The Renaissance expansion of possibility

Not: until about 1470 did chess begin its transformation from the slow Islamic form to the rapid-fire game we know today. Castling was introduced at this time, pawns gained the privilege of advancing two squares on their initial move, and the queen switched from being a waddling cripple (the Arabic vizier, allowed to move only one square at a time) to the most powerful piece on the board.

Recorded games of the time show all the exuberant naïveté of excited novices—the queen pursuing joyous adventures all over the board, giving check regardless of whether or not it offered the player any advantage. As chess is a game that symbolizes warfare, it is reasonable to suppose that the increased firepower of the queen reflected the introduction of field artillery in the late fifteenth century.

The sudden advance of chess as a whole must also have been a product of the Renaissance. An increasingly urgent perception of distance, space, and perspective distinguished human intellectual development. Parallel developments included the innovatory use of siege artillery to batter down the walls of Constantinople in 1453, scientific advances such as the telescope and the microscope, and the application of perspective in art.

The next country to exert decisive influence was Spain. After 1492 Spain rapidly became the dominant force in world communication, and the new form of chess spread across the world through her explorations and conquests. The conquistadores were keen players of a game that mirrored their combative lifestyle, and they taught it to the defeated Inca and Aztec kings in the New World.

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