Who Invented Chess?

Who Invented Chess?

Chess is one the most complex things that man has ever made. It is said that the number of combination of moves possible in chess far outnumber the number of stars in the universe. It may be an easy game to learn but it is hardly arguable that it is a game that only gifted people with years of practice can master. With the game’s complexity, one would really wonder who invented chess since it is very much apparent that it is a cut miles above other board games and past times that appeared across the history of man.

To answer who invented chess, one must travel through its history to know its development.

The earliest form of chess appeared in India in the sixth century B.C. It is why one could consider the Indians to be the people who invented chess since its history started in India. This does not mean that this early form of chess was near to the one we play today however. In fact, one can see that it is nowhere near close just by learning that the earliest form of chess is played by four players. This early form however, introduced the different pieces that correspond to different ranks which makes it a clear ancestor of the modern chess.

From India, the said prototype of chess reached Persia, which is modern-day Iran. It is where the chess terms check and checkmate originated from as the Persians greatly modified the game, making it closer to what we are playing today. The Persians may not be candidates for being the people who invented chess but nevertheless, they contributed greatly to its development by modifying the game and by being a transit point through which chess reached Europe.

By the thirteenth century, chess has gained a firm foothold in the European continent and became really popular. It is also in this time that modern chess was born since the rules that we know today, such as the capability of the pawn to be promoted once reaching the furthest square and the queen being the most powerful piece, were put into place in Spain and Italy. Hence, one can say that the Italians and Spaniards are the one who invented chess – particularly its modern form.

Regardless which people one regards to be the people who invented chess, it is important to remember that all of them contributed greatly into making chess the enormously complex and enjoyable game that it is today.

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One Response to “Who Invented Chess?”

  1. Der Sigma says:

    It is one of the biggest mistakes/errors, or frauds, made out there in the recent history that “India invented Chess”.

    India didn’t invent Chess. The British Empire claimed it for India (as “British Rai”) for the glory of the empire without a SINGLE solid historical proof. The rest is hersay.

    China invented Chess instead far prior to BC, along with its “counsins” in all different forms – playing cards, basic board games/checkers, and its much more complex “big brother” WeiQi (“Go”)…

    After its invention, it’s passed on to Korea, Japan, Vietnam and the South East Asia to the East and South. That’s why even Korea and Japan have written history on Chess much earlier than India.

    The associated culture on playing Chess on a mass scale was, and is, non-existant in India, but was melted into Chinese, Jpanese and Korean general culture for the past 2000 years! This intuitively tells a much bigger part of the story.

    Through the Silk Road (by the Arab traders), the Chinese Chess was passed on to Persia which made some basic adjustments, from where India got it, followed by the West.

    This fits well with the basic logic of information flow at the time.

    The Indians themselves are indeed perplexed by the claim made by a 19th century Britsh scholar that chess was invented by them.

    Here is what was said in the Indian Historical Quarterly, a distinguished Indian scholarly journal: “Sanskrit Works on the Game of Chess”, Chakravarti, Chintaharan,Indian Historical Quarterly, Calcutta, June, 1938, Vol. 14, No. 2, Part I, p. 275. —

    “Though the game of chess is generally supposed by scholars to be of Indian origin and reference to the game is said to be found in various Indian works from a very early period, Sanskrit works dealing with it and describing its complexity are comparatively rare. As a matter of fact, no early Indian work on the subject is known and until recently the work of scholarship had very few descriptions of the game.”

    By “until recently”, the journal refers to as late as 1938 ! Indian elites and the masses didn’t know full well the rules and strategies (let alone a massive Chess culture such as that in China) of how to play Chess as late as the beginning of the 20th century until the British masters introduced it to them! In fact the very first document in India regarding the Chess only dated around the 15th Century. Isn’t that strange and counter basic logic? No.

    This journal also cites certain claims that chess was referred to in various writings by ancient Indian authors. However, it states that this was a common trick in those times in India. When one wanted to gain an audience for one’s ideas, one claimed that such-and-such famous long deceased Indian person said or wrote it without a shred of solid proof.

    The journal then proceeds to list a number of famous authors who supposedly wrote about chess (one of them was cited by the British to claim Chess invention for India), and dismisses all of these claims. In conclusion, it is unable to find even ONE source in the entire Indian literature regarding chess dated earlier than Sulipani in the fifteenth century, AD (more than 900 years after British scholar Murray says that chess was invented there)!!