Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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Knights in Bottles

Every time I think I'm conveying an adequate level of brutality for a story set in the Middle Ages, I read about something absolutely terrible that happened that I simply wouldn't have thought of. For example, yesterday I was reading Joseph and Frances Gies' Life in a Medieval Castle and came across this;

In the First Crusade, when the Turks besieged the Crusaders in the castle of Xerigordo near Nicaea and cut off their water supply, the beleaguered Christians suffered terrific hardships, drinking their horses' blood and each other's urine, and burying themselves in damp earth in hope of absorbing the moisture. After eight days without water the Christians surrendered, and were killed or sold as slaves.

It always amazes me how people still have relatively idyllic impressions of the Middle Ages, but then, I suspect a lot of people in this country have no real grasp of how horrible things are for a lot of people in the world even now.

By the way, this is the chess game shown in the latest Venia's Travels on my cheap glass chess board;

The last move was the transparent rook to the square next to the opaque king. The tipped over pawn is a queen.

I played against myself using old rules, which are, according to Wikipedia;

In early chess the moves of the pieces were:

* King: as now.
* Queen: one square diagonally, only.
* Bishop:
o In the version that went into Persia: two squares diagonally (no more or less), but could jump over a piece between
o In a version sometimes found in India in former times: two squares sideways or front-and-back (no more or less), but could jump over a piece between.
o In versions found in Southeast Asia: one square diagonally, or one square forwards.
* Knight: as now.
* Rook: as now.
* Pawn: one square forwards (not two), capturing one square diagonally forward; promoted to queen only.

I went with the first of the three types of bishop, which made the piece a lot like the knight. All together, the main difference with the game was that it went a lot slower. Even after victory was sure for the transparent side, it took forever to get checkmate. One can see the newer rules simply streamlined the game.

I've been playing chess almost nightly lately, but I haven't won a game in weeks. Though about half the time I lose because of the timer running out. I simply don't understand the point of blitz games--to me, the whole point of chess is the two opponents pitting strategy against one another. If one person makes a wrong decision because of time pressure, to me that's like getting a diminished version of a game. I know, I've complained about this before, so it's probably sounding like sour grapes, which is pretty much the reason I continue to agree to playing with a timer.
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