Historical View of Chess - Chess, the game of...

Historical View of Chess - Chess, the game of kings
by Sabia Singh

Chess, the game of kings, has its origins appropriately shrouded in mystery.

The chess board and its pieces are indicative of medieval life. The six different chess pieces on the board represent a cross section of medieval life with its many ceremonies, grandeur, and wars. The castle piece on a chess board is the home, or the refuge, just as it was a home in medieval times. The pawns on the chess board represent serfs, or laborers. There is a bishop in the game of chess, who represents the church. The king is the tallest piece on the board, and is as well defended on the chessboard as in medieval life. The king is the most important, but not the most powerful piece in chess.

The squares on the chess board were all the same color until the 13th century. This afforded the players the illusion that the chessmen were floating across the board. Europe was ultimately responsible for chess move to a checkered board.

The laws of chess and the rules governing movements of the pieces have been standard since the sixth century. It was during the 8th century in India, considered the birthplace of Chess, that the game evolved to sixteen pieces on a side. In the eighth century, the Moors invaded Persia and, as the two cultures intertwined, chess became popular with the Moorish soldiers. The Muslim world, on the threshold of its greatest scientific and cultural accomplishments, welcomed chess with unbounded delight. As the Muslims expanded their empire, in the seventh through eleventh centuries, again, chess traveled with them.

When the Moors later invaded Spain, the soldiers brought the game of chess with them. The Spanish were soon also playing chess, and from there, it quickly (in historical terms) spread throughout the Europe.

About the middle of the 15th century, the French made the single most profound change in the evolution of the game of Chess, two hundred years after Arab conquerors brought chess to southern Europe, a chess queen appear on the board. In the 16th and 17th centuries the evolution of chess took a quantum leap; the queen became the most powerful piece on the board. The queen, the only piece to represent a woman in the game of chess held a powerful yet precarious position.

From 1600-1850, it was believed that chess originated from Persia, but evidence clearly shows that chess did originate in India, rather than China or Persia as some have claimed. So by the eighteenth century chess had completely broken away from its medieval inheritance.

Since the late eighteenth century the popularity of chess has increased dramatically, especially with the introduction of matches and tournaments. The current rules of chess were finalized in the early 19th century, except for the exact conditions for a draw and today it thrives as an intellectual game.