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Chess match with live pieces in Banská Bystrica square won by Hungarians

Knights’ duels, fire from muskets and cannons, medieval songs, and in particular a live chess match with pieces in period clothing dominated Banská Bystrica’s SNP Square on July 5.

Chess figurines parade through the main square in Banská Bystrica.  Chess figurines parade through the main square in Banská Bystrica. (Source: TASR)

Knights’ duels, fire from muskets and cannons, medieval songs, and in particular a live chess match with pieces in period clothing dominated Banská Bystrica’s SNP Square on July 5.

A prestigious chess game between the city and the Hungarian town of Visegrád was won by the southern neighbours, but the result was not the crucial thing, the ČTK newswire was told by organiser Peter Danáš.

On what was probably Slovakia’s biggest chess-board – 13 by 13 metres – live figurines from a Visegrád historical ensemble fought for victory; in subsequent games Slovak actors played. The audience could also watch live chess with a script set in advance, in which, for instance, Banská Bystrica’s mayor played against the Turkish governor of the Fiľakovo sandjak. “This game of 20 moves, with a pre-set outcome, is purely a scripted staging,” Danáš noted.

Several hundred people appraised the performance of individual figurines during moves. After each piece was ‘taken’, a duel or a shooting followed, and subsequently the figurine was escorted form the chess-board by two armigers. The history of live chess in Europe dates back to the eighth century, when the Frankish majordomo Charles Martel reportedly used to play it. Currently, these performances are probably most popular in southern European countries, in particular Italy, France, and Spain.

Visitors to Banská Bystrica were able to enjoy the art and costumes of more than two hundred performers from six countries: Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, and Russia.

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