Oldest recorded game of chess

Oldest recorded game of chess

Apr 5, 2015, 7:16 PM |



The English translation of "Scachs d'Amor"

The 15th century Catalan poem, "Scachs d'Amor," describes a game of chess played between Venus and Mars. The game which accompanies this text is believed to be the earliest recorded game under the modern rules of chess. The English translation of the poem below is newly available through the generosity of Dr. Josep Miquel Sobrer of Indiana University.

A poem called The Chess Game of Love [Scachs d'Amor], written by Don Francí de Castellví and Narcís Vinyoles and Mossèn [Bernat de] Fenollar, under the names of three planets: Mars, Venus, and Mercury, by conjunction and influence of which the work was devised.

Don Francí de Castellví carries the game of Mars and takes the name of Love; his standard is red [white pieces]; his King is reason, his Queen, will; his Rooks, desires; his Knights, praises; his Bishops,1 thoughts; his Pawns, services.

Narcís Vinyoles carries the game of Venus, and takes the name of Glory; his standard is green [black pieces]; his King is honor; his Queen, beauty; his Rooks, reserve; his Knights, disdains; his Bishops, sweet glances; his Pawns, courtesies.

Mossèn Fenollar speaks the effects of Mercury: first, he scans the board; he compares it to Time; he counts the number of houses, they are sixty-four; sixty-four stanzas answer to them; he proffers the laws and pacts that must be followed by the players.

The stanzas are in chain form [ABAB/BAB/CC], with nine lines each and in sequential order, that is, four, three, and two, and thus must they be written and read. In their inscriptions [epitafi] you will see the sum of their literal sense, that is, the game of chess and the pacts to be obeyed.




The poem uses the game as an allegory for love. Its structure is based upon sixty-four stanzas (the same number as for the chessboard squares), nine verses each. The stanzas are grouped three after three: The first stanza in the group represents the White move, the second one the Black's move, and the third one a comment on the rules by the arbiter. The three stanzas in the beginning are an introduction and the last one is checkmate.

Supposedly, the game played is the first one documented with the modern rules of chess.