This store requires javascript to be enabled for some features to work correctly.

History of Chess

Chess is a game that has been around for centuries and the origins are unclear. However, it is popularly thought that history of Chess started around the 6th century in India. The game then moved through the Persian world, spreading on through the Arabian states and then on to Southern Europe.

Indian Roots

The game of 'Chaturanga' which had very similar rules to chess and is most likely to be the origin of our current game. Each piece had unique moving abilities and the board - the 'ashtapada' board -  was the same with 8 x 8 squares. On some of the early game board 'X's were marked on some of the squares and are thought to have been safe squares where pieces cannot be captured.

The game Chaturanga is thought to have simulated military movements and battle and the name came from a battle formation described in the ancient Indian epic the Mahabharata. 

In the very early games, the King, Knight, Rook moved in the same way as 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. Pawn could only ever move one square forwards and if a stalemate occurred the winner was automatically decided. 

Chess Tournaments

Serious Tournaments first began in the 1800's, and the first World Chess Championship was held in 1886  between the two leading players in the world, Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort. During early chess tournaments, there are no rules set for the amount of time you could take to make your move, and games could go on for many hours.

Over time a range of new formats for the game developed including five minute chess and speed chess where a specific amount of time was allotted for each move. Financial fines were given if players went over the time limit. However, as professional chess players in Europe were most often the rich, the fines had little impact and the penalty was removed and replaced with forfeiture of the whole game -now known as 'losing on time'.