The writ­ing’s on the board: chess in pop­u­lar cul­ture

Country Life Every Week - - Liberty -

In Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale, we read: ‘They daun­cen and they pleyen at ches and ta­bles’ (they dance and play at chess and backgam­mon)

At the end of The Tem­pest, Shake­speare re­veals Mi­randa and Fer­di­nand play­ing chess, a game then as­so­ci­ated with aris­to­cratic courtship

Chess, played on a gi­ant board, is a dom­i­nant mo­tif in Lewis Car­roll’s ‘Alice’ se­quel, Through the Look­ing Glass, and What Alice Found There (above)

In The Ad­ven­ture of the Re­tired Colour­man in The Case­book of Sher­lock Holmes, the de­tec­tive de­rides one char­ac­ter’s ex­cel­lence at chess as be­ing ‘one mark, Wat­son, of a schem­ing mind’

A game of chess plays a key role in Strid­ing Folly, a Lord Peter Wim­sey short story by Dorothy L. Say­ers. An ivory set also ap­pears in Gaudy Night

Harry Pot­ter learns Wizard’s Chess in Harry Pot­ter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

In Chess, Sir Tim Rice’s 1984 col­lab­o­ra­tion with Björn Ul­vaeus and Benny An­der­son, the moves on the board were rather more well con­sid­ered than the ro­man­tic en­tan­gle­ments off it. The his­tory of the game (‘Chess dis­played no in­ter­tia/ Soon moved to Per­sia/then west’) and the roll call of world cham­pi­ons were key el­e­ments of the mu­si­cal

Steve Mc­queen and Faye Du­n­away (be­low) gave chess a sen­sual slant in 1968’s The Thomas Crown Af­fair, play­ing a lan­guid (and loaded) game to the strains of The Wind­mills of Your Mind

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