Origin of Chess or Chaturanga

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The earliest precursor of modern chess game called chaturanga which flourished in India by the 6th century during the Gupta Empire (280-550 CE). Chaturanga is an ancient Indian strategy game which is the common ancestor of the board games like chess, shogi, sittuyin, makruk, xiangqi and janggi. A common theory behind the India’s development of the board and chess was likely due to India’s mathematical enlightenment involving the creation of the number zero. Other game pieces uncovered in archaeological findings are considered as coming from other distantly related board games which may have had boards of 100 squares or more. Findings in the Mohenjo-daro and Harappa (2600–1500 BCE) sites of the Indus Valley Civilization show the prevalence of a board game that resembles chess.

There is another theory that Chess was designed for an Ashtāpada i.e. having eight feet in sanskrit. The Ashtāpada is an Indian board game which actually predates chess and have 8×8 board for playing chaturanga or chess.

Chess was introduced to Persia from India and became a part of the princely or courtly education of Persian nobility. The game reached Western Europe and Russia by at least three routes, the earliest being in the 9th century. By the year 1000 it had spread throughout Europe. It was introduced into the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors in the 10th century. Chess also has description in a famous 13th century manuscript covering shatranjbackgammon and dice named the “Libro de los juegos”.

The words for “chess” in Old Persian and Arabic are chatrang and shatranj respectively, which were derived from sanskrit word “caturaṅga”, which literally means an army of four divisions or four corps. The first modern chess tournament was held in London in 1851 and won, surprisingly by German Adolf Anderssen.  Anderssen was hailed as the leading chess master and his brilliant, energetic attacking style became typical for the time.