History of chess

История шахмат

In the article “History of chess” we will tell a brief history of the origin and development of the logical game. You will learn interesting facts and features of this sport.

#Chess #ChessHistory #SportsHistory #PlayChess

No game has had such an impact on civilization as chess. Chess is an ancient board game that develops logical thinking and strategic planning, making it one of the most mentally stimulating games ever created on the planet.


For about a millennium and a half of its existence, chess has been known as a tool of military strategy, a metaphor for human relationships, and a benchmark of genius. Although the earliest records of chess date back to the 7th century, legend has it that the origins of the game lie centuries earlier, presumably when the youngest prince of the Gupta state was killed in battle, his brother devised a way to show the scene to his grieving mother.

Using an 8 by 8 board to play Ashtapada and other games popular at the time, a new game emerged with two key features: different rules for moving pieces on the board and a “King” piece whose fate determined the outcome of the fight.

The game was originally known as Chaturanga, which translated from Sanskrit means “four-piece” or “four kinds of troops” (infantry is the pawn, cavalry is the horse, bishops are the bishop, and the chariot is the rook).

Due to its spread in the Sassanid state (kingdom of Iranians, modern territory of Iraq and Iran), it acquired its current name and the definition of “chess” as a derivative of “Shah”, meaning King and “Shah mate”, meaning the King is helpless.

Chinese Xiangqi Chess
Chinese Xiangqi Chess

After the Arab conquest of Persia in the seventh century, chess came to the Arab world. In addition to their role as a tactical simulation, they eventually became a rich source for poetic imagery.

Diplomats and courtiers used chess terms to describe political processes. Ruling caliphs (the highest title among Muslims) became avid players themselves, and the famous Arab historian, geographer, and traveler Al-Masudi considered the game a testament to human free will as compared to gambling.

Medieval trade along the Silk Road contributed to the spread of the game in East and Southeast Asia, where its varieties appeared. In China, chess pieces were placed at the intersection of squares on the board, as in the strategic game of Go.

During the reign of the Turkic-Mongol conqueror Tamerlane, an 11 by 10 board with safe squares called Citadel appeared. It was in Europe that chess began to take its modern form.

Many philosophers and cultural figures saw chess as an allusion to medieval society with its class inequality. The Church generally saw no difference between chess and gambling, so European monarchs and priests quite often made attempts to ban the game. But even in strict times, everyone played.

On ingenuity and the art of playing chess
Book by Rui Lopez de Segura

In the 15th century, the rules of chess were finally established as we know them today. The weaker “Counselor” piece was replaced by the “Queen”, who was able to move in any direction, and the “Bishop” began to move diagonally.

These simple innovations made the game more dynamic. Chess tournaments were organized, and the most exciting games were immediately and thoroughly recorded. Thus, chess theory was born.

In 1561 the Spanish chess player Rui Lopez de Segura published the first book “On the ingenuity and art of playing chess”, where he considered all stages of the game and described the gambit for the first time. Later on, more and more books, scientific and artistic works devoted to chess appeared.

In 1575, the first international chess tournament between Spain and Italy was held in Madrid at the court of King Philip II. At that time, a chess tournament could gather stadiums and the chess players were real rock stars.

At the beginning of the 19th century the number of chess tournaments increased significantly, and in the second half of the century the control of move time was introduced. In 1866 an unofficial world chess championship was held. The Austrian chess player William Steinitz won it, becoming the first world champion.

Mikhail Botvinnik
Mikhail Botvinnik

In 1924, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was founded, and 24 years later, in 1948, the first official world championship was held under the auspices of FIDE. The winner was Soviet grandmaster Mikhail Botvinnik.

In general, the Soviet chess school played a huge role in the history of the game. During the Cold War, chess “terminators” were purposefully created in the USSR from childhood, and the national idea was not to lose in anything on the world stage.

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Soviet chess players literally dominated the world stage. One of the most famous Russian chess players in history is Garry Kasparov. He was the world champion for a long time and is considered one of the most outstanding players in the history of chess. His games, such as “Checkmate in 13 Moves” and “The Immortal Game”, remain classic examples of beauty and genius in the art of chess.

Kasparov and Deep Blue match
Kasparov and Deep Blue match

On May 11, 1997, IBM’s chess supercomputer “Deep Blue” won a six-game match against Garry Kasparov. After that, “Deep Blue” never played chess in public again, so it could be argued that he went undefeated

Today, chess is not as popular as it was in its early days. New and more interesting computer games have emerged, which are only improving with the growth of technology. Nevertheless, the cult of chess has not disappeared completely, international tournaments are held on it (World Cup, European Championship, Chess Olympiads), and interest in the game is periodically fueled in cinematography.

Chess is not just a game, but a true art and science that combines intelligence and aesthetics. The game teaches us to think logically, predict and strategies, and develop our mental abilities. If you don’t play chess yet, we recommend you give it a try and maybe this game will become your new hobby.

Brief history of chess

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