24 March 2011

Political Chess

No, I'm not talking about chess politics as in USCF Members Beware, Be Aware!. And I'm not talking about the sort of global politics where you hear that some confrontation between two nations is a 'real chess game' or that one side is playing chess while the other side is playing checkers. I'm talking instead about the sort of chess set that sometimes pops up in Top eBay Chess Items by Price.

For this latest edition of the series on uncommon chess items, I chose an item titled 'NORTHERN IRELAND CHESS SET - RUC IRA Sinn Fein Belfast', pictured below. It sold 'Buy It Now' for GBP 379.95, which eBay converted to US$ 617.23.


The description said

NORTHERN IRELAND POLITICAL CHESS SET by World Renowned Belfast Sculptor Anto Brennan: Landmark work from the Belfast based sculptor. Hand cast and hand painted to order by Gerard Brennan (also a professional artist), this well known work is offered as an online exclusive to Celtic Craft Works. The character models measure 4" - 5" in height and the pawns 2" each. The map of Ireland playing board (22" x 22") comes as an unframed graphic, of the finest quality, which the purchaser can have framed to their specification on receipt of their set. The set, although humourous, demonstrates not only the artists skill but also a typical Belfast outlook towards our dark past. The sides pitted against each other are Loyalist and British against Nationalist and Irish.

British: King - Tony Blair; Queen - Elizabeth II; Bishops - Robin Eames; Knights - Dr Ian Paisley & David Trimble; Rooks - David Irvine & Dr Mo Mowlam; Pawns - R.U.C.

Irish: King - Bertie Ahern; Queen - Mary McAleese; Bishops - Sean Brady; Knights - John Hume & Seamus Mallon; Rooks - Martin McGuiness & Gerry Adams; Pawns - I.R.A.

Note that there are no 'White pieces' or 'Black pieces', symbolism I understand. The British side also has nine Pawns, which I don't understand at all. There's a lot of modern history encapsulated in this set.

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