Monday, April 13, 2015

Chess set

My grandfather had a very special chess set of carved wooden bears. He taught me to play chess when I was a young girl, and I loved those little wooden bears. Some bears were light brown, and some were dark, so we could tell the two teams apart.

I wish I had a good photograph of it from the 1950's.  By 2008, when I took these photos, the light-brown bears had darkened with age, and were almost indistinguishable from the dark bears. It would be too confusing to play a serious game of chess with them now.

Some people thought it was confusing to have bears instead of more traditional chessmen shapes, but in our family we were accustomed to playing with the bears, and we didn't always use the standard names for the pieces. For instance, a medium-sized bear leaning forward with one foot raised behind him was called a "runner" instead of a Bishop.

In this photo you can see a Castle, King, and Queen on the left front, and a Bishop (a.k.a Runner) and Knight (a.k.a. Horse) on the right.

This scene in my sister's home in New Mexico filled me with nostalgia for the past as I recognized the chess set (under glass cover) on her window ledge, and a familiar book end, left, and our favorite board game, Scrabble.

Closeup taken by my sister in 2015
Click on image to enlarge.

I've written a column, "Playing chess with Granddaddy," published in the Danvers Herald on Thursday April 30.  It was posted online April 29: Remembering Danvers: Playing chess with Granddaddy.

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