The White Knight

Chess Day

Jul 20

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"A chess game is divided into three stages: the first, when you hope you have the advantage, the second when you believe you have an advantage, and the third... when you know you're going to lose!" ~ Savielly Tartakower

The term "white knight", or its synonym "knight-errant" is a figure of medieval chivalric romance literature. A knight-errant typically performed all his deeds in the name of a lady, and invoked her name before performing an exploit.

The White Knight

Chess is one of the most ancient of games, invented in India in the fifth century.  July 20th celebrates the day the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was founded in 1924.  

The term "white knight", or its synonym "knight-errant" is a figure of medieval chivalric romance literature. The adjective errant (meaning "wandering, roving") indicates how the knight-errant would wander the land in search of adventures to prove his chivalric virtues, either in knightly duels (pas d'armes) or in some other pursuit of courtly love.

The template of the knight-errant are the heroes of the Round Table of the Arthurian cycle such as GawainLancelot and Percival.

A knight-errant typically performed all his deeds in the name of a lady, and invoked her name before performing an exploit.

The White Knight is also a character in Through the Looking Glass, the Lewis Carroll sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Whereas the first book has the deck of cards as a theme, this book is based on a game of chess, played on a giant chessboard with fields for squares. Most main characters in the story are represented by a chess piece or animals, with Alice herself being a pawn.

The looking-glass world is divided into sections by brooks or streams, with the crossing of each brook usually signifying a notable change in the scene and action of the story: the brooks represent the divisions between squares on the chessboard, and Alice's crossing of them signifies advancing of her piece one square.

Furthermore, since the brook-crossings do not always correspond to the beginning and ends of chapters, most editions of the book visually represent the crossings by breaking the text with several lines of asterisks ( * * * ). The sequence of moves (white and red) is not always followed.

The White Knight saves Alice from his opponent, the Red Knight. He repeatedly falls off his horse and lands on his head, and tells Alice of his inventions, which consists of things such as a pudding with ingredients like blotting paper, an upside down container, and anklets to guard his horse against shark bites.

For more on the chess motif and moves followed on the virtual chessboard represented in Through the Looking Glass, click on the picture of The White Knight, by John Tenniel in 1871.

The White Knight
The White Knight

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