Chess, the Game of Kings, has a long and debated history. The word Chess is an acronym for Chariot, Horse, Elephant and Soldiers. It helps us develop patience, concentration and teaches us to devise strategies. As important as it is to plan your strategy, players need to study the opponent’s moves equally keenly to win the game. All in all, playing chess helps individuals develop their cognitive skills. In this article, let us learn about this centuries-old game, its history, rules, and related trivia. This is important as a part of your General Awareness syllabus for SSC, Bank and Railway exams.
History of Chess
The history of chess is highly debated. Right from when it was invented to where it was invented and by whom, you will find a variety of answers depending on who you ask. It is, however, generally accepted that chess was invented in North India. This game is said to have evolved from an older version called chaturanga that has been referenced in the Mahabharata.
In his comprehensive book, A History of Chess (1913), H.J.R. Murray outlines how Chess was discovered in North India and traveled to Persia (now, Iran) with the traders. The game then became vastly popular in the Middle East and Central Asia. Chess, as we know and play it today, began to evolve in Europe only in the late 19th century.
Chess is played on a square board with an 8×8 square grid. The squares are alternately coloured black and white. The objective of the game is to eliminate the opponent’s king through ‘checkmate’. Let us briefly understand the rules of the game.
- The player with the white pieces begins.
- Players make moves in alternating turns.
- The first piece to move is generally always the pawn. In some strategies, players may choose to move their knights first.
- If a player encounters the opponent’s piece in its path, it eliminates the piece by assuming its place on the board.
- No more than 1 piece can occupy a square at a given time. Similarly, 1 piece can only occupy one full square at a time.
- When either king is threatened to be eliminated in the next move, he is said to be in ‘check’. The player must inform his opponent of the threat by saying ‘check’ out loud.
- Checkmate occurs when either player places the opponent’s king ‘under attack.’ When ‘under attack,’ the opponent can make no more permissible moves.
- In other words, the king under ‘check’ can neither escape out of danger nor can the threatening piece(s) be eliminated.
- Either player who successively attains this objective is said to have ‘checkmated’ the opponent’s king.
- The game is then over.
There are 6 different types of pieces in chess. Each player has 16 pieces each. The different pieces hold different values as well that determine their importance in the strategy. The values of the pieces do not determine the fate of the game. The lowest-valued piece is a pawn (1 point) and the highest is the queen at 9 points. The Bishop and Knight pieces are called ‘minor pieces.’ Let us look at the number of pieces per type and the role they play in the game.
- 1 King– The king can move in any direction one step at a time. It is the most important piece in the game. The game is concluded when either player eliminates the opponent’s king. Also, the king can make a special move that is called castling.
- 1 Queen– The queen is the most-valued player that can move countless (unoccupied) squares in any direction- horizontally, vertically and diagonally. The queen is an indispensable part of any chess strategy.
- 2 Rooks– The rook is a major piece that moves straight, either vertically or horizontally, in any direction for any number of squares.
- 2 Knights– The knight is a unique piece that moves in an L-shaped direction. It takes 2 steps in one direction and then turns 90 degrees from the same square.
- 2 Bishops– The bishop may move diagonally in any direction. 1 of the two bishops moves along white squares while the other moves diagonally along black squares only.
- 8 Pawns– The pawn moves 1 step forward when required. The pawn moves 1 step diagonally when it eliminates an opponent’s piece.
- July 20 is celebrated as International Chess Day.
- Howard Staunton founded the Chess Player’s Chronicle in 1841. This was the most successful magazine exclusively dedicated to chess.
- The first World Chess Championship was held in 1886.
- World Chess Federation (FIDE) was founded in Paris in 1924.
- Viswanathan Anand became the first Indian grandmaster in 1988.
- Anand is a five-time chess champion.
- Sergey Karjakin holds the record for being the youngest grandmaster at the age of 12 years and 7 months in 2003.
- The reigning champion is Magnus Carlsen from Norway.
Preparing for a competitive exam is also like a game of chess. Firstly, you need patience and concentration to get you through the grueling process. Secondly, you need a (study) plan before you begin. You have to follow through on your plan and modify it as and when the need arises. Thirdly, while you must focus on your preparation strategy, you also have to keep an eye out for the latest trends and best study material. Lastly, once you’ve won the game and landed your dream job, you get massive bragging rights. Also, you will have proven to everyone that you are as smart as you are hard-working and you can live life king size.
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