Thursday, June 30, 2022 10:37

Chess in Ye Olde Days?

I’ve had a three day weekend, using the last of my personal time off days until December (when I get some extra time because it will be my five-year anniversary at work.)  Mrs. LV and I went to Springfield, the state capitol of Illinois by Amtrak.  (My first actual train ride!)

Among other fun things like visiting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Illinois State Museum, we also spent some time at the Old Capitol Building.   (The rest of the post, including the Chess bit, is a bit pic-heavy, so behind the cut…)

Actually, the Old Capitol is the fifth building to be the Illinois State Capitol.  It was active in the early to mid 1800s.  Abraham Lincoln was one of those who pushed for the move of the capitol to Springfield.

The Old Capitol Building

The building, after having been sold to Sangamon County and used as a courthouse, was restored as a monument.  They re-did the interiors to period.  If you wait around long enough, it is almost as if you could see Lincoln himself standing before the Illinois House of Representatives….

Lincoln At the Chair... Or real close!

(No, not a wax figure….  An actual person – I shook his hand!)

OK, so we’re looking at the various rooms….  Public instruction, Governor’s Office, house chambers, Supreme Court room, and we come to the State Library.  I look in…

Library room of the Old Capitol

then I look to the left…

Another view of the State Library (Old Capitol)


Chess in ye olde State Capitol!

Doesn’t look like an antique (actually it looks like a very inexpensive modern wood set,) but I’m not going to complain!  The Staunton pattern was patented in 1849, so it’s not inconceivable to have it there.  (Could just as easily have been a St. George pattern set.)  I would have given quite a bit to sneak past the rope line and see if I could’ve talked Abe into a game.  ;)

What I missed, because my battery died, was that the Adjutant’s office had an antique field desk that also had a checkerboard pattern on the writing surface on the folding lid.

The rest of the day was fun, too.  During tea time at the Lincoln Presidential Museum I found myself in a heated debate as to whether it’s better to try the Najdorf, Dragon, or try for the Schevenigen in the Sicilian.

Tea with the Generals

OK, only kidding – these actually are wax figures.  And if I were actually talking about chess in that period, we’d probably be having a discussion about what we now know is the Evans Gambit and how it always seems to turn to disaster for me.

But if you’re ever in the Springfield area, do take some time to check out all the Lincoln-mania that you can take in.  It’s very worth it!  And then, if it’s a Wednesday or Friday, head over to the Springfield Chess Club and tell them LV – or Abe – sent you!  (Sadly, I had to catch the train home and couldn’t visit.  :( )  But in the meantime

Enjoy your Chess!

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