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The Evolution of the Game of Kings

During the endless lockdowns, many have rediscovered the joys of board games including chess. Since its existence, the game of chess developed through its connections to history and culture across millennia and civilizations. The origins, spread, and development of the game to what we know today prove that it has been a global phenomenon that conquered the world which still shows no sign of letting down.

 
More than 4000-year-old chessboard - Karachi Museum, Robert Harding, Universal Images Group

The Indus Valley Civilization loved games and toys. Flat stones with engraved grid markings and game pieces have been discovered which indicates that the Indus people may have played an early form of chess.

 

Chaturanga, an ancient strategy game, originated in India sometime before the 6th century AD. The name comes from a battle formation mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata, referring to the four divisions of an army — the infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots. Chaturanga is regarded as the earliest precursor of modern chess because of two key features found in all later chess variants: different pieces with different rules in which they move and victory based on a single piece, the raja (king).

 

The game of chess traveled to Persia from India, and there have been references to the game as early as 600 A.D. in a Persian manuscript. The game was known as 'chatrang' in Persian. The pieces included the shah (king), the vizier (the equivalent of the queen), the elephant (bishop), the horse (knight), the chariot (rook), and the pawns.

 

The game of chess traveled to the Islamic world from Persia and was called 'shatranj' in Arabic.

 

From the Islamic world, the game of chess reached southern Europe and it spread northwards from there. The Lewis Chessmen are the most remarkable surviving pieces of evidence indicating the pastimes of the 12th century Vikings. Made of walrus ivory, the surviving pieces consist of kings, queens, knights, rooks, and pawns.


Works cited:

“History of Chess.” Math.uww.edu, math.uww.edu/~mcfarlat/177hist.htm.


“Chess - the Peopling of New York City.” Macaulay.cuny.edu, macaulay.cuny.edu/seminars/rosenberg10/articles/c/h/e/Chess.html.


“Chess: Origins and Myth.” Brown.edu, 2009, www.brown.edu/Departments/Joukowsky_Institute/courses/13things/7295.html.


January 2012, Ben Mauk 22. “Who Invented Chess?” Livescience.com, www.livescience.com/32431-who-invented-chess.html.


“Chess - History | Britannica.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 2020, www.britannica.com/topic/chess/History.

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