Chess History - Chess Board UK

The Origins of Chess

The origins of chess like the origins of anything are shrouded in misinterpretation, conjecture, and at times downright fallacy. Where did the game of chess first start, and who constructed the first chess set are questions that can never be truly answered with any degree of certainty.

But, however, certain historical lineage can be said to be true beyond a reasonable doubt in the 'Cartesian' sense, and if it's good enough a philosophical basis for the burden of proof in the majority of Western law, then it's good enough for us. So without further epistemological waffle, we shall get on to the 'consensual roots of chess'.

Rumor, and historical text, and artifact based investigation has it that chess arose in the 6th century in India and Persia (modern day Iran and other surrounding countries). From there it moved in a sideways fashion toward the West in the 9th century, stopping of to make friends in Spain (and environs) in the 10th century, and the Ukraine in the 9th.

Obviously, the game's early development had gone through a metamorphosis, and what we know today as chess would be unlikely to resemble its original format. The rules evolved and changed shape, as did the pieces, although 'Royalty' has been a central theme throughout chess's evolution. The evolution of the chess table has been more recent, although no-one is sure where they really first gained popularity.

One such obvious change would be the role of the Queen as all powerful and hence the term "Queen's Chess". Further changes included the Bishop's powers, and if you think about it - 'Bishops' - were there any Bishops around in 6th century Persia? Absolutely not, thus exemplifying how the game is culturally specific and could never have managed to retain it's current format.

We hope to continue this article, so please bookmark this page, as very soon we will be looking at chess with a more strategic eye, and although we will be adding to history, the development of 'the game as it is played' will be more of a focus.


The Chessboard UK team.