When it comes to something as old as the game of chess, the origins as well as its development tend to be obscured. The main reasons for this are the lack of specific information, the impossibility to date and organize in a chronological sequence the available information and sometimes even the inability to test the veracity of the existent documents. Yet, we can affirm without going on a wrong path that the first games of chess were played in Asia.
There have been voices locating the origins of chess in China. According to them, the game of chess was developed in the 2nd century B.C. However, written documents that could attest the existence of chess in China appeared in only in 7th century A.D. Another location claiming the primacy in chess history is Persia, the antique country situated on the actual territories of Iran. The documents supporting this claim date from 10th century and are of literary origins (a poem of Firdousi, a Persian poet). Other locations mentioned as the incipient point in the chess history are India, China and Japan.
The introduction of Chess on the Old Continent has a precise moment in the global history and that is the 8th century when the Moors have conquered Spain. The barbarians have brought with them this skill game. It is reported that Haroon-al-Rashid, the Persian leader has personally given a chess set as gift to Charlemagne.
Even though the chess game was quite similar to what we know now, the rules of antique chess were rather different, as well as the names of the figurines involved in the game. For example, what we now call the tower has been first an elephant, then an elephant with a tower in its back. Because the elephant was rather hard to carve, the tower was chosen as a simpler replacement.
Another highly interesting thing to remark is the fact that at the moment the game of check penetrated Europe it was played on an unchequered board. The chequered board was introduced by the Europeans, thus making the game more attractive as well as more precise.
In the 11th century, the chess was mainly a game played by aristocracy, this is why it was also named the “kings game”. It continued to be a game exclusively dedicated to the upper classes until the end of the 19th century when people got more access to the game and the first chess tournaments were organized. The first international chess competition was held in 1851 in London. The location was not chosen randomly of we come to think that in the 1840s London became the epicentre of chess world.
Since then, the popularity of chess grew steadily and with it the number of tournaments dedicated to chess players. In 1976 there were about 100 chess competitions, while in 1990 there have been reported more than 1000 similar tournaments.
Nowadays chess is available to all those willing to learn it. Due to the extensive availability of chess materials suitable for all budgets, even people with low incomes can afford to buy a chess set and enjoy the greatness of this antique game. Moreover, with the development of technology, special devices simulating chess playing can be found on the market. They are called chess computers and are a wonderful addition for chess addicts looking for partners willing to spend all day long playing chess.