History of Chess - A Timeless Game
Chess is one of the most popular board games in the world today. It
involves two players, and requires strategizing and tactical planning.
The game of chess is not a modern invention, and there is a good deal of
controversy among chess historians regarding the true time and place of
the emergence of chess. Many countries claim to have invented it.
However, most historians trace its origins back to northern India or
Afghanistan sometime around 600 AD. The most common theory is that the
form of chess we play today evolved from a game called 'Chaturanga',
which was played in ancient India. Since the Arabic, Persian, Greek,
Portuguese and Spanish words for chess are derived from Chaturanga, it is
the most accepted view that chess originated in India. However, another
theory claims that chess evolved from a game of 'Xiangqi' that existed in
China in the 2nd century BC.
Regardless of its origin, chess eventually spread all over the world. In
so doing, it took on regional terms. When it entered the Islamic
countries, the names of the chess pieces were retained in their Persian
form, but the name of the game itself became 'Shatranj'. When the game
was introduced to Europe, chess terms were replaced by English words; the
'Shah' became 'King', the 'Begum' became 'Queen', for example.
The entrance of chess into Europe was marked by the enhancement of the
powers of the 'Queen' piece. Early on in European chess, the pieces had
very limited movement. The Bishop could move forward only by jumping two
steps diagonally, and the Queen could move only one step forward
diagonally. Pawns could move just one space at a time during the first
move instead of the customary two steps on the first move that we see
today. There was no castling, either. By the late 15th century, the
modern rules for the basic moves of the pieces had been added--Pawns
could move two squares on their first move, Bishops could move as they do
nowadays, and the Queen became the most powerful of all the pieces. The
current rules were finalized in the early 19th century.
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