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Chess In 1475

  • #1

    Year 1475, MCDLXXV, was a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. This year marked many important events such as the birth of the Renaissance man, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni -- the prodigious Italian painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer. On this year The Treaty of Picquigny ended a brief war between France and England. 1475 was also the year of the very first recorded chess game in history. This infamous game was played between Francesco di Castellvi and Narciso Vinyoles in Valencia, Spain. Although this game was probably not really played, it was originally invented for a poem called "Scachs d'amor" (Catalan for "Chess of Love").

    The poem is conceived as a chess game between Francesco di Castellvi and Narciso Vinyoles.  Castellvi represented Mars, Love, and had the red pieces (White in modern chess).  Vinyoles represented Venus, the Glory, and the green pieces (Black in modern chess).  Mars tries to obtain the love of Venus.  Mercury acts as an arbiter.  The arbiter, Bernat Fenollar, comments and establishes the rules.

    The poem uses chess as an allegory for love.  Its structure is based upon 64 stanzas, representing the 64 chessboard squares.  The first stanza represents White’s move, the second stanza represents Black’s moves, and the third stanza is a comment on the rules of the arbiter.  White makes 21 moves, expressed in 21 stanzas.  Black makes 20 moves, expressed in 20 stanzas.  The arbiter comments 20 times in 20 stanzas.  There are three introductory stanzas explaining the allegory, which adds up to the sum of 64 stanzas.

    Francesco di Castellvi was a lord of several towns in the area of Jativa. He acted as a close advisor in the Aragonese court of King Ferdinand (1452-1516). Narciso Vinyoles was a politician and writer in Valencia. He belonged to a family of lawyers. In 1468 he was appointed a member of the City Council.  He later became the supreme judge in civil cases.  In 1495, King Ferdinand recommended him for the position of ‘Justicia Criminal.’  Vinyoles spoke Catalan, Castillian, Latin, and Italian.  Vinyoles was married to Briandade Santangel, niece of the great banker that backed financially the first expedition of Columbus.  The couple had no children. 

    The first printed book, by Lambertus Pamert, appeared in Valencia in 1474.  It contained poems by Fenollar, Castellvi, and Vinoyles.

    Here is the game that was supposedly played:

















    article from Grakovsky

  • #2

    This is a very interesting article. Thank so much for your superb contribution. I very much enjoyed reading it.


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