Here are some interesting facts about the Royal Game.
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The Origins of Chess
A common belief is that 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. 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 reached Europe and Russia around the 10th century. 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.
The game of chess as it exists today emerged in southern Europe toward the end of the 15th century. Some of the old rules were modified, new rules were added-such as castling, the two-square pawn advance, and the en passant capture-and the powers of certain pieces were increased. The most important changes turned the fers (counselor), a weak piece, into the queen, the strongest piece in chess, and the alfil, which moved in two-square steps, into the far-ranging chess bishop. The new game achieved popularity all over Europe.
The Origins of the pieces
Chess is called the game of kings, because for many centuries it was played primarily by nobility and the upper classes.
The names of the pieces-- the queen, king, knight, rook and bishop came about during the Middle Ages, when society was extremely oriented towards war and rigidly stratified.
During the Renaissance period, society became more dynamic and rules were added to enable rapid attack techniques. These include making the queen more powerful, and permitting pawns to move two squares on the first move.
The rook is named from an Arabic word rukh, meaning chariot. This reflects its ability to move quickly in straight lines, but not leap over obstacles. During the Middle Ages, when chariots were no longer in use, the rook was gradually modified to look more like the turret of a castle.
The knight's role has not changed over time. The earliest known versions of the game, it represented the cavalry with the unique ability to leap over its opponents.
Oldest surviving chess complete chess set
Isle of Lewis chess pieces are the oldest surviving complete chess set known. Discovered on they Isle of Lewis, they are made from walrus tusks and show their characters in a range of bad moods - from anger to depression.
The shortest and longest games of chess (courtesy of Wikipedia)
The quickest possible checkmate is called the Fool's mate or the two-move checkmate. It never happens in a real chess game, except with a really weak opponent (i.e. when playing a fool).
Though technically forfeits are games won with zero moves and there have been games drawn without any moves, the shortest recorded chess game was between German grandmaster Robert Hübner and then 19-year-old Kenneth Rogoff playing in the 1972 World Student Team Championship game. Hübner played one move and offered a draw to Rogoff, who accepted (as the story went, the arbiters insisted that some moves be played so the duo played a few non-sensical moves instead!). Rogoff, by the way, went on to become a Professor of Public Policy and Economics at Harvard University.
The longest game of chess (under modern time rule) was played by Ivan Nikolic and Goran Arsovic in Belgrade in 1989. The duo played for 20 hours and 15 minutes, ending in 269-move draw.
Simul: playing chess against multiple opponents at one time
Some people are so good at chess, they can play against more than one opponent at a given time. In 1922, World Champion José Raúl Capablanca played 103 opponents simultaneously and won 102 of the games (with 1 draw). Some people are very good at chess, but not so good at simul. In 1951, International Master Robert Wade played 30 Russian schoolboys aged 14 and under - and lost 20 games and drew the remaining 10! The world record for simultaneous chess exhibition (or "simul" as chess lovers often call it) was just set in 2009 by Bulgarian Grandmaster Kiril Georgiev. He played 360 games for more than 14 hours. He won 284 games, drawn 70 and lost 6 games.
Simul: Playing chess against multiple opponents at one time BLIND FOLDED!
The greatest world record for simultaneous chess, hands down, was set by George "Kolty" Koltanowski in Edinburgh in 1937. He played 34 chess games simultaneously ... while blindfolded! He won 24 games and lost 10 over a period of 13 hours. In 1960, Koltanowski did one better: he played 56 chess games blindfolded (with only 10 seconds a move) ... and won 50 and drew 6! After the games were over, he could recite the complete moves from memory.
His wife Leah once said this about her husband's prodigious chess memory: "I don't know how he does it. He can't even remember to bring home a loaf of bread from the supermarket."
Star Trek Tri-D Chess (The Chess Variant page)
Amongst the many chess variants out there, the most famous is probably the three-dimensional chess or Tri-D chess seen in Star Trek TV episodes and movies.
The original Star Trek prop was cobbled using boards from 3-D checkers and 3-D tic tac toe. The rules of the game was never explained in the storyline (beyond the famous "Queen to Queen's Level Three" line by Scottie for transporter clearance in TOS: Whom Gods Destroy), but in 1976, programmer and Star Trek fan Andrew Bartmess developed what is now the standard rules for playing Tri-D chess.
Man vs. Machine: Deep Blue Beat World Champion Garry Kasparov
It had been the dream of computer scientists everywhere to program a chess-playing computer that could win against a human chess genius. In 1985, doctoral students Feng-hsiung Hsu, Murray Campbell and Thomas Anantharaman came up with a computer that evolved into Deep Thought, the first serious chess-playing computer.
Deep Thought evolved further into Deep Blue, an IBM computer system. On February 10, 1996, Deep Blue defeated the reigning world champion Garry Kasparov in a chess game. Kasparov bounced back and won the next 3 games and drew the remaining two, thus beating the machine.
In 1997, an upgraded Deep Blue (nicknamed "Deeper Blue") with a capability of evaluating 200 million positions per second (vs 3 chess positions per second for its opponent), defeated Kasparov 3½–2½ in a rematch.