The Story Behind the Game of Chess

Chess has experienced a long trek throughout history, bringing it to the present day. It has experienced a variety of forms from a number of different countries, each putting a unique spin on the game. In its modern incarnation, Chess is derived most heavily from Europe in the late 15th Century, where most of the common rules of the day became established. Since this time, Chess has formed a hold on many of the intelligent minds of each Century, never disappearing from the common view. Many books have been written on Chess from a variety of locations and authors, placing it high in the spotlight of intelligent, popular games which can both entertain and stimulate.

The first game from which Chess came to be born was originated in India in the 6th Century. It was originally called “Chaturanga,” which translates into “four divisions of the military.” These divisions, chariots, elephants, infantry, and calvary, were all represented by pieces much like Rooks, Bishops, Pawns, and Knights respectively. This game was played on an eight by eight board, which while uncheckered, had certain spaces with special marks. The meanings of these marks aren’t currently known today, but do not seem to have special meaning to the game itself. This game, the earliest that has been found, seems to be the birthplace of Chess.

From Chaturanga, travellers carried the game to the Far East. Here, the game began to be played on the intersecting lines instead of the blank spaces themselves. The purpose of the game was to render the opponent’s King, sometimes referred to as a General, as completely useless, much in line with a modern Checkmate. This game shares many elements with another popular game, Go, which also comes from Eastern Asia. The pieces for this version of Chess are commonly flat, marked pieces, much like a traditional checkers set.

Through Persia, the Byzantine Empire, and the expanding Arabic empire, however, the game slowly began to reach Europe. The Norman Conquest of England reached areas which played Chess early on, although the game was unpopular with Northern Europeans at this point. It wasn’t until Chess pieces began to be depicted as they are today- Kings, Queens, Bishops, Knights, Rooks, and Pawns, or men of arms- in the middle of the 12th Century that Chess began to grow popular with the people.

In 1475 AD, however, drastic changes were made to the game, evolving it into the game that Chess is today. The Queen was granted powers that had never been seen on a Chessboard before. Bishops were granted more power as well, allowing the game to begin to focus more on long-ranging attacks which ultimately sped the game up. It is also believed that the transition of the pieces into more courtly images, rather than military ones, helped the game to catch hold in Europe. In the middle of the 19th Century, Chess began to take an even stronger hold, becoming a popular game played among intellectuals. Chess tournaments became popular and every since then, the game has held a place in common public knowledge.