Travel and Play

The history of chess is intimately related to travel. Dealers, historians, envoys, pilgrims and warriors carried chess sets with them and since the early middle ages contributed to the propagation of chess along their travel routes between Persia and Europe. In the 9th century AD, a musician called Ziriab brought chess from Baghdad to the Califat of Cordoba in Spain. His chessmen did not survive but most likely he played on a textile board that often also serves as pouch to keep the pieces as evidenced by muslim chess sets found later.

 

The history of chess is intimately related to travel. Dealers, historians, envoys, pilgrims and warriors carried chess sets with them and since the early middle ages contributed to the propagation of chess along their travel routes between Persia and Europe. In the 9th century AD, a musician called Ziriab brought chess from Baghdad to the Califat of Cordoba in Spain. His chessmen did not survive but most likely he played on a textile board that often also serves as pouch to keep the pieces as evidenced by muslim chess sets found later.

 

The English Orientalist and Ethymologist Thomas Hyde (1636-1703) travelled extensively in the 17th century through the Orient and recognised that chess came from the Persian-Arabic countries and not from Greece as had been assumed until then (Thomas Hyde “De Ludis Orientalibus”, Oxford, 1694). Chess sets which we can clearly identify as travel sets judging by their size and casing, are known since the 16th century. One of the oldest known examples is a gold plated brass games box in the shape of a book made in Augsburg, Germany, in 1560.

 

Ship captain cess set

Chess set that belonged to a ship captain who hang the set in his cabin with a swivelling support. The pieces are from Geislingen, Germany. Bone set, end of 18th century. The royal pieces are abstract from the Selenus type. Source: CCI Travel and Play, 2012. 

Travel Sets for more than one Game 

Game box from Augsburg, Germany, 1560, shaped like a book , brass gold plated, for chess and non men morris. The board is engraved surrounded by various statements related to luck and good fortune, in the middle we see the Goddes Fortuna. The box contains a mirror and compartments for the pieces. Source: CCI Travel and Play, 2012. 

Travel Sets for more than one Game 

Chess and checker board with flat button like pieces, USA. Becker’s Washington. 19th century. Source: CCI Travel and Play, 2012. 

Travel Sets for more than one Game 

Pegged set for chess, checkers and merciless in a cardboard case. The board has elongated slots where the pieces fit in. Source: CCI Travel and Play, 2012. 

Travel Sets for more than one Game 

Chess and merrily in a cardboard box. Europe, mid-19th century. The pieces are flat round discs. Source: CCI Travel and Play, 2012.