Chess history trivia

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
David Robertson
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by David Robertson » Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:48 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:12 am
...which includes such vital and useful words as καλλισφυροϛ (kallisphuros) "beautifully-ankled" ...used in the Iliad Book 9 line 560 and the Odyssey book 5 line 333
I strongly recommend you cut 'n paste καλλισφυροϛ (as given by Michael above), and pop it into Google Translate. Google has a rather different opinion of the meaning of the term.

Incidentally, καλή (kali) continues to mean 'good ' in modern Greek: eg. καλή μέρα (kalimera) means 'good morning'. But unless Liddell & Scott are guilty as charged by Google, the term σφυρος now means 'hammer', not 'ankle'

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by Michael Farthing » Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:59 pm

Nice one David, butl we all know that Google Translate is a load of .... :)

My (not very comprehensive) Modern Greek dictionary gives σφυρα as both a feminine word for hammer and neuter plural for ankles (distinguishable by a difference in where the stress is). Rather puzzlingly it does not list the singular form for ankle, that would be σφυρο(ν) [the final ν (n) is now frequently dropped in modern Greek]. I suspect the ankle meaning might now be obsolete. Both meanings exist in Ancient Greek: again ankle is neuter and hammer is feminine (with appropriate change of ending). The "beautiful-ankled" word that was the subject of discussion is, of course, an adjective with the definition based on the masculine form.

[PS That Google has a different spelling is not that significant. There is a lot of regional variation in modern Greek].

Tim Harding
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by Tim Harding » Sat Dec 07, 2019 8:07 pm

Gerard Killoran wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:45 pm
Which top player once said, "chess history was nothing but fiction. and was not of any practical utility."?
Nigel Short?
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Colin Purdon
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by Colin Purdon » Sun Dec 08, 2019 12:59 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:59 pm
My (not very comprehensive) Modern Greek dictionary gives σφυρα as both a feminine word for hammer and neuter plural for ankles (distinguishable by a difference in where the stress is). Rather puzzlingly it does not list the singular form for ankle, that would be σφυρο(ν) [the final ν (n) is now frequently dropped in modern Greek].
FWIW my also not comprehensive modern Greek-English dictionary, published 1978, does give σφυρον (with accent on the second syllable, which I am too lazy to include) as a meaning for ankle. If you put it into google images, then you get a mixture of hammers and ankles appearing.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by Michael Farthing » Sun Dec 08, 2019 2:33 pm

Colin Purdon wrote:
Sun Dec 08, 2019 12:59 pm
FWIW my also not comprehensive modern Greek-English dictionary, published 1978, does give σφυρον (with accent on the second syllable, which I am too lazy to include) as a meaning for ankle. If you put it into google images, then you get a mixture of hammers and ankles appearing.
That's interesting - in 1978 the Greeks were still in the final days of the demotic v katharevousa issue (basically whether to use the ordinary everyday modern Greek or to try and "clean" it back to the proper Greek of old). The attempt was officially abandonned in 1976, but still lingered in places (often as rather pompous shop names) when I first went to Greece in 1988.

I've come across another vocabulary book which gives the Greek for ankle as αστραγαλος (which at first sight looks as if it should mean Milky Way) with no alternatives. Slightly supports my guess that σφυρον is a deprecated Katharevousa word.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by Gerard Killoran » Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:35 am

Tim Harding wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 8:07 pm
Gerard Killoran wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:45 pm
Which top player once said, "chess history was nothing but fiction. and was not of any practical utility."?
Nigel Short?
I'm afraid not. The answer will disappoint you.

John Townsend
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by John Townsend » Mon Dec 09, 2019 12:26 pm

Steinitz?

Colin Purdon
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by Colin Purdon » Mon Dec 09, 2019 12:29 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:
Sun Dec 08, 2019 2:33 pm
That's interesting - in 1978 the Greeks were still in the final days of the demotic v katharevousa issue (basically whether to use the ordinary everyday modern Greek or to try and "clean" it back to the proper Greek of old). The attempt was officially abandonned in 1976, but still lingered in places (often as rather pompous shop names) when I first went to Greece in 1988.

I've come across another vocabulary book which gives the Greek for ankle as αστραγαλος (which at first sight looks as if it should mean Milky Way) with no alternatives. Slightly supports my guess that σφυρον is a deprecated Katharevousa word.
My dictionary gives αστραγαλος as the first entry for ankle and σφυρον as the second. Your take on katharevousa could well be right, though I wonder if it could simply be that when you have two words for the same thing in any language, then one of them will probably get sidelined eventually.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by Gerard Killoran » Mon Dec 09, 2019 3:10 pm

John Townsend wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 12:26 pm
Steinitz?
Closer than Short, but no.

Mike Truran
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by Mike Truran » Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:18 pm

Per my 1855 edition of Liddell and Scott:

"καλλισφυροϛ, beautiful-ankled, of women". No mention of hammers, I'm afraid.

"σφυρον, the ankle". (neuter noun)

"σφυρα, a hammer". (feminine noun)

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John Clarke
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by John Clarke » Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:53 pm

Gerard Killoran wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:45 pm
Which top player once said, "chess history was nothing but fiction. and was not of any practical utility."?
Staunton? The phrase "practical utility" has something of old Howard's pomposity about it. (Why not simply say "practical use"?)
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by Gerard Killoran » Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:38 pm

John Clarke wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:53 pm
Gerard Killoran wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:45 pm
Which top player once said, "chess history was nothing but fiction. and was not of any practical utility."?
Staunton? The phrase "practical utility" has something of old Howard's pomposity about it. (Why not simply say "practical use"?)
Not Staunton either.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by Gerard Killoran » Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:33 pm

From Jackson's Oxford Journal November 22, 1911.

Just look who was the Henry Ford of chess history...

Jackson's Oxford Journal November 22, 1911.png
Jackson's Oxford Journal November 22, 1911.png (331.5 KiB) Viewed 638 times

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JustinHorton
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by JustinHorton » Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:43 pm

Oh, how interesting, I always thought misnomer was an American term.
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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Chess history trivia

Post by Gerard Killoran » Wed Dec 11, 2019 10:35 am

JustinHorton wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:43 pm
Oh, how interesting, I always thought misnomer was an American term.
Here's an early example from Saunders's News-Letter, Thursday 14 January 1779 - and a joke which is still funny!

Saunders's News-Letter - Thursday 14 January 1779.png
Saunders's News-Letter - Thursday 14 January 1779.png (212.29 KiB) Viewed 594 times

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