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"Queenie, the most powerful" Topic

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683 hits since 19 Jan 2015
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Great War Ace Inactive Member19 Jan 2015 12:56 p.m. PST

Why is it that, in the "man's world" of antiquity, the game of chess created the one and only female piece to be the most powerful? Were men subconsciously admitting that women are the most powerful force in the world/universe? Whatever the reason was it must have been complex. It is counter-intuitive to make the most subjected half of humanity the most powerful piece in the game that formed one of the most popular diversions for both sexes. Discuss, please….

Streitax Inactive Member19 Jan 2015 1:10 p.m. PST

Perhaps because the Queen was the second most powerful person AND was 'expendable'. She could be sent out to influence and direct events and act in the King's name while the King saw to those things that required his personal attention. And if she did not return? Well, just a chance to forge new alliances with another marriage.

Toronto48 Inactive Member19 Jan 2015 2:16 p.m. PST

Chess is believed to have originated in Eastern India, c. 280 550 CE,so not exactly antiquity It became popular in the surrounding area and the throughout the region Chess was adopted by the Muslim Empire around the mid 630's CE when they conquered Persia and from there worked its way to Europe The Muslims called it Shatranj Europeans shortened that to "Shah" from the name of the most important piece the Kng or Shah From that came our word Check and Chess

In Shatranj, the piece corresponding to the modern chess "queen" (though far weaker) was often called Wazīr. As many stories tell us, the Wazir or Vizier was often the actual power behind the throne and many were great manipulators Whle they were not the head of state (King)the vizirs often had powers greater then the king but lost their position when the king's rule ended ( Checkmate)

In Europe the position of vizier was not known so it evolved to that of the Queen and slowly as the game developed gained more power and influence in the game Scholars estimate that by 1475 Chess as we play t today was firmly established

The development of the Queen was possibly influenced by the many famous Queens and Empresses" of the Middle Ages whose lives and actions became well known. It is easy to see such personages as the Empress Matilda, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Berengaria as being considered as role models for the Queen in Chess.

Great War Ace Inactive Member19 Jan 2015 5:37 p.m. PST

Yes, there have been powerful women rulers. But far more common are the child-bearing ones without political status. The most powerful female ruler in British history was of course Good Queen Bess. But chess was already set by then. Berengaria I never saw as a powerful queen. But Eleanor certainly was. Matilda was more of a "king" figure than a queen!

I can see the eastern, earlier versions of chess as "queenless", certainly. And if Europe was where the vizier evolved into the queen, it still remains a strange development of a "man's game", to have the only female piece as the "queen of the battlefield". The real world proscribed women in such roles.

I can see a subtle admission that "behind every great man is a great(er) woman", who at the same time is not ultimately equal or as important to "the state". It just seems like a rare admission among men and not so common as to cause the development of the queen in chess. This pov is, of course, denied by the very fact that the queen is the most powerful piece.

A romanticized view of the middle ages has women in a submissive role, even extremely so. Or rather, a chauvinistic view of the middle ages views women so. Were women actually far more powerful and influential than more recent cultural (and religious) mores cared to admit?

Was male chauvinism more entrenched after the middle ages? Is the fact of the queen in chess evidence for this theory?…

Cyrus the Great19 Jan 2015 6:10 p.m. PST

Isabella of Spain is said to to have made the Queen the powerful piece it is today. She argued that Queen piece should embody all that she was as an actual Queen.

Great War Ace Inactive Member20 Jan 2015 10:37 a.m. PST


And the years fit! Fascinating….

skinkmasterreturns24 Jan 2015 10:18 p.m. PST

The king insisted, so that the queen would be moved around on the board and he wouldn't have to sit and listen to her the entire game.

DS6151 Inactive Member16 Feb 2015 10:34 a.m. PST

Chess is a game of political influence, not a war game.
The King is the objective, not a participant.
The Queen obviously has the most influence over the subtle machinations of court politics.

Great War Ace Inactive Member18 Feb 2015 7:37 p.m. PST

Pawns behave like shield-locked infantry. Knights jump opponents (signifying their maneuverability). Battlefields are broken up into "squares" on maps. Court politics are far too subtle to be analogous to a grid. And then we have the "vizier", not a queen, in the earlier versions of chess. The question remains: was the queen made the most powerful piece all in one fell swoop, by the sole influence of Isabella? Or was the queen piece gaining power by earlier developments to the rules of the game? I'm sure that your final statement is true, especially of Isabella. So I am going with the modern queen originating with her, unless someone can show otherwise….

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