Chess originated in India in the 6th century. It was called "chaturanga", which means literary "four divisions of the military". Another theory is that is started in China around the 2nd century BC. Chess reached Europe and Russia around the 10th century. What we do know is that today Chess Games are held any where, in homes, at clubs, online and by mail either for recreation or in a competition or tournament. The most important aim of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king!
Most chess players, who evolved into the great masters, started at an early age. World chess champion J. Capablanca began to play chess at the age of four after seeing his father play many games of chess. Anatoly Karpov was trained in the game of chess at four as well and then went on to become a grandmaster and world champion. "International grandmaster" is one of the highest titles you can receive and J. Polgar achieved this at the age of 15. Bobby Fischer was awarded this title at 14 years old. Maybe it's easier to learn how to play chess at an early age but of course chess isn't only for the very young, it's popular with all ages. Gyorgy Negyesy who passed away in 1992, just before his 99th birthday, was the longest living master chess player.
Due to chess being one of the oldest games created there are many interesting facts surrounding it. The main consensus is that chess originates from India, due to its similarities to a Hindu game called Chaturanga that has been around just as long. However, the word 'checkmate' actually derives from a Persian phrase 'shah mat,' translating into 'the king is defeated.' The game is so lost in its antiquity that no-one really knows where its origins lay.
Chess games can last hours or minutes depending on the skill of the players or even their fortune. It is unbelievable but there have been games which involved only 1 move, amazing! A famous game like this was held between Rogoff and Huber in 1972. But the longest game ever recorded was between Nikolic and Arsovic, held in Yugoslavia in 1989. This chess game involved 269 moves and took over 20 hours and no one won.
Women regularly win championships and claim world titles too. Nona Gaprindashvili became the first woman to win a men's chess tournament in 1977 when she tied for first place at Lone Pine and then went on to achieve men's international grandmaster status in 1978. The youngest women's world champion of all was Maia Chiburdanidze who was 17 years old when she won the women's title (from Gaprindashvili) in 1978. Susan Polgar was the first woman in history to qualify for the men's world championship in 1986 and went on to receive the grandmaster title in 1991. Edith Price was 76 when she won the British ladies championship in 1946.
In 1977, Czechoslovakian Vlastimil Hort played 550 opponents, 201 of them simultaneously. Not satisfied with a 'regular' game of chess, some chess players like to set themselves a challenge. George Koltanowski did exactly that when he played 56 consecutive games in 1960. He won all but 10 games in just over thirty hours. He challenged himself even more by playing blindfolded Austrian master Josef Krejcik played 25 games simultaneously in 1910 and lost every one.
Chess sets are not only practical and simple; many of them are beautifully crafted and unique. The Isle of Lewis chess set was discovered in 1170. Carved from walrus tusks, each of the characters is shown in a bad mood, ranging from anger to depression. For a chess board with a difference check out the one that allows for 3 players. It follows the same rules as two player chess with slightly different rules for moves made through the centre of the board. And if it is unique chess pieces you are seeking, take a look at Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali's classic design that substituted the traditional chessmen with silver fingers and thumbs based on his own digits.
If you already know how to play chess why not treat yourself and upgrade your chess board and chess pieces with a quality set? If you never played before but you want to start the all you need to do is purchase yourself a basic chess set and you can start learning how to play chess today. Oh, and you will need a willing partner of course!
John Sokol, is the owner of Quality Chess, a website selling quality chess boards and chess sets.