Feb 18, 2012, 9:43 PM |

(In today's Blog I answer a question from reader e-mail......)

Q:  Can a checkered flag be used to play a game of chess?                                                                Joe (from Etobicoke)

A:  The checkered flag is typically used to mark the end of a race and therefore the winner. Used in a variety of sports and by multiple governing bodies there does not appear to be any standard in size or number of squares.

      The origin of the checkered flag is also unclear. Theories range from; waving available tableclothes during races held at picnics, to originally marking "check" points of rally races, to the more mundane need for visibility in contrast with the background crowds at major events.

"Checking" photo histories of motorsports events over the past century reveals flag patterns of 5 x 5, 5 x 7, 6 x 8, and 6 x 10.

To play a game of chess , as we all know, you need an 8 x 8 pattern. Unless you are fortunate enough to come across a checkered flag with at least 8 x 8 squares then you would have to play a chess "variant" or patch together 2 or more flags....

Perhaps you should stick to tableclothes Joe!