Amazing world
of chess

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Benefits of chess player

Chess builds

Creativity
Logic and Efficiency
Planning
Emotional intelligence
Competition skills

History of chess

~ 600 AD
~ 1450
1575
1770
1849
1861
1886
1972
1985
1997
2013
~ 600 AD

Origin

Around 600 AD, the Arabic game shatranj developed from the Indian game chaturanga, becoming the first game identifiable as chess. Shatranj was played on an 8x8 board and featured 16 pieces on each side, similar to today's chess: the soldier (pawn), the horse (knight), the elephant (a weaker bishop), the chariot (rook), the counselor (a much weaker queen), and the shah (king). The game ended with checkmate, or if all the pieces of one army (except the king) were captured.

~ 1450

Meet the Mad Queen

It wasn’t until around 1450, though, that chess saw its most radical change: the mad queen. Hoping to make the game faster and more enjoyable, some players tweaked the rules to allow the queen to move as far as she wanted -- in any direction, diagonally, vertically, or horizontally -- combining the movements of the bishop and the rook. This was a huge departure from the original rules limiting the queen to moving one square diagonally. The change was so revolutionary that the French called the new game “ésches de la dame enragée,” or “chess of the enraged lady” -- the “mad queen.”

1575

First Chess Tournament

Today, tournaments are an integral part of chess. Professional players make their living in tournaments, and even beginners enter local and online chess tournaments for fun and competition. Chess tournaments, though, haven’t been around forever. The first informal international chess tournament took place when the Italians Leonardo da Cutri and Paolo Boi traveled to the court of Philip II in Madrid to play Ruy Lopez and Alfonso Ceron of Spain. Ruy Lopez had already beaten both of them in several earlier games, and it seemed like an easy victory for the Spanish after they won the first two games. The Italians, though, won the next three in a row to secure victory in the world’s first chess tournament.

1770

The Mechanical Turk

In 1770, the Hungarian inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen unveiled the Mechanical Turk, an automatic chess-playing “machine” that entertained and bewildered audiences by defeating strong human opponents. Originally designed by von Kempelen to impress an Austrian empress, the Turk had cabinets that could be opened to reveal an impressive array of gears and cogs, ostensibly to power the mechanical chess mind. In the 84 years that the Turk wowed audiences in Europe and the Americas, the Turk beat nearly all its challengers. Famous statesmen Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin were among the humans defeated by the mysterious machine.

1849

Staunton pieces

The Englishman Howard Staunton was arguably the strongest player in the world from 1843 to 1851. Staunton, a passionate chess promoter, advocated a specific style of chess pieces. Originally designed by the chess journalist Nathaniel Cook, the pieces were enjoyable to play with due to their easy piece recognition, stable bases, and pleasing design. These pieces came to be called the "Staunton" style, which is now the official design of chess pieces used around the world.

1861

It's time!

Chess games in the early 1800s sometimes lasted more than 14 hours! There were no time limits, and losing players would try to tire out their opponents. In 1861, the first chess timers were introduced using sand hourglasses with three hours of sand each. Those evolved later into "tumbling" chess clocks (patented in 1884), where one clock would start when the other stopped. The first electronic clocks weren't introduced until 1964. More accurate clocks led to faster time controls, including the now popular lightning chess where each player has only one minute to make all of their moves!

1886

First World Champion

The Austrian-American chess player William Steinitz became the first official world chess champion in 1886 when he defeated Johannes Zukertort in a match for the undisputed championship. Steinitz’s biggest contribution to chess, however, was his advancement of the game’s strategic understanding. Before the rise of Steinitz, chess was played in a romantic, hopeful, and daring style full of reckless attacks. In 1873, three years before his match with Zukertort, Steinitz unveiled a more positional style of chess, with a focus on pawn structure, the active bishop pair, and knight outposts. His attacks were only launched after careful preparation.

1972

Fisher phenomenon

Bobby Fischer learned the rules of chess at the age of six, and when he was 11 he “just got good,” according to Fischer himself. Six months after he turned 15, Fischer was a grandmaster, setting the record at the time for youngest GM ever. Fischer’s ascendency peaked in 1972, when he defeated Boris Spassky and the Soviet chess monolith to win the world championship in what is still considered the most famous chess event ever. Three years later, though, Fischer disappeared from competitive chess and public life, only to reappear 20 years later to beat Spassky in a rematch. Fischer promptly withdrew from the spotlight once again, avoiding the chess world until his death in 2008 at age 64 -- the number of squares on a chessboard.

1985

Kasparov - chess legend

After Bobby Fischer disappeared in 1975, chess lacked a superstar until the charismatic Garry Kasparov appeared on the world chess stage 10 years later. Kasparov became the youngest world champion ever at age 22 after defeating Anatoly Karpov, and remained the undisputed strongest chess player for nearly 22 years. His peak rating of 2851 stood as the highest in history until it was surpassed by the current world champion Magnus Carlsen in 2013. Kasparov enjoyed widespread fame as the face of chess for decades before retiring in 2005 to focus on Russian politics and charity projects. Fischer and Kasparov are almost universally considered two of the strongest and most famous world champions of all time.

1997

Computers Win

In 1989, the computer company IBM hired a team of Carnegie Mellon engineers to create a computer capable of beating the world chess champion. That champion was Garry Kasparov, who said “there is still a long way to go before a human on his or her best day is unable to defeat the best computer.” Indeed, in 1989, Garry Kasparov defeated IBM's "Deep Thought" computer in a 6-game match. The next version, "Deep Blue,” also fell to Kasparov in 1996. But in the 1997 rematch, Deep Blue, then capable of evaluating 200 million chess positions per second, defeated Kasparov by a score of 3.5 to 2.5. Though Deep Blue made history, today's modern chess engines running on ordinary computers could easily defeat Deep Blue. While they cannot calculate as many positions, today’s engines evaluate more efficiently and accurately.

2013

The Magnus Era

Welcome to the era of Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian superstar. Magnus is undeniably one of the most prodigious chess figures in the history of the game. He's the highest rated player ever. He became a grandmaster at age thirteen. Last year, Carlsen defeated GM Viswanathan Anand to win the world chess championship. And he's a fashion model. Carlsen plays a well-rounded game, with a variety of openings, blistering tactical play, unfathomable positional understanding, insane endgame calculation, and a ridiculous ability to defend almost any position.

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