Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rook: The Chariot of Chess

Often referred to as “castle” by the new players, the rook in chess is one of the two pieces whose name is not immediately obvious. It is easy to figure out what a queen, king, knight and bishop are, especially in terms of a medieval battle. But what about pawns and rooks? I start with the rook but it is the most elusive.

While it appears that the rook must be some sort of castle or fortress, the word actually originates from Persian chariots (or “rukhs”). These real-life warrior carts were designed to look like moving castles wrecking havoc on the battlefield.

Rooks owe their appearance to these Persian chariots, but they have also been named after actual towers. When the game of chess was brought to Italy, the Italians called them by the word “rocca,” meaning fortress.
I still like to call them castles, but that's mostly because I'm a newb.

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