Oct 072011
One of the 40 or so chess boards on each
 Grand Central train

On the way back from London to Halifax aboard a Grand Central train last Sunday night I was pleased to see that all the table tops had chess boards printed on them. “A great idea,” I thought, “to help bored travellers while away the interminable delays: a nice game of chess”. Then I looked more closely and laughed out loud. The boards were printed the wrong way round thus rendering them completely useless — unless you like playing at a 90° angle. Hilarious!

It wasn’t all that long ago that John Kerrane told me he’d had a similar problem with boards printed on table tops at a school he teaches chess at. It’s ironic isn’t it that when an organisation spends a little money on creating facilities for our great game they fail so miserably with the practicalities of getting the board the right way round.

Over at the “Chess Curiosities” website this was a favourite subject of Tim Krabbé who collected many instances of the work of a group he conspiratorially called the “dark-right-hand-corner-square-mafia”. See “Open Chess Diary” entries 259, 83, 51 and 30 for many more tragic-comic tales of chess boards displayed incorrectly. Perhaps we should revert back to the board that was used for “Shatranj”, the precursor to our modern game, in the Middle-East, which had no coloured squares on it at all.

  5 Responses to “Notice anything?”

  1. In the picture shown, set up the black pieces with h1 as a black square, and let black move first as if they were white. Problem solved.

  2. I mean, set up the black pieces as if they were white. With the black king on e1 but a1 = light square and h1 = black square, with black to move first.

  3. I fear Gorney that your own confusion over the best way to handle this erroneous board coordination merely highlights the nature of the challenge! 🙂

  4. I'm glad someone else objects to this want of care. It no longer surprises me how frequently, when you see a chess board set up in a film, etc., the producer hasn't bothered to get it the right way round.

    I wonder whether they'd view so carelessly a soccer match, say, using hockey goals.

  5. I'm with you all the way on that one Pete!

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