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Sunday, 23 March 2014



Chess had evolved in India by the 6th century AD as a game of war: to illustrate and rehearse army movements.

The Persians adopted the game of chess from India, and when the Arabs conquered Iran, they made chess part of their life and carried it wherever they went. That is how, with the spread of Islam, chess also extended as far West as Spain, as far North as Turkistan, as far East as the Malayan Islands, and as far South as Zanzibar.

The word "checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah-Mat," which means the king is dead.

Vikings enjoyed board games such as chess where there are two sets of pieces attackers aiming to capture the King and defenders aiming to get him safely to the edge of the board. Game boards have been found scratched into floors and rocks. Pieces could be stones, shells, carved of wood or ivory, clay figures or anything like that.

In the early days of chess, the Queen could only move diagonally, one step at a time. As real-life queens gained power, so did the piece.

In 1561, a Spanish priest named Ruy López de Segura published his celebrated chess strategy book, Libro de la Invencion liberal y Arte del juego del Axedrez. The tome recommends playing with your back to the sun to blind your opponent. If playing at night by a fire, it advises you to cast a shadow over the board with your hand, so your opponent "will not be able to see where to play his pieces."

Shakespeare’s only reference to chess is in Act 5, scene 1 of The Tempest, where Prospero finds Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess".

The first international chess tournament opened in London on May 26, 1851. The tournament was conceived and organised by English player Howard Staunton, and marked the first time that the best chess players in Europe would meet in a single event. German chess master Adolf Anderssen won the sixteen-player tournament, earning him the status of the best player in Europe.

Adolf Anderssen

Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti ruled in 2016 that chess is forbidden in Islam, claiming that the game encourages gambling.


The film director Stanley Kubrick financed his early movies by playing illegal chess for money in New York parks.

Leading American chess master Donald Byrne and and 13-year-old Bobby Fischer (March 9, 1943 – January 17, 2008) played a famous chess game called The Game of the Century on October 17, 1956. Fischer beat Byrne and won a Brilliancy prize.

Bobby Fischer in 1960 

Fischer won the World Chess Championship in a Cold War battle against the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky in Reykjavik in 1972.

In 1992, the U.S. authorities issued an arrest warrant after Fischer beat Spassky in an unofficial rematch in Yugoslavia, when that country was under UN sanctions. They were seeking income tax on his winnings.

22-year-old Garry Kasparov, of the Soviet Union became the youngest World Chess Champion on November 9, 1985 by beating Anatoly Karpov, also of the Soviet Union.

Kasparov is considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time. From 1986 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked world No. 1 for 225 out of 228 months.

Garry Kasparov Owen Williams, The Kasparov Agency. - Wikipedia Commons

In 1996 Garry Kasparov beat IBM supercomputer 'Deep Blue,' to win a six-game match 4-2 in Philadelphia.

Deep Blue won the first game on February 10, 1996. It was the first game to be won by a chess-playing computer against a reigning world champion under normal chess tournament conditions. During the game Deep Blue made a move that puzzled Kasparov so much, it made him believe the machine had superior intelligence. It threw the grandmaster off his game, and ultimately cost him the match. The move was the result of a bug in Deep Blue's code.

Deep Blue was heavily upgraded, and played Kasparov again in May 1997. The computer won the six-game rematch 3½–2½  becoming the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess tournament time controls.

Deep Blue IBM chess computer. By James the photographer

A critic of President Vladimir Putin, Kasparov retired from chess in 2005 to campaign for democracy in Russia and moved to New York in 2013 to avoid arrest.

Czech chess Grand Master Vlastimil Hort once played 201 games simultaneously in 30 hours and losy only ten.

Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen is a Norwegian chess Grandmaster and former chess prodigy whose peak rating of 2861 achieved in January 2013, surpassed Garry Kasparov's 2851 rating record (set July 1999).

The late actor Heath Ledger was an avid chess player, winning Western Australia's junior chess championship at the age of 10.

Actors Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan had never played a game of chess in their lives until the movie X-Men required them to do so.

Latvian politician Dana Reizniece-Ozola whose roles include being the country's Minister of Finance is also a chess player. She holds the title of Woman Grandmaster (2001), the second highest-ranking chess title that exists for females.


The longest tournament chess game ever played was between Ivan Nikolic and Goran Arsovic in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1989. The game took 269 moves, lasted 20 hours and 15 minutes — and ended in a draw.

Iceland has more chess grandmasters per head of population than any other country.

The most expensive chess set in the word is the Jewel Royale Chess Set which costs $9.8 million.


The number of possible ways of playing the first four moves per side in a game of chess is 318,979,564,000.

There are more possible outcomes to a 40-move chess game then there are atoms in the known universe.

The longest chess game that is theoretically possible has 5,949 moves.

Chess in a mandatory subject in Armenian schools. Children aged 6 and up are taught chess as part of the mandatory curriculum.

Her's a list of songs on with chess pieces in the title.

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