Yorkshire Chess Association





ChessFest, Trafalgar Square

Sunday, 18/07/2021


Chess in Communities and Schools has organised a 3-day “ChessFest” taking place at various locations in London over the period 16th to 18th July, 2021, culminating in a day of chess activity of various kinds in Trafalgar Square on the 18th.


This coincides with the 150th anniversary year of the publication of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, by the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, usually known in this context by his nom de plume Lewis Carroll.  (It also coincides with the 170th anniversary of “The Immortal Game”: Adolf Anderssen v Lionel Kieseritzky, played on 21/06/1851 in the fringes of the London International Tournament of 1851).


The significance of the convenient anniversary is of course that the book used chess as an underlying theme (whereas Alice in Wonderland used playing cards as a theme).  Characters include the White Queen, the Red (i.e. black) Queen and the tumble-down White Knight.  Alice herself is a white pawn, ultimately reaching the eighth rank and becoming a queen herself.


More information on the “ChessFest” can be found on the website, https://www.chess-fest.com, which pleasingly borrows some of John Tenniel’s original illustrations in the book.  Later reprints and adaptions have used more-modern illustrations, but none surpass those of Tenniel.


Owners of a first-edition copy may notice that the publication year was printed in the book itself as 1872.  Obviously, such a printed date is necessarily a pre-publication forecast, and the actual publication date turned out to be 27/12/1871, five days early!


If you happen not to be in London on 18th July, then you could do worse than grab a copy of Through the Looking Glass . . . and expand your mind by reading the poem Jabberwocky, which has seven verses, the first and last of which read as follows:


’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.


Don’t worry; Humpty Dumpty explains the more-difficult words (much later, in Chapter 6).


The intervening five verses describe how the unnamed hero of the poem, armed with his vorpal sword, locates and kills his manxome foe, i. e. the Jabberwock:



Tenniel’s illustration of the Jabberwock featuring in Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky