Living Chess Game

Living Chess Game (La Partita a Scácchi Viventi)

Second weekend in September in even-numbered years
Every two years the main piazza in Marostica, Italy, is transformed into a giant chessboard. More than 500 townspeople wearing elaborate medieval costumes portray chessmen and act out a living game: knights in shining armor ride real horses, castles roll by on wheels, and black and white queens and kings march from square to square to meet their destinies. Thousands of spectators watch from bleachers, cheering loudly when a castle is lost and moaning when there is an impending checkmate. The local players begin rehearsing in March for the two-and-a-half hour performances. Some start out as pawns and over the years work their way up to become knights, kings, and queens.
The basis for the game is an incident that took place in 1454, when Lionora, the daughter of the lord of the castle, was being courted by two rivals. They challenged each other to a deadly duel but were persuaded to engage in a game of chess instead. Even today, the moves in the game are spoken in an ancient dialect, including the final scácco matto! (checkmate).
Pro Marostica
P.zza Castello 1, Marostica
Vicenza, 36063 Italy
39-424-7212-7; fax: 39-424-7280-0
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The living chess game; fine arts activities for kids 9-14.
This sustained narrative of sublimated eroticism is enhanced when both men participate in a living chess game that the city ritualistically stages every ten years--the game itself is ringed with anxiety as the players are armed even as the moves foretell horrific violence.
Maybe we should have cheered and perhaps some did, when those whom the stockbroker has manoeuvred and manipulated finally turned on their evil grandmaster, the man who had so contemptuously used them as pawns to his king in this living chess game.