Make Chess Not War

Jun 15, 2012, 7:35 AM |

Marostica, Nr Italy. The town boasts two castles: the Castello Inferiore (Lower Castle) a virtually unique setting for Town Council meetings and the Castello Superiore (Upper Castle) up the hill. But on the second weekend of September in even years such as 2010 these attractions take a back seat to the Partita a Scacchi (Chess Game) with human players decked out in medieval costumes. This practice first started in 1454 when two local noblemen Renaldo D. and Vieri da V. fell in love with the beautiful Lionora P., the daughter of the Lord of Marostica. They were ready to duel for the hand of that fair lady. Fortunately, the future father-in-law wanted no duel and insisted on a chess game to be played in the square near the lower castle. The winner will marry Lionora and the loser will marry her younger sister, Oldrada. The whole town showed up to watch the match. History does not record whether Lionora was rooting for the eventual winner or not.   

Every other year this epic human chess game is re-enacted with all the pageantry and glamour of the supposed original event. The moves are announced in the local dialect and the performance includes over 550 people, lasts for 2 hours and is concluded with a great fireworks display. The modern version was introduced in 1923 and claims to faithfully recreate the events of some 600 years before. The next time the display is due to be organized in 2012.