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  • The Human Chess Game

    by Anthony Parente

    In 1454 in the small town of Marostica, which is located in the province of Vicenza, a game of chess was performed between two noble knights. This was no ordinary game of chess. The game was performed in the town's main square, which was paved to resemble a giant checkerboard. Each knight had people dressed to represent the various chess pieces and they carried a white or black ensign.

    The human chess game was the idea of Taddeo Parisio the Lord of the Marostica castle. He did this because Rinaldo D'Angarano and Vieri da Vallonara, the two knights, where in love with his beautiful daughter Lionora and they had challenged each other to a duel for Lionora's hand in marriage. Parisio did not want to lose either of the knights, so he forbade any duel to take place. Instead he ordered the knights to play a game of chess in the town square using people as the chess pieces. Each knight would call out their move and the people would move according to the instructions of each knight. The winner of the chess match would have the honor of taking Lionora's hand in marriage while the loser would marry Lionora's younger sister Oldrada. To complicate things more Lionora was secretly in love with one of the two knights. Would the knight of her dreams prevail in this match? As fate would have it Vieri, Lionora's secret love, won the match.

    To commemorate this historic event the people of Marostica recreate this human chess match every even numbered year. The event takes place on the second weekend of September and it involves over 550 characters and last two hours. To learn more about this historic game you can visit the Marostica Chess Game site, which includes a live Web cam that overlooks the square.


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