Be amazed at the history of chess

FIDE International Chess Federation

Chess is loved by people all over the but do you know the how, why, where, and when factors of its origin? Let us delve deeper into the history of chess.

The history of chess dates back to approximately 1500 years. It first originated in 550 AD in Northwestern India but the precursor of the game known as “Chaturanga” originated in north India at the time of the Gupta empire. In Chaturanga, the four divisions were infantry, cavalry, elephantry, and chariotry which, nowadays, represent pawn, knight, bishop, and rook respectively.

In 600 AD, the first clear reference was made in a Persian manuscript that describes its arrival to Persia form India. You will be amazed to know that the date of first undoubted chess pieces is ~700 AD. Moors, then, brought chess to Spain and Sicily in 800 AD and in 900 AD, the muslim chess masters “Suli and Al-Lajlaj” wrote about the techniques of the game for the first time in their works.

The game spread to Europe and Russia around 1000 AD but the modern game that is played today originated between 1475-1500 AD. The first printed chess book became available in 1495 and the book that is available at present was printed in 1497. Recording of the first master games as they were played was done in 1780s.

The first chess magazine came out in 1836 succeeded by the US chess tournament played for the first time in 1849. The game’s first International tournament was started in 1851. And the first timed match in the history was played in 1866 followed by the tournament which used specially designed chess clocks in 1883.

In 1886, the first acknowledged World Championship was played which was followed by the first chess Olympiad organised by FIDE in 1927. You must have heard about the numerical ratings assigned to players in the modern game of chess. The ratings got standardized in the year 1960.

FIDE organized a match tournament as there was a vacancy created by the death of Alekhine, the first Russian champion of the London Championship, 1927 and until 1975 the FIDE format worked really well without any problems. Thereafter, 3 year cycles of regional and international competitions were organized by the International Federation of Chess for determining the challengers for the World Champion and solicited bids for the match sites. At that time, the Champion had no longer a veto over opponents and was required to defend the title every 3 years.

After this, Women’s World Championship began to be organized by FIDE. Also, the Federation developed new championship titles for various age groups. It created a system for recognizing top players b ratings and titles based on their performances. After World Champion, the highest title came to be known as the International Grandmaster and presently there are more than 500 International Grandmasters in the world.

All World Champions and Challengers from 1951 to 1969 were Soviet citizens but the turnaround happened when Robert J. Fischer of the USA won the title in 1972. After winning the title he objected to a rule which was put in place by FIDE since 1951, that limited the number of matches played in the championship to 24 games. FIDE dropped the rule but Fischer wanted much more than that. At last, he refused to defend his title and in 1975, became the first champion to lose it by default.

Turnaround of the game, with the invention of databases and chess engines, happened in the 20th century. Fischer’s successor, Anatoly Karpov ruled for 10 years and gave way to a person known as Garry Kasparov. Kasparov defended his title under the Federation’s rules during 1986-1990 three times and won each time. By the mid-1990s, nearly 2000 tournaments were registered with FIDE held each year. Amateur chess came to the forefront for the first time too and expanded swiftly. FIDE started organizing Knockout tournaments for 1999 and Alexander Khalifman of Russia won the first knockout tournament held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 2000, the tournament was split between India and Iran in which Viswanathan Anand emerged as the winner. The Bulgarian Grandmaster Veselin Topalov won the 2005 FIDE World Championship and competed in a unification match against Kramnik, who is recognised as the “classical” world chess champion by FIDE, in 2006 where Veselin was defeated. Thereafter, V. Anand won the tournament in 2007 and became world champion and successfully defended the title against Kramnik in 2008. He defeated Topalov in 2010 and Boris Gelfand in 2012. This way Anand retained his title. In 2013, Magnus Carlsen of Norway defeated Anand and became the first youngest-ever world chess champion.

Between 2007- 2018, numerous chess websites sprung up and became common. Along with this, online games were invented as well and this way the game became more and more popular. And, the present situation is that the game is at its advanced level loved by all and played by all.

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