Origin of ordinary things: Chess – The New Times

Chess

Chess is a two-player strategy board game played on a checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an 88 square grid.

Chess, as we know it today, was born out of the Indian game chaturanga before the 600s AD, according to chess.com. The game spread throughout Asia and Europe over the coming centuries, and eventually evolved into what we know as chess around the 16th Century. One of the first masters of the game was a Spanish priest named Ruy Lopez. Although he didnt invent the opening named after him, he analysed it in a book he published in 1561. Chess theory was so primitive back then that Lopez advocated the strategy of playing with the sun in your opponents eyes.

According to Britanicca.com, the modern rules and appearance of pieces evolved slowly, with widespread regional variation. By 1300, for example, the pawn had acquired the ability to move two squares on its first turn, rather than only one at a time as it did in shatranj. But this rule did not win general acceptance throughout Europe for more than 300 years.

Chess made its greatest progress after two crucial rule changes that became popular after 1475. Until then, the counsellor was limited to moving one square diagonally at a time. And, because a pawn that reached the eighth rank could become only a counsellor, pawn promotion was a relatively minor factor in the course of a game. But under the new rules, the counsellor underwent a sex change and gained vastly increased mobility to become the most powerful piece on the boardthe modern queen. This and the increased value of pawn promotion added a dynamic new element to chess.

Also, the chaturanga piece called the elephant, which had been limited to a two-square diagonal jump in shatranj, became the bishop, more than doubling its range.

Chess continued to gain popularity throughout the world, and in the mid-19th Century the standardisation of chess sets occurred. Before the 1850s, chess sets werent uniform at all. In 1849, Jaques of London (a manufacturer of games and toys) introduced a new style of pieces created by Nathaniel Cooke. These same pieces were endorsed by Howard Staunton, the strongest player of his time. This new style of pieces, known as the Staunton pattern, became instantly popular and were used in tournaments and clubs all over the world. The Staunton pieces, and minor variations of it, are still considered to be the standard for tournament chess sets.

Chess, itself, was developing greatly during the 1800s. The most famous games of this time period were swashbuckling attacking games - strong defensive ideas hadnt been learned yet. If a player wasnt sacrificing their pieces right and left trying to checkmate their opponent in a violent manner, then it wasnt a fun game! It was during this attacking era in chess that the American player Paul Morphy entered the scene.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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Origin of ordinary things: Chess - The New Times

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