Simon Parkin, “Return of the Chess Cheat”

“Accounts vary as to how exactly a chess game between King Canute the Great and one of his most trusted Viking chieftains, Earl Ulf, went down, in 1026, but certainly cheating was involved, and for at least one party the match proved fatal. In their 1851 book “The Chess Player,” the German chess masters Bernhard Horwitz and Josef Kling tell a version of the story in which the king made a “false move” and lost one of his knights. Canute “would not have this,” they write, and insisted that he be allowed a redo, at which suggestion Ullf “waxed angry” and overturned the board. (The match took place at a banquet; he may have been emboldened by mead.) Things escalated. The king accused Ulf of cowardice, prompting the earl to remind Canute of the assistance he had rendered him at Helge River, when, he gibed, “the Swedes beat you like a dog.” Ulf turned on his heel and retired for the night. It was to be his last: Canute had him killed in church the next day.”

From The New Yorker, 4/17/15

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