Top 10 Wonderful History of How Chess Was Invented

how chess was invented

The chess history of how it was created still says that it originated in India. And there’s a story about it which you can watch below this article.

So, the history of chess is so fascinating that those who are already playing chess for more than a year have asked or researched its history and how it was invented.

I only found out about its origin only after learning searching it online, and I am so impressed, and I feel grateful that I became part of the chess world too. In this article, I’m going to share with you a sort of timeline and origin of the creation of chess. 

Enjoy reading!


Top 10 Wonderful History of How Chess Was Invented

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Some of the best chess players biggest games upsets!

The Birth of Chess

Somewhere in 600 AD, Shatranj which is a type of Arabic board game that was originally developed from Chaturanga which is an Indian board game becomes the first board game that may be identified as the first chess game. 

People during that time would usually play shatranj on a board that has a dimension of 8 by 8, and the total number of pieces that are available on the board on every side is 16 which is pretty much the same as a chess game that we usually play today.

The pieces on the board would consist of a soldier which we usually call today as a pawn, a horse which is a clear representation of a knight, an elephant which would represent the weaker version of a bishop as it does have some limited tiles to move to, a chariot which represents a rook, a counsellor which represent a weaker version of a queen and finally a shah which is the king. 

The way for one to defeat the other player is by eliminating all the pieces of the army except the king or by checkmate.

The True Origin of Chess

The true origin of chess remains unknown even though the history of chess can be traced back to approximately 1500 years ago. However, it has been said that one of the earliest predecessors of the chess game can be traced back to India, and it was all before the 6th century AD. The board game made its way to Persia from India. 

When the Arabs have successfully conquered Persia, the game of chess was brought into the Muslim world and the game gradually become famous later on in Southern Europe. From there, chess is modified to become into its current form.

Romantic chess is a term used by people to describe the chess-playing style that is predominant that started from the end of the 15th century up to the 1880s, and it’s good to know that during this period, the chess-playing style is focused more on fast tactical positioning strategy rather than strategic planning that could be applied later on in the future for long-term use. 

After the romantic era of chess, what comes next is the Hypermodern and Scientific eras, and it was until the mid of the 19th century that the modern chess tournament began.

Here is a really good short animated video story of the true origin of chess!

How Chess Came to Life

Chess originally came to life in the 6th-century as, during this point in time, the youngest prince of the Gupta Empire in India was tragically killed on the battlefield by soldiers. To represent the scene of how his younger brother died on the battlefield, his elder brother then decided to think of a way to show his grieving mother how his brother died. 

He chose to use an 8 by 8 Ashtapada board that is commonly used during that time to visualize the scene. From there, a new type of board game came to life!

This new game has two key features. Each piece that is available on the board may only be moved according to a certain set of rules, and the most important piece, which is the king will determine the fate of the game. Just like I have mentioned previously, the game was known as Chaturanga which is a type of Sanskrit word which means “the four divisions”. When the game spread to Persia, people started naming it as Chess which is derived from the word “Shah” which means the king. 

The word checkmate was also derived from the word “shah mat” which means that the king is dead or unguarded by the enemy threat.

Chess, Asia and the Arabs World

Soon after the 7th century of the Islamic conquest on the Persian, chess becomes popular in the Arabs world. The Arabs utilize the game for strategizing effective military planning, and soon chess became the main source for poetic artistry. 

Courtier, as well as diplomates, may use chess as a term to describe the political situation and power during that time. Apart from that, the ruling caliph of that time also started to master the art of strategy by using the chess game.

One of the most famous historians known as al-Masudi assumed the game to be the testament to the free will of a human. Trade that was conducted during that time via the Silk Road has caused the chess game to be later introduced to the East as well as southeast Asia. In China, for example, the pieces of chess were placed on the intersection of the tiles instead of putting them inside the tiles. 

This shares a lot of similarities with the native game Go, and in the Japanese Shogi, a captured piece could be used by the enemy to take advantage of the situation.

Europe and the Initial Modern Form of Chess

The modern form of chess began to take place in Europe, and it was in Europe that chess became an important part of education in court. Chess was used in Europe as an indirect representation to describe the different levels of social classes that have different kinds of roles that they need to perform and the pieces of the chess were interpreted again in a new type of context. 

This re-interpretation has caused the Church to develop some suspicion towards the chess game.This has led to some of the moralists of that time to urge people not to spend too much time playing chess. As a result, in France, some of them have decided to ban people from playing chess on Friday. 

Despite all the effort to contain people from playing chess, the game has become increasingly popular among people. It was up until the 15th century that the game evolved into the form of chess that we now know today. 

The weak advisor was replaced with a new powerful version of the queen, which makes the pace of the game to be even more accelerated.

The Birth of Chess Theory and the Cold War

As other sets of chess rules became popular, people in Europe started to analyze the typical openings as well as the endgames, and from there, the chess theory was born. In the era of enlightenment, the chess game that was traditionally played only in the royal courts made its way to local coffeehouses. 

People started recognizing chess games as an expression of one’s creativity as it encourages dramatic plays and bold moves. This “romantic” chess-playing style which has been explained previously reached its glorious peak up until 1851 where the Immortal Game was held.

During the Immortal Games in 1851, this is when Adolf Andersen managed to get a checkmate after he has sacrificed both of his rooks and queen. The formal competitive play, on the other hand, started in the late of the 19th century, which oftentimes utilizes a strategic calculation that would, later on, ended the game with a dramatic end. 

