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    Aug 15

    Written by: Michael Dalby 8/15/2008 8:44 AM 

    Turkish chess manuscripts textThe Cleveland Public Library John G. White Collection has a number of notable Turkish Chess manuscripts, including a seven volume set annotated with notes by the chess historian, Harold James Ruthven Murray.  This work, written in ca. 1564, includes typed assessments by Murray which were pasted into the volumes.  The notes themselves appeared in the British chess magazine, May 1915 (p. 158).  Mr. Murray, the eldest of eleven children, was the son of James Murray, who was the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.  In 1913 H. J. R. Murray published his most significant work, A History of Chess, proposing the theory that chess originated in India. This theory remains the most widely accepted theory explaining the origins of chess. 

    In his History of Chess, Murray states, "With the fall of Constantinople (1453) and the last outposts of the independent Christianity in Asia Minor (1461), the last vestiges of the Byzantine Empire passed away, and the Greeks became a subject race and largely adopted the language of their conquerors .  The game of zatrikion, whatever points and special rules it may have possessed, must be held to have become obsolete, and its very name soon passed into oblivion. Whatever chess was played would assuredly be the Turkish chess of the ruling race." (p. 168)  (Zatrikion is the Greek board game which appeard in Byzantine Greek around the 7th century.  Nicephorus, Byzantine emperor from 802  to 811, mentioned chess (zatrikion) in his writings). Murray also published two other works A History of Board Games Other Than Chess and A Short History of Chess.  To view these volumes or other Turkish Chess manuscripts visit the John G. White Special Collections Department on the 3rd Floor of the Main Library.   

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