On chess and gratitude and a dig at the loony Left

First and foremost, thank you to the reader who sent from my wishlist (‘happy birthday to me’) the wonderful “Lewis” chessmen, found on Lewis Island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, not at Lewes in Sussex where friends of mine labor in the Lord’s vineyard and whence came Thomas Paine, a man for our own time now.  Some years back I saw the 12th c. Lewis chessmen in the British Museum, which has most of them, and found them striking.   In general I prefer to play with Staunton pieces, or very similar.  These special chessmen, however, are wonderful.   They were discovered in 1831.

After that, their history would be the stuff of a great thriller, if someone creative could work it out.

A while back I posted an invitation to Catholic clerics who might play chess to drop me a line.  I had a few nibbles.  I’m patient.

I also want to send thanks out to people whom I don’t know, but who sent practical things in large and heavy boxes.  You know who you are, if I don’t, and God knows you as well.  May God reward you.

Thank you to all who have sent monthly donations and ad hoc contributions.  Thank you to you special “200” project givers.  Some have dropped by the way side, perhap others will take up the baton and keep it going.

Thank you for your prayers and notes.

I have been regularly saying Mass for the intention of my benefactors, as I did today.  Today, ALL benefactors seemed appropriate for “All Saints”.

Meanwhile, in other chess news, one of you sent this amusing bit from The People’s Cube which I haven’t seen for some time.

Buy Now: Anti-racist Chess!

In traditional chess, white gets to go first. A shocking and racist beginning to anything, but pretty much what you’d expect from a game invented by white people.*

Anti-racist Chess is an updated, more equitable version of this ancient but problematic pastime.

How to Play

The rules are similar to traditional chess with these modifications to make it more fair for the Pieces of Color (PoC):

    1. Before playing, the skin color of both players is determined. The players are to be assigned their pieces based on skin color if at all possible: black players get the black pieces, racist white people get the racist white pieces, etc. If both players are the same skin color, the player with the fewest grievances must play as white.
    2. Before the game starts, the black player gets to draw two ‘race cards’ from the Diverstity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) deck.
    3. Black gets to move first.
    4. All the black pieces can move anywhere on the board during their turn. Only one piece can be moved per turn.
    5. The white pieces can only move forward one square. Only one piece can be moved per turn.
    6. Players are permitted to play a race card at any time, which allows them to remove any one of their opponent’s pieces from the board. After the race card has been played, another can be drawn from the deck.
    7. Just like traditional chess, the first player to place the other player’s king in checkmate wins. Stalemates are also possible, in which case the black player automatically wins to make up for past injustices.

History of the game

Critical Race Theory (CRT) Professor Kincade X. Charletien noticed a disturbing trend in the game of chess in 2016. He analyzed 632 chess matches going back to 1948 and discovered this shocking fact: white wins 54.6% of the time. While most people would make this obvious example of systemic racism known by the usual methods – publication of a book, writing an expose for the New York Times, or burning down a city – Dr. Charletien decided to go a different route. Like the inventor of Monopoly, he would seek to educate the toiling masses by harnessing mankind’s natural attraction to games and puzzles.

He invented Anti-Racist Chess in 2019 and it became an instant classic, replacing ‘racist chess’ nearly everywhere in the US and selling over 87 million copies in the first year.

Makes an excellent Kwanzaa gift!
* Some people still believe chess was invented in India 1,300 years ago, but that has been shown to be an elaborate hoax: Chess was actually invented by white slave traders in 1619.

Speaking of racism and prejudice, I suppose my friends in Lewes are preparing for the annual Catholic bashing coming up on 5 November.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Chess, SESSIUNCULA, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ProfessorCover says:

    I thought I was reading Babylon bee there fir a second!

  2. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Catching up on Thomas L. McDonald’s post, “The Patron Saint of Gamers?”, I read, “Reader Mark Franceschini had this to say:

    “I’ve always recommended St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568 – 1591), based on a story I once read. He was playing chess with some seminarians, and someone posed the question, ‘what would you do if you knew you had but an hour to live?’ One said he would go to confession, another that he would pray before the Blessed Sacrament, but not Saint Aloysius. He reasoned that, since his superiors gave him permission to play the game, and he had no other pressing duties, clearly, this is what God wanted him to do. So, in his final hour, he would finish the game!”

  3. Philliesgirl says:

    Indeed Fr Z you are correct about Lewes. People have been strongly advised not to travel to Lewes in view of COVID, but that will probably only ensure extra numbers. I think it must be quite terrifying. I’ve lived in Sussex for the majority of my life but obviously I’ve never been. My son in law, a serving police officer at the time, was sent to Lewes one year for bonfire night and said it was one of the worst experiences of his life.

  4. PostCatholic says:

    When the game is over, the king and the pawn go into the same box.

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  6. Semper Gumby says:

    The annual November 5 bonfire at Lewes in England marks a reasonable achievement: the foiling of a 17th-century plot to blow up Parliament. Though, one suspects the Libs also at work, as previous bonfires have burned in effigy Pres. Trump and Prime Minister Thatcher- the latter who with St. John Paul II and Pres. Reagan defeated the Evil Empire.

    Perhaps at some point during the other 364 days of the year our Protestant brethren and sisteren of Lewes could pause to appreciate: Leo the Great and St. Jerome; Fabiola’s first hospital in Rome and Scholastica’s Benedictine nuns; the Desert Fathers and on a rocky island at the edge of the world the monks of Skellig Michael; the Celtic monasteries and St. Benedict’s Rule; St. Augustine and his Confessions and City of God; the Church inspiring chivalry among knights, the Peace and Truce of God among the feudal aristocracy, and ethics among merchants and bankers; Catholic soldiers holding the line at Tours and Malta, smashing the line at Lepanto and Vienna; St. Thomas Aquinas’ Christian theology and classical philosophy; sailing from the Old World to discover a New and portaging canoes in the wilderness to show souls a better way; building cathedrals and filling them with Michelangelo and Mozart; preaching by Bishop John Carroll and Cardinal John Henry Newman; shepherding by Fr. Francis Duffy and Fr. Francis Gleeson and Fr. Maximilian Kolbe; the scientific inquiry of Gregor Mendel and Georges Lemaitre.

    Of such achievements was Western civilization founded as the churches of Asia and Africa were overrun and extinguished. The act of remembering these achievements and forging new achievements is how civilization is preserved and savagery kept at bay. The authors of Beowulf and Middle-earth knew well the salvific importance of memory and epic.

    On February 3 of each year may the Four Chaplains remind us of the most glorious epic of all.

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  8. Docent says:

    Not sure my e-mail went through, so…:

    Greetings, Fr Z:

    If you are not already familiar with it, check out the Chess24 website at chess24.com. You can play (anonymously if you choose) against people or the computer engine online (various levels, time controls, etc.), and you can do so for free if you choose to not sign up for various options provided to premium members.

    The site also provides free coverage of tournaments throughout the world (many live), and in a few weeks it will also provide live coverage and commentary on the World Chess Championship.

    All the Best and God Bless!

    P.S. Too bad most US Bishops aren’t as aggressive as the bishops are in chess. :-)

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