189. The King of Games!


Chess is a war game and the chess board is the battle field. The pieces are the soldiers of war. They move, advance, recede, capture and get captured! Obviously Chess is a game that grew out of the clash and tumult of a real battle.

Many myths surround the origin of this game of Chess. A tale from Medieval Persia goes thus: Two Royal brothers fought for the crown. When one of them was killed, the other one commanded the wise men of his court to invent a game, which would explain the tragic events to his grief-stricken mother and console her.

Another story goes thus: Sassa, a mythical Arab philosopher invented the game. As a reward, he demanded to be paid with a single grain of wheat for the first square. The payment was to be doubled for each following squares on the board! He managed to empty all the granaries in the country and became a wealthy man!

Another story says that the game of chess was invented during the siege of Troy, in the 12th century B.C! But India must have been the origin of the game of Chess. “Chaturanga” (the original name for the game) means the four parts of an army viz, the cavalry, the horsemen, the chariots and the elephants. From India it spread to Persia (modern Iran) and became very popular there.

Many names and terms used in the game are derived from the Persian words. “Piyadah” the foot soldier became “The Pawns”. The Chariot “Rukh” became “Rook”.”Shahmat” or the helpless king became “checkmate”

Persia was the stepping stone for Chess. From there it spread to Spain, Western Europe, and to the far north. By the end of the Middle Ages, chess was made a more dynamic game with many changes. One of the popular variants was the “Courier Game”which had 12×8 squares instead of the usual 8×8!

During the 15th century, the Queen, originally known as “the minister” became the most powerful piece on the board. Interest is Chess is stronger today than in any time in its colorful history. The game is being played by the young and the old alike today.

Chess is rightly called “The game of Kings and the King of games”!

Visalakshi Ramani

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