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The King, A Royal Leader


Throughout the history of chess, which is believed to have started in 6th century India as a game called chaturanga, the game has always been about the well being of the king. Purpose of the game is to capture the enemy king. Chess is often considered a “royal” game: a game of kings and queens.

The role of the king in a chess army is manifest. He starts out in the middle of his own forces, safely protected but able to oversee the battlefield because he is the biggest chessman of all. In the beginning and middle phase of the game, he is vulnerable and often seeks shelter in a corner of the board where it is relatively safe. But as the game progresses into the end phase, and both battling forces have thinned out, he will take responsibility as leader, as general, and will personally try to lead his army to victory.

The king is not a quick chessman, moving only one square per move. He doesn't have to be. Once it is his time to take part in the battle, he does not run, he does not stumble, and he does not trip. No, he strides over the board in a majestic pace, making his power felt wherever it is needed and giving strength to his troops.

The importance of the king in a chess set is reflected by his size and appearance. While he is the biggest of them all, standard modern chess sets will also have him wear a crown. In earlier, pre-standard chess sets, as well as in modern limited edition chess sets, the king is the piece that is the most decorated with ornaments and expensive details. The king, together with his queen, represent the richness of royalty as it has ruled countless parts of the earth for centuries.

One of the most imaginative kings in history is no doubt King Arthur, the legendary King of Britain. The mythical stories about this king of kings were the inspiration for two of our chess sets: the “King Arthur” set and the “Sir Lancelot” set.

Actually, King Arthur never really existed. There was a British general named Arthur who led the people of Britain in a 6th century war against German invaders. But he was not a king and all the myths and legends about King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot originated centuries later.Since chess is a "royal" game, it seems only logical that king and queen start out a chess game side by side, right in the center of their army. But where the king will hide in a corner, at least in the earlier phases of the game, the queen is ready to come out right away and create havoc and destruction in the enemy forces.

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