Chess By Blog Plugin for WordPress

WordPressChess By Blog is a plugin for WordPress that — surprise — adds a number of chess-related features to WordPress. According to the developer’s list of features, that includes,

  • PGN (Portable Game Notation) inserted into your post body will be displayed as a graphical board, inline in the browser. The client side code was written using the Google Web Toolkit (GWT), resulting in Javascript (no Java required) that has been tested in Internet Explorer 6 and 7, Mozilla/Firefox, and Safari. The graphical look of the chessboard is controlled by themes, and can be easily controlled in the management panel for the plugin.
  • The board supports interactive play directly in the browser, in a mode which does not update the post body. All rules of chess are supported, include en passant, castling, and pawn promotion. This can be used to present chess problems for readers to work through.
  • Chess By Blog also supports a persistent game played between two players, hence the name of the plugin. Readers that have edit permissions on a post can take turns moving pieces, with the state of the board saving to the WordPress database between moves. The plugin uses WordPress and PHP security features to ensure that only moves that come from the client chessboard code can update the database.

The plugin is regularly updated and the developer notes it has been tested and works with WordPress 2.6.

Chess A Muslim Invention?

This article describes a British exhibition — supported by the UK government — that highlights 1,001 Muslim inventions from the 6th through the 16th centuries. The problem is that it includes inventions that do not appear to be Muslim in origin.

For example, the exhibit apparently describes chess as a Muslim invention, which is a bit of a stretch. Chess traces its origins back to a game called Chaturanga. Written references to Chaturanga go back to 500 BC, though how close that game was to chess is debatable. But references to a chess-like Chaturanga clearly emerges in the first few centuries of the first millenia AD which, the last time I checked, is pre-Islamic.

As one commentator notes it is also a bit ironic to attribute the invention of chess to Muslims given that chess has been viewed unfavorably by Muslim literalists. For example, Ayatollah Sistani writes of chess,

Question : Why is chess forbidden?

Answer : It is not permissible, because it is a means for Lahv (debauchery) and gambling. Many traditions have been reported from the Holy Prophet and the Imams (a.s.) that prohibit playing chess. Moreover, when we do not know the reason behind the forbiddenness of an act, we are bound to obey in absolute obedience. There is a reason for it, but we do not know it and when we do not know it, it does not mean that we should not abide by it.

Who knew those high school chess clubs were a form of debauchery? Sure puts a new twist on the Queen’s Gambit.