Born in India and arrived in Europe through the Persians and the Arabs, the game of chess has conquered the throne of the prince of games in the world: like no other it proves the intelligence, imagination, audacity and honesty of the player.
The history of this discipline is very long and studded with eminent anecdotes: it marks the centuries of politics – from the arrival as a gift to Charlemagne of the first chessboard from Caliph Harun al-Rashid to the shoulder that the American Fischer gave to the Iron Curtain in ’72 beating the Soviet champion Spassky; it turns out to be the key to science’s transition from intuition to calculation – from the brilliant school of Anderssen and Morphy to Kasparov beating the Deep Blue supercomputer; tells the importance of the chess player (that is, man) in his goals – from the psychologist Lasker, to the linear and solid Capablanca, to the impetuous Alechin.
It may not be of interest to the game, it may be boring or not in one’s own strings: but the influence it exerts on thought and therefore on language in our culture is powerful, and has been for centuries.
In our case, giving check, putting in check is the expression of a direct, powerful, threatening attack – as perhaps only those who find themselves with the open king can grasp – and at the same time triumphant, victorious – as perhaps only those who anticipate the checkmate know to be.
In short, a word of sublime nobility.