Chess is one of the oldest board and strategy games played in the world. It is believed to have developed from Chaturanga, the Indian version of the game in the 6th century AD. Many theories exist about the origin of chess. Some old pieces of chess were found during excavation in an ancient Persian regions lending some credibility to the belief that the game had ancient beginnings.

Some schools of thought also believe that chess developed from the Chinese chess variation existing since the 2nd century BC. This theory has been supported by several scholars such as David Lee and Joseph Needham. Chess eventually spread westward to Europe and Japan. Some other historians believe that chess came from India to Persia thus the terminology of chess was translated into the Persian language and the name changed to chatrang. The oldest chess texts suggests a spread from the Persian Empire and an entrance into the Islamic regions of the east.

The names of the pieces and moves have an origin in the Persian language such as checkmate derived from “shah mat” which means the King is finished. “Rook” comes from the word rukh which means chariot or cheek. The Bishop on the other hand, comes from the Persian word for “the elephant”. Chess eventually spread through the Muslim world after the conquering of Persia. From there, it found its way to Russia, Siberia and Alaska through northern routes.

Modern day chess

In the early days, the European chess pieces could only move in a limited fashion. For instance, the bishops could only move by skipping two spaces diagonally, and the Queen moved a single space diagonally. There was no castling and and unlike now, pawns could not move the initial.

Adopted from Italy, modern rules were created by the end of the 15th century. With these new rules, castling became available. New rules meant pawns could move an initial two spaces. Other new features have included: en passant and elevation of the Queen to be the most powerful piece. Since then, chess has remained basically the same except for a few change in the rules.
The popular Staunton design which Nathaniel Cook created in 1849, and endorsed by Staunton, was officially adopted by the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) in 1924. They are governed by the Chess International governing body (FIDE) and have become so popular that championships employing these are actually held.

The chess pieces represent old-time ceremonies and war maneuvers. The King, for instance, is very much defended and the surrender or death of a King means destruction of the kingdom. On the chessboard, all the other pieces protect the king from being captured. The knights represent loyal soldiers whose work is to keep the King safe. The pawns represent laborers who are also there to protect and serve the King.

There are now a large variety of chess games from the physical board game to computerized versions. Some versions have added extra pieces such the Archbishop . Others such as the Synergy Chess, have made the board larger and added extra pieces such that each player has 32 pieces to begin with. However, even though these versions may vary, the basic rules of playing chess have widely remained the same. If you can play one version you can probably play the other versions.