I bought this week’s book when I was 16 years old and read it while on a Russian language summer course at the University of East Anglia. It is one of the books which inspired me to become a Russian historian. What really excited me, though, wasn’t Robert Massie’s descriptions of Peter the Great, but rather Charles XII of Sweden taking on the entire Turkish army with just 100 men of his own, and galloping incognito all the way across Europe to get back home. What a guy!
In keeping with the theme of strategy, and as Russia has produced many of the world’s greatest chess masters, this week’s object is a chess set. It is set up to show the Charles XII chess problem. This situation supposedly occurred in a game between King Charles XII of Sweden and his minister Christian Albert Grosthusen, undertaken while Charles was besieged by the Ottoman Army at Bender in 1713, having fled there after his defeat at the hands of Peter the Great at Poltava in 1709.
Supposedly, on viewing the situation, Charles (playing white – blue in this set) told Grosthusen that it was mate in three moves.
Continue reading Friday object lesson #19: chess set