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History of Chess:

Origin of the Game

Origin of Chess

Fig. 1: A modern day Chess Board

Today, we will take

a look at where it
all started.
Which country is
believed to have
invented the game
of chess? Any

It all started in India

In the 6th century A.D., when the

Gupta Empire ruled in India, a
game called Chaturaga was fast
gaining popularity
Chaturaga, translates as "four
divisions (of the military)":
infantry, cavalry, elephantry, and
chariotry, represented by the
pieces that would evolve into the
modern pawn, knight, bishop,
and rook, respectively

Fig. 2: An illustration of one of

the supposed ways in which
Chaturanga was played

Why Chaturaga was similar to Chess

The four divisions in Chaturaga

(infantry, cavalry, elephantry and
chariotry) are found in modern Chess
Chaturaga was also played on a 8 x
8 board
Both games are played with different
pieces having different powers
Victory depended on the fate of one
piece, just like the king in modern

Fig. 3: Modern day Chess has

a lot of similarities to the
ancient Indian game

How Chaturaga changed to Chess

When the game spread to Persia

in the 7th century A.D., it began
to be called Chatrang which
changed with time to Shatranj
The term Shah Maat to describe
what is now known as Check
mate also evolved at that time
and it is the word 'Shah' meaning
King, which is gradually believed
to have evolved into the word

Fig. 4: The word 'Chess' is

thought to have been
derived from the Persian
word 'Shah' meaning King

Other theories for Origin of Chess

Many people claim that Chess was first

invented in their country including
Russians, Chinese, Turks and Greeks
However most scholars now agree
that India gave birth to Chess through
The theories regarding the origin of
Chess has given rise to many
interesting though untrue tales. Now
we will take a look at two such stories

Fig. 5: An illustration of
the Chinese game of
Xiangqi, an early form of
which is also claimed by
some to have led to the
game of Chess

Ravana's Queen Mandodari

In the great epic Ramayana, the

demon king Ravana invents chess
to amuse his wife Mandodari.
A brilliant mind, she promptly beats
him at it.
Some other versions credit
Mandodari for inventing the game
herself while Ravana was busy
fighting wars

Fig. 6: In mythology,
Mandodari the wife of
Lanka's king Ravana is
supposed to have invented

The story of Talhand and Gav

This story appears in Persian poet Ferdowsi's Shah-nama

written in the 11th century.
Talhand and Gav, two half-brothers battle for the throne of
Hind (India). They meet in battle and Talhand dies on his
elephant without a wound.
Their mother is sad that Gav killed his brother but Gav tells
her that he did not kill Talhand
To convince her the sages of the court invent the game of
chess, detailing the pieces and how they move, to show the
mother of the princes how the battle unfolded and how
Talhand died of fatigue when surrounded by his enemies.

Chess has come a long way

The game has spread all over the

world in the last fifteen hundred
Despite being the country of origin,
India had to wait a long time before
we produced an official World
Champion of the game
Vishwanathan Anand in 2000.
In the next lesson on Chess History,
we will look at how the game spread
outside India

Fig. 7: Vishwanathan Anand

became the first Indian
world champion of Chess in