12th-century abstract rook and bishopThis fourth installment of our holiday chess series finishes off the back rank of pieces: the bishop (or alphyn), the knight, and the rook. We also explore a long-standing Wikipedia beef over rook terminology, and recommend a modern board game that plunges you into the paranoid world of zombie survival.

Today’s Text:


  • Eales, Richard. “Changing Cultures: The Reception of Chess into Western Europe in the Middle Ages.” Ancient Board Games in Perspective: Papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium, With Additional Contributions, edited by I.L. Finkel, British Museum Press, 2007, pp. 162-168.
  • Murray, H.J.R. A History of Chess. Clarendon Press, 1913.

Image: Abstract 12th-century rook (left) and bishop/al-fin (right) from Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World Auction (20 April 2016), Lot 101.


Sources for embedded chapter images:

  • Early bishops, knight, and rook: Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World Auction (20 April 2016), Lots 100 and 101. http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2016/arts-islamic-world-l16220.html
  • Later bishop: http://ancientchess.com/page/play-courier-chess.htm & https://www.zafiyashop.xyz/vintage-chess-c-1_204_205_298/antique-vintage-wooden-st-george-black-bishop-chess-piece-spare-p-3500.html
  • Later bishop/rook comparison: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41694919?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
  • Dowel pieces: http://www.chess-museum.com/regency-chess-sets.html
  • Staunton pieces: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staunton_chess_set#/media/File:JaquesCookStaunton.jpg