Templar Knights Played Chess

Templar Knights Played Chess

Apr 29, 2009, 6:56 PM |

Chess fascinates me because it is not only the greatest medieval game ever (by "medieval game" I mean a game that stylistically incorporates medieval elements such as "knights" and castle-like "Rooks"), but is also a game that existed in that glorious era.  After all, there are lots of "medieval games" (e.g., World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, Medieval: Total War, etc.), but only Chess can actually claim to have been played by actual knights and kings of that historical period.  When you stop and think about it, it is an awe-inspiring realization to understand that any chess player has a direct gaming kinship to those men and women of one of the most iconic periods in human history.

Case in point, this painting:

What we have here is a medieval painting of two Templar Knights - yes, those Templar knights - playing a game of chess.  Incredible!  It is a remarkable testament to the enduring legacy of the Royal Game.  I love this painting and have it as my desktop background. 

It's a little difficult to tell, but I think the chess position in the picture is thus:


White would be the knight on the left.  If I have rendered this position correctly, I believe the knight playing as White is admonishing his adversary for checking his king.  According to Chessmaster, Black has a mate in three (use your mouse pointer to highlight the space between the astericks for the answer):

**** 1.Rf1 Bc3+ 2.Rb2 Re1+ 3.Rxe1 Qxe1# 0-1 ****

Again, if I rendered it correctly, the painting seems to depict a ficticious situation as I see no way for the Queen to have slid into her check below the two rooks.  So, it would seem the board position is more of a puzzle than an actual game.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate this image again since I first downloaded it.  Does anybody know where I can find out a little more about the history of this bit of medieval art?