Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Strange Outbreak of Giant Chess Pieces in Lisbon!

Portugal is not famous as a chess nation, but while casually strolling around Lisbon recently, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a series of giant chess pieces. Clearly the Portuguese' love for our game goes much deeper than anyone realised.

First up, was this splendid King. Not strictly in Lisbon, but only a short train ride away in the seaside resort of Cascais, where lurking in front of the inevitable Irish pub is this fine statue of Dom Pedro IV of Portugal, who confusingly was also Dom Pedro I of Brazil, giving us two kings for the price of one.

Not a man who would take kindly to being checkmated, I think!
Rather more dramatic, though, was this splendid pair of knights, seemingly leaping forwards onto strong outposts. They can be found in the gardens along the northern bank of the Tagus, opposite the Jeronimos Monastery in the Lisbon suburb of Belem.

Let's construct a mating net!
A couple of mighty horses like this could surely only have been inspired by the pair in the following game who, with plenty of help from the world's strongest player at the time, weaved a beautiful mating net.

And finally we finish with the most famous and beautiful of them all, the exquisite Torre de Belem, which is located just a couple of knight hops westwards from the statue of the two knights. This must surely be the world's finest ever Rook. I can well imagine it giving a back rank mate or two in its time.

All rook and pawn endings would definitely be drawn if the defender had a rook like this!
Now, in such a religious country as Portugal, you'd think I could have found a suitable Bishop or two wouldn't you? And for every Dom Pedro, there was always a Queen to keep him company. But clearly I wasn't paying enough attention at the crucial times, so I'm afraid that the collection ends there. Of course, I could put in some pawn pictures, but this is simply not that kind of blog!!

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