Chess was invented in India around the 7th century and was known as Chaturanga. However, the origin of chess remains a matter of controversy. Chaturanga, the earliest precursor of modern chess, flourished in North-western India and was also mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata. This article will help you determine who invented the chess game and how it has evolved.
Who invented the chess game?
The origin of chess can be traced back to the 7th century in India, where the game Chaturanga probably evolved into its current form. From India, it is said to be spread, over time, throughout Asia, Europe, and other continents. We have mapped out a timeline for you that highlights key moments that lead to what we chess.
Chess in the 569 to 1497
During this timeline, the game of Chess made its way to other continents. We can see that the reference on how to play chess and its rules came into existence during this time. Here are the key highlights that took place from 596 to 1497:
- Chinese Emperor Xiang Jing wrote a book of Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) in AD 569. Chinese chess also belongs to the same family of games as Chaturanga.
- During the Sasanian Empire, Shatranj, another game linked to chess was played. You can also find references to this Persian game in the Karnamuk-i-Artakhshatr-i-Papakan during AD 600.
- During AD 720, chess spread across the Islamic world from Persia.
- The En Passant rule came into existence in the late 14th century.
- The rule that a stalemate is a draw was presented in a manuscript from Krakow in 1422.
- Before 1471, there were various chess references, but the first book that solely highlights chess is The Göttingen manuscript.
- The first chess book in English was by William Caxton in 1474.
- From 1475 to 1525, Castling and modern moves for Queen and Bishop were slowly adopted.
Chess in the 16th Century
By the 16th century, chess made its way to being called a competitive sport that many people could play. Here are key highlights from the 16th century:
- A Spanish priest named Ruy Lopez has made a significant contribution to chess opening theory. His book is one of the first books published about modern chess in Europe, after Pedro Damiano’s book in 1512. Ruy Lopez’s book coins “Gambit” to describe opening sacrifices, the term that is still used while playing chess. Also, not to forget the famous Chess opening “Ruy Lopez.”
- By 1575 the first known championship between Chess Masters was held in Madrid. The game was played between the Italian masters Giovanni Leonardo and Paolo Boi, with Spanish masters Ruy López and Alfonso Ceron. Leonardo wins, with Boi placing second, López third, and Ceron fourth.
Chess in the 17th to 18th Century
During the 17th century, books on chess openings were written. The first known descriptions of Fool’s Mate and Smothered Mate were during this time. The Algebraic notations still used in chess were first featured in the book Essai sur le jeu des échecs by Phillip Stamma in 1737.
The 18th century saw one of the best players in Chess who played the game blindfolded. François-André Danican Philidor (France) played two opponents blindfolded in Paris during 1744. In fact, during 1783, he plays as many as three games simultaneously without even seeing the board!
By the 19th century, Philidor got credited with the coining of the master of defense strategy, a famous endgame move in chess that still carries his name.
Chess in the 19th century
Here are the key highlights about chess in the 19th century:
- In the 19th century, chess sets were standardized for the first time. Nathaniel Cooke was the first person to design new chess sets that are still functional to date.
- The first manufacturer of chess sets was in London at a store called Jacques.They popularised the new chess sets t used by Howard Staunton, who was the topmost player during that era. Staunton popularised these chess sets worldwide, and they came to be known after him as the Staunton pattern. Some minor variations have come after that, but those are significantly less in number.
- Up until the 19th century, clocks were not used to play the game of chess. In other words, the game was not played in a competitive style or in a time-bound manner. Sometimes, each game could last up to 2 hours. It was during this time that the competitions started timing the game.
Development of chess through 19th and 20th century
At first, chess was played using attacking methods. The defensive techniques were not researched yet. Paul Morphy entered the scene during the 19th century, and he was the face of all these aggressive attacking styles. Then came Wilhelm Steinitz, who was not fond of the attacking style game and instead went for the positional play format where he used to offer the gambit pawn and then squeeze out a win. Until then, there was no positional play format, and he officially went on to become the world champion.
The famous positional chess gained massive popularity. The most important openings for a chess game were now the Queen’s Gambit, Ruy Lopez, and Piano.
Jose Raul Capablanca came to the scene in the 1920s and then became a world-class player. To date, Capablanca’s strategies are considered the greatest of all time. His endgame ability is often regarded as the world’s best.
In the 1920s, a new school of chess entered the scene, which was known as hypermodernism. The fundamental principle of hypermpodernism is to use small pieces to dominate the center rather than pawns to occupy it.
Chess – The present-day scenario
Chess was previously regarded as a masculine game, which men used to play in the 16th century till the world championship events took place. After the World Chess Federation was established in the year 1924, there was a change in the scenario. Chess was now played with both men and women at national and international levels.
The present-day scenario includes the world champion, Magnus Carlsen, who is currently the highest-rated player in the world. Now, the game does not include people only playing face to face, but there are chess tournaments held online that have participants from all over the world. YouTubers have now opened channels about playing chess, and some gamers also stream it online. Chess is now a widely favored game across the globe and is also the most loved and versatile game in the world.
Yes. Chess is a highly competitive sport and enhances analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. It also improves focus and nurtures spatial skills. Take a look at this article that lists down 20 benefits of playing chess.
Viswanathan Anand is the best Indian chess player, with the highest standard rating of 2751, as of March 2022. Take a look at the top 100 Indian chess players.
To win the game, you need to understand the most basic chess strategies and use them against your opponent. Here are 8 simple and powerful strategies that can help you win. Also, take a look at the best opening moves in chess.
Yes. An in-depth study found out that regularly playing chess can help increase IQ scores by quite a margin.
Chaturanga, invented in India around the 7th century is the earliest precursor of modern chess.