This is a variation on an old legend as found in an old fairy tale book I had as a child. Since that book was given away years ago, I am retelling it from memory (with a little of my own embellishment). For tradition's sake, then . . .

Once upon a time. . .

. . .there was a King who had a beautiful Queen and a young son named Gav. When the King died, his brother was proclaimed the successor. The new King fell in love with the widow and came to marry her. As a result, a son named Talend was born.

When the second King died some time later, the court quickly fell to wondering which half-brother would succeed.

"It will be Gav," said some, "because he is the elder." But others said, "It will be Talend, since his father was our last King."

The Queen, who had the burden of choice, couldn't bear to let either son down since she loved both equally well. When asked to decide, she would always find away to put the moment off a little longer. Eventually, the years passed and the boys grew into men.

The brothers grew distant and began to avoid one another. Each developed a sharply divided set of friends and supporters throughout the court. As the two sides grew more prominent and aggressive, the ministers began to worry and appealed to the Queen to make up her mind. And yet she could not bring herself to it.

The kingdom gradually drifted into a civil war -- neither prince saw eye to eye, neither wanted to give up the throne, and neither would step down for the other. The provinces also began to choose sides, with battalions swearing allegiance to one or the other. If one prince ever encountered the other, there would only be cold stares and vows of war. Each swelling army built up an equally imposing store of weapons, money, horses, and elephants (which carried the archers up high on a turret). Gav's army began to march against Talend's, and the world held its breath.

The battle was a massacre for the foot soldiers, horsemen, standard bearers and elephant-bound archers. It lasted for a long time, until Gav's troops were overcome and Talend found only a few soldiers around to defend him. Quickly, he was surrounded on all sides by the turreted elephants as they advanced on him slowly. Not a single arrow was shot.

However, in the panic of searching for escape, Talend's fragile heart failed. He collapsed suddenly, and fell dead to the ground.

High in her tower, the Queen had been watching the battle with sorrow in her heart, knowing full well that she was, at that moment, losing one of her sons. But which one? It didn't matter. She loved both equally. When she saw that the dust had settled on the distant plain and that the cries of battle had died away, the Queen came down and rushed through the palace to meet those returning from the field. She stopped in her tracks.

Her son Gav, his clothes in tatters and splashed with blood, staggered sadly towards her

"Talend?" stammered the Queen. Gav shook his head,

"Oh, mother," he said, "My brother is dead."

"Dead? Did you kill him?"

"Oh no, mother!" exclaimed Gav, "I would never have done such a thing!"

"But you ordered his death!" exclaimed the Queen. The young man then knelt before her and, taking the hem of her dress in hand, said,

"Mother, I swear nobody was responsible for my brother's death. He died, but not violently."

"I shall never believe that," wept the Queen. But Gav said,

"I shall prove it."

He then thought of a way to show his mother how the battle had been fought. First of all, he asked a carpenter to make him a flat board. Then to mark the positions and manoeuvres of the two armies, the board was divided into white and black squares. A wood carver made him a miniature army of foot soldiers, a king, standard bearers, knights and towers, to take the place of of the elephants and their turrets. When everything was ready, Gav called the Queen and, moving one piece at a time, acted out the various stages of the battle.

"He was surrounded," Gav explained, "But I would never have had him killed, mother. It was his heart that gave out. My brother realised he had lost, and so he died."

"I understand, son," the Queen replied achingly, "But I wonder why, in a battle, one must win and the other lose . . . "

So the poor Queen kept asking herself the same question. She would sit all day long beside the little battlefield moving the pieces, foot soldiers, standard bearers and towers, always trying to save her "Talend."

One day, they found Queen dead on the board. That is how chess originated. Nowadays it is a peaceful contest meant for amusement, but once it caused a mother sadness and grief.