History of Chess

History of Chess

Chess is a game that has been around for centuries. Just like many other traditional games that have been around for centuries, the origins aren't known completely. When games have been around for this long, the records of where and when the game was played in the past are not complete and just like languange and all sorts of other games they evolve.

If you think about games that you play, it is quite natural for people to play using slightly different rules. Everyone has a natural tendency to adapt games to suit their circumstances (mostly when not playing competitively) and this is certainly what must have happened with Chess.

Tracking though the history of Chess it is thought that the game started before the 6th century in the country of India. The game then moved through the Persian world, spreading on from there (Persia is the ancient civilisation which is now known as Iran). When the Arabian people took over Persia, the game spread even further and was taken on by these people too. The game moved on the Southern Europe with the Muslims where it became more like the game we play today.

Indian Roots

As stated above, the game began it's history in India, with a game called 'Chaturanga' which had very similar rules to chess. the game had one distinctive element - that each piece has different powers within the game.

In these ancient times, many games would be played using the same board - it is thought the 'ashtapada' board (and 8 x 8 squared board) was used to play the game chaturanga. On some of these early game board 'X's were found on some squares which are thought to be safe squares, or sqaures where your pieces cannot be captured when using the board for other games.

The game chaturanga is thought to be a game created to simulate military movements and battle. The name came from a battle formation described in ancient indian epic (writings) Mahabharata. The roots are thought to be in military strategy, maths and gambling - it is thought that the very early games may have used a die to decide on which of the pieces were to be moved.

In the very early games, the King, Knight, Rook were moved the same as in the modern version of the game. The Queen could only move one square diagonally (unlike today where the Queen can move any number of squares in any direction). The Bishop could move two squares in straight lines (not diagonally) but could jump over a piece if necessary - today the bishop moves only diagonally. The Pawn could move one square fowards (not two like today) and the rules differed slighlty whereby in some games stalemate automatically decided the winner. So we can tell just by looking at the history of Chess that this game dates back to before the 6th century and is certainly around to stay.

Serious Tournaments

Serious Tournaments first began in the 1800's, and the first World Chess Championship was held towards the end of the 1800's. During the early chess tournaments, as no rules were set for the amount of time you could take to deliberate your move, people found these games to go on for many hours.

This brought on a whole host of new games including five minute chess, speed chess and games where a certain amount of time was alotted for a number of moves. Financial fines were brought in as a means of giving penalties for going over the time limit. However, as professional chess players in Europe rarely had problems with money, fines for going over your allocated times were removed and the only penalty enforced was to forfeit the game to your opponant. This therefore gave the game another way to end and one player to lose - by 'losing on time'.

It was in 1851 that the first chess tournament was held in London - won by a German player called Adolf Anderssen. At this point, the game was becoming a sport. The first World Chess Championship was so called as the Polish-German master Johannes Zukertort was beaten by Wilhelm Steinitz from Prague. From that point, the Worl Chess Championship title was won very much like titles are won in boxing - by beating the current reigning champion.

The young German mathematician Emanuel Lasker was the longest reigning worl champion of chess - who held the title for 27 years