A Very Brief History of Chess

Most historical sources agree that a form of chess originated in Asia prior to the 6th century AD.  Eventually the game we recognize and play today appeared in Europe around the 15th century.  The full history of chess is interesting, and very deep, this article will cover just a few of the basics.

Chess became a pastime associated with nobility and high culture, and was even listed as one of the seven skills a noble knight should acquire.  Early games of chess were very slow and sometimes lasted for days, until the movement of some pieces was changed, primarily to speed up the game, and to make reaching checkmate easier.

Knights Templar Playing Chess

Knights Templar Playing Chess

Some of the changes to the game:

  • Pawns changed from moving only 1 space on the first move, to moving up to 2 spaces.
  • Queen no longer only allowed to move only 1 space diagonally.
  • Bishop in early chess moved only 2 squares diagonally.
  • In some areas (mainly Russia) the queen could also move like a knight, but that has changed.

By the 19th century many chess clubs organized quickly.  Books and journal articles on chess started also started to appear in abundance.  The first modern chess tournament was held in London in 1851, and was won by the German Adolf Anderssen.

Some important marks in the time-line of chess:

  • late 10th century – Dark and light squares are introduced on a chess board.
  • late 13th century – Pawns can now move two ranks on first move.
  • late 14th century – The en passant rule is introduced.
  • 1475-1525 – The modern moves for the queen, bishop, and castling are slowly adopted.
  • 1845 – Telegraph is used to transmit moves in a match between London and Portsmouth.
  • In 1861 the use of time limits on competitive matches appeared.  This was due to the fact that some players took as long as 2 hours and 20 minutes to make a single move.
  • 1867 – Mechanical game clocks are introduced in tournament play.
  • 1886 – First official World Chess Championship match was held between Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort.  Steinitz wins decisively to become the first official world champion.
  • 1924 – Establishment of Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE).
  • 1945 –  After World War II, the first international sporting event is USA vs USSR Radio chess match.  The USSR scores an overwhelming victory and would dominate world chess for the next 25 years.

Presently chess is enjoyed by all ages, all over the world.  You can spend as little as a dollar on a chess set,  or spend up to $9,800,000.00 on an actual chess set made of diamonds.  Well, the majority of us can at least look at a picture of it.  :)  It seems after 1500 years of game-play, chess has perhaps become the world’s most loved strategy game.

White King & Rook ready to Castle

White King & Rook ready to Castle

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