As the international chess competition becomes increasingly popular, chess holds a new geopolitical significance as during the Cold War, and the Soviet Union started to invest a lot in encouraging its people to cultivate chess talent in younger generations. Consequently, this has caused the Soviet Union to dominate the chess championship for centuries.

Upsetting the Russian Dominance with AI

The Russians have completely dominated the chess championship up until the emergence of one player that would truly give the Russians a hard time and this player is not a citizen of any country as it is a type of IBM computer that is known as Deep Blue. 

Scientists for decades have developed computers that could play chess so perfectly, and the result of it is Deep Blue. The triumph that Deep Blue has over Garry Kasparov in the year of 1997 was the first time in history where a lifeless machine can defeat a real human champion.

In our world today, the chess software that has been developed by scientists have been able to defeat even the best human player at a consistent rate. However, just like the chess game that these machines have mastered, they are only the product of human ingenuity. Maybe that same ingenuity will perhaps help us to escape from this checkmate that we’re facing today.

The Story of Deep Blue

In the year of 1989, a computer company that is known as IBM decided to hire a group of engineers to make a computer that can beat the world chess champion of that time. The champion that was known as Garry Kasparov said that “there is still a long path to cross before any human on her or his best day is unable to overcome the best computer”. 

That was indeed true for some moment as in the year of 1989, and he managed to defeat the computer made by IBM called the Deep Thought in a six-game match.

Garry also defeated the next version of a computer made by IBM in the year of 1996 called Deep Blue. However, in the year of 1997, he fell to the Deep Blue computer as, during that point in time, the Deep Blue computer has been able to evaluate a total of 200 million chess positions every second and it has managed to defeat Garry with a score of 3.5 to 2.5 points. 

Although Deep Blue made an important record in history, today’s modern chess engine can easily overcome Deep Blue as they can evaluate more precisely and efficiently.

Chess in the Glorious Era of Magnus

Magnus without a shadow of a doubt is considered by many to be one of the most important chess figures in the entire history of the chess games. He has the highest rating that a player could ever achieve, and it all began when he was only 13 years old. In the year of 2013, he managed to defeat the Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand and automatically win the international world chess championship and since then, he became an icon for the young newbie player to make an example of.

Overall, Magnus Carlsen played a well-rounded game that has a wide variation in terms of the openings, unfathomable positional understanding, blistering tactical play, extreme endgame calculations, as well as an insane ability to protect almost any type of position. 

On top of that, by the age of only 23 years old, he can be among the highest-rated chess player in the rank since he was just a teenager. It has been predicted that he will be the top chess figure for quite a long time in the future. Oh, and I also forgot to mention that he was just a regular fashion model when he managed to win the world chess championship.

Modern Day Chess

Chess has now become a popular board game that can be played by anyone, anytime and anywhere. The only things that you would need to play chess nowadays are either you have some good friends and a chess set to play, or if you’re alone, you may still compete with other players from all around the world provided that you have a credit card, a laptop, and a smooth internet connection. 

Chess has now become more than just a game. For some, it is their way to earn a living; for others, it’s an important career that needs to be maintained to have a good image in the eye of the public.

There are also still many people nowadays that would play chess for fun to fill their free time with their family members and friends. Chess is now an instrument that could be used by people to bring people closer together. People with a high level of creativity would demonstrate their chess talent in an international tournament with the hope of winning the cash prizes offered. With numerous moves and strategies that can be implemented in the game, it’s not surprising at all to see the game of chess survived for such a long time.

Wrapping Up

If you want to take a break teaching or learning about chess, then this article is another way of learning chess but in a different way… 🙂

You can refer to this anytime you want to share a different context or idea to someone who are already interested in learning chess or even to those who are just starting to learn chess!

To summarize here are the topics that I shared in this article: 

  • The Birth of Chess 

Here you are going to learn about the previous pieces that were different during this time, especially the way you were supposed to win is very different.

  • The True Origin of Chess

In this section, you are going to learn about the most famous story of the origin of chess which I have also mentioned in my introduction.

  • How Chess Came to Life

According to historians, there’s a story about a young prince and was the cause of how chess came to life.

  • Chess, Asia and the Arabs World

It is interesting that this simple game also became a source of planning a military strategy to this particular country.

  • Europe and the Initial Modern Form of Chess

In this section, chess became very popular to a lot of people, but this was also the time that it was also banned. 

  • The Birth of Chess Theory and the Cold War

Here you will learn about the immortal game and were the start of learning about opening and endgames became popular.

  • Upsetting the Russian Dominance with AI

This is where the interests of creating a computer that can play against a human chess player have started!

  • The Story of Deep Blue

This event is historical as a group of engineers tried to create a computer that will face the best chess player during this time.

  • Chess in the Glorious Era of Magnus

Here is where one of the most popular chess players seems to conquer the world of chess at a very young age and has become one of the most famous chess players in the chess world!

  • Modern Day Chess

 During this time chess has become very popular and can now be played online!

I hope you were able to learn something new about the history of how chess was invented! Have fun learning more about chess history! 

Gary Flores

Hi there! I'm a dad with kids who loves to learn how to play chess by learning online - also, this is my way of refreshing my knowledge about this game of tactics & strategy. I created chessdelights.com to inspire people who are also learning, re-learning or teaching their kids the game of chess.

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