is a descendant of a game believed to have originated in India in the 6th century, called
Chaturanga, itself may have been related to a much older Chinese game. Writings about this
oldest form of Chess was found around 600 A.D.
Chaturanga is a
Sanskrit word referring to the four arms of the old Indian army; elephants, cavalry,
chariots and infantry, from which come the four types of pieces in that game. Checkmate
comes from the ancient Persian word shah mat, meaning the King is helpless
eastward to China and then through Korea to Japan. It appeared in Persia after the Islamic
conquest (638-651) where it was first called Chatrang, and then Shatranj which is the
Arabic form of the word. The spread of Islam to Sicily and the invasion of Spain by the
Moors brought Shatranj to Western Europe and reached Russia through trade routes from
several directions. By the end of the 10th century, the game was well known throughout
Europe and had attracted serious interest of kings, philosophers and even poets.
It is at this
point in the history of Chess that we see the changes that brings it into our modern era.
From the early part of the second millenia to the end of the 15th century, many key notes
take place in the shaping of the modern game of Chess.
pastime in Chess that became popular in the 12th and 13th century was puzzle solving, in
which the solver has to find a solution, for example, such as a forced checkmate in a
given number of moves. Overall, strategies have become more refined in this era as
knowledge of how to play at higher levels is past down and built upon.
through great popularity and the refinement of players strategies, some of the rules of
the game were modified to increase the complexity of the game and create a greater
maneuverability for opponents to explore a wider range of strategic option. The most
notable changes turned the Fers, a weak piece in Shatranj, into the Queen, the strongest
piece in Chess, and the Alfil, which moved in two square steps, into the far-ranging Chess
Towards the end of
the 15th century, modern Chess became complete with promoting Pawns upon reaching the
eighth and last rank, Castling in which a player could more quickly defend their King, and
the implementation of Pawn Enpassant Capturing which signified the increased power of the
Pawn to move two squares forward on the first move.
The new game
achieved popularity all over Europe and by the 16th century, the best players were
recording their games and theories in widely circulated books of Chess instruction.
The 18th century
French player Francois-Andre Danican Philidor, was the leading player of his time and a
renowned composer. In 1749 Philidor published one of the most influential theoretical
works in Chess history, the book "Analysis of the Game of Chess". Philidor was
the first to analyze many of the main strategic elements of Chess and to recognize the
importance of proper Pawn play.
In 1843, english
player Howard Staunton decisively defeated the leading French player, Pierre Charles de
Saint-Amant, placing Staunton as the world's foremost chess figure in the mid 19th
century. Staunton wrote several important theoretical works on Chess and also commissioned
the first new design for the Chess pieces that remains to this day, by which they are
named "Staunton Chessmen". He also organized the first international Chess
tournament, held in London in 1851.
Since that time,
Chess has continued to gain even more popularity and has arguably become the greatest
strategy game ever.