (black and white) and why not red and blue or green and yellow. Is it because in many cultures the symbol of enemies is black and white? or the opposit of day is night, or is it as in cat and mouse? I was also wondering which ones you prefer?
I think it's the opposite thing. Black and white are opposing colours, so it makes sense to have them as the pieces.
I'm just bumping this topic because I have the same query. Is there any racial significance historically? I'm guessing not, since it developed in India, but it is quite intriguing...
Contrast lets you tell the pieces apart.
Dark wood and light wood are easy to find. Same with dark stone and light stone.
Orange and purple materials, for example, are a little harder to find in nature, and outsourcing the whole thing to Chinese megafactories wasn't really an option back then.
It was because black & white were in vogue at the time chess was invented.
Unexciting as this is, I think it sounds the most plausible explanation...
In the early days of chess, the squares on the board were not coloured, but just divided by lines. The pieces had different colours, but they weren't necessarily black or white. I recall the habit to colour the squares (and use matching pieces) came up during the high middle ages. I think calling the pieces "black" and "white" has had rather more to do with diagrams in printing than with actual pieces. I saw at least one really old chessbook once where the colours were named "red" and "black", probably according to different ink used for the original manuscript.
I've seen plastic sets where the dark pieces were red, and they were easy to play with, and in some fine wood sets the dark pieces are walnut or rosewood. The most important thing is that the colors should be distinct enough that you never have trouble telling them apart. Black and white certainly satisfy that requirement. I'm pretty sure there is no racial subtext at all.
my black chesspieces are made from wood but theyre painted and so old the light wood color is shining through. you can still tell them apart though. this by way of useless info.
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