Brief history of chess

This article is brief history of chess and its development in time.

Brief history of chess

The earliest history and origins of chess is surrounded by legends, myths and fairy tales that speak of the magical powers hidden in the game but as far as we know today, records indicate the game was initially invented and played by the royal families (Raj) of India. We do not have clear cut archeological evidence of the earliest games but what we know comes from a respected Arabic author during the 10th century named Al-Mas’udi, who describes Indian chess sets carved in ivory. Although none of the original Indian chess boards or pieces can be found, an Arabic style chess board based on the Indian chess style still exists to this day and is the earliest known chess piece in this game.

Perhaps it is the lack of evidence and all the legends that surround the humble beginnings of this game that still inspires many in this game but extensive research have led foremost experts to agree that the origin of Chess is Indian. Many early Arabic and Persian works indicate that the game was indeed from the royal palaces of the Indian sub-continent. From India, the game spread gradually into Persia and into the Arab world and through them, it reached the West. Along with chess, many other Indian things such as can be found in the “Arabian Nights” and “Arabic Numerals” all found their way into the Arab world and eventually into the West.

From early records, the Persians called the piece we call the king in Chess to be a “Shah” or the equal of a king. Keep in mind that many words that were originally used in the Indian chess were lost or not used in modern day Chess. The piece right next to the Shah (king) and the most powerful piece in the game was called Farzin or the wise man. During the middle ages, Farzin was changed to the office of the Vizier or Prime Minister and then changed again to the term “Queen” or “Lady.” The piece we know today as the Bishop was originally known as the elephant. The piece called Rook was known as rukh which means camel or elephant with towers or war-chariot or hero in many parts of the world. Then during the middle ages, that meaning was changed and then adopted to mean a castle – which was considered the stronghold of a medieval European king as was the names used before for each respective culture. The world of Pawn still is preserved in many ways with the Indian root while the meaning of the term Knight was originally called Horse (with varying sub-names for the horses based on which culture the game was played in). However, out of all of this, one word still remains the same. The word “Check” is still the same from the Persian root which was originally from the Indian game.

However, one thing is clear, even though the pieces pretty much are the same form the ancient Indian game of Chess, the rules have changed. Now the “Queen” can move almost anywhere while the knights run around in “L” shapes. In the older game, the knights moved only 3 spaces, the queen moves only 1 and the bishops move only 3 while rooks still moved a lot like today. Thus the older version of Chess was a lot more “harder” due to the limiting factors of when and how you can move the pieces. So every time you use the word Check, you are paying tribute to the Persians and every time you mention chess or play it, you pay tribute to the Indians.