or How the Knight Learned to Jump
In times long past when the world was still young but the northern gods had grown weary, Loki the Trickster invented chess.
Except for the knight the moves were the same as those of modern pieces. The knight could move either horizontally or vertically around the board but its range was limited to two squares. It had little more power than the humble pawn.
Those early games in Odin's Hall were long, drawn-out affairs. Only the daily journey of Sol and her fiery chariot could be used to mark the passage of time. Although such protracted games suited Odin the Wise, his son Thor was more restless. When he became impatient he hurled thunderbolts at his opponents to force them to move. Odin called such play "lightning chess" and predicted that it would never be popular.
As the Age of Aries gave way to that of Pisces, followers of an itinerant Mediterranean Carpenter brought their gospel to the northern lands. People flocked to the new religion and the Old Ones realised that their influence had waned. They took consolation in Loki's new game and became even less involved in the affairs of humankind.
Loki, ever scheming, saw that the balance of power had changed. It now lay with the Galilean and had been brought to the cold lands by that rotund, white-bearded, red-coated evangelist, St. Christopher. Loki allied himself with Chris and his Triumvirate, and although his name remained Loki in the north, the rest of the world came to know him as the Devil.
Anxious to curry favour with his new masters Loki challenged Odin to a game of chess with Valhalla as the prize.
As they set up the pieces Loki granted the Knight new powers. Like Loki himself the piece had become a thing of mischief—it could now zigzag around the board by leaping two squares forward and one to the side, or one forward and two to the side.
To his ruin Odin disdained the Knight's newfound mobility believing it to be of little consequence, and the two settled down to play. Loki drew the white pieces and opted for advantage with 1. e4; Odin naturally played d5—the Scandinavian Defence.
To play through the game that brought about Die Götterdämmerung CLICK HERE.
Odin neglected his development and lost a piece to 13. Bxb7 and 14. Bxa6. He played 14 ...d5 offering a pawn for a discovered attack on white's bishop. Believing Loki's 15. Nxd5 to have been a blunder Odin snatched the bishop on a6, only to be greeted by contempt from his adversary. "Never miss a check, it might be mate," said Loki; and the knight, eager to flaunt its new powers, leapt to c7 finishing off the hapless king.
Thus Valhalla fell to the Master of Guile.
So it came to pass that a New Order was founded in the North and Valhalla faded into the realm of myth. But that chess game was never quite forgotten and every year on the birthday of the Galilean a celebration is held all over the world in remembrance of Loki's victory.
Merry Christmas to all and in the New Year may your knights lead the way to many victories.
In case you were wondering:
Die Götterdämmerung translates as "The Twilight of the Gods";
and the game was one of my Internet games—I'm happy to say I had Loki's pieces.
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