Interesting Facts About Chess

A priest devised the folding chessboard so he could play in secret without being caught.

    Some are huge fans of this game, obsessing over the tricks of getting the opponent into checkmate in the quickest possible time frame.

    Others simply couldn’t care less, while there are some who haven’t got a clue how to play this popular board game.

    Whatever your opinion of chess, there’s no escaping the fact that it has a fascinating history and boasts some pretty interesting facts.

    The Origins of Chess

    Chess is now played all over the world, but its origins supposedly began in India way back in the 6th Century.

    Historians don’t actually know exactly where chess came from, but the majority agree that India is the most likely place.

    The game has changed throughout the years, and it took almost a thousand years to make its way to Southern Europe.

    By the 15th Century, Spain was slowly but surely becoming a fan of this popular game, and the 19th Century saw the rules of gameplay standardized as chess tournaments began.

    The International Chess Tournament

    London was the home of the first international chess tournament, which took place in 1851.

    Howard Staunton, an English master of chess, organized the event as a way of bringing together the best chess players in Europe.

    Adolf Anderssen won the event, beating 15 other players and subsequently becoming champion throughout the 1850’s and 1860’s.

    Wilhelm Steinitz is a name you should definitely know when it comes to the world of chess.

    Born in Austria, he won the first World Championship in 1886, and went on to win 25 chess matches in total and lose just two matches.

    At the age of 58, he lost his title to Emanuel Lasker, who went on to be the longest reigning champion (26 years and 337 days).

    Lasker was also a good friend of Albert Einstein, who stated that he didn’t have time for chess and didn’t want to endure anything which would force his mind to work any further after a hard day.

    However, Einstein became a fan of the board game in later life, but we don’t know whether or not it was Emanuel Lasker who talked him into it.

    However, he never played a game for as many hours as Stepak and Mashian did – this pair beat the world record after 24 hours and 30 minutes of gameplay in 1980.

    Nine years later, Nikolic and Arsovic beat the record for the most moves played in a chess game, totaling a staggering 269.

    Did You Know…

    There are 5,949 moves possible in a chess game, which makes it very possible that somebody else might come along and steal their crown in the future.

    With 64 squares on a chess board, it’s impossible to imagine more than a couple of thousand outcomes of a game.

    However, after each player has had four moves, there are more than 318 billion possible positions.

    As chess players know, pawns can move either one space or two spaces on their first move. This is a rule which was brought about by the Spaniards in 1280.

    Over a century before the Spanish brought about this rule, a priest came up with an invention which we still use to this day.

    It was the year 1125, and the priest knew that he would be in trouble for playing chess, since this was against the rules of the Church.

    Rather than submit himself to this holy law, he devised the folding chessboard.

    He designed it to look exactly like two books when it was placed on a bookshelf, so nobody ever found out his little secret.

    Chess is good for your brain.

    Alongside Sudoku and other puzzles and games, chess has been named as one of the best ways to improve the mind and the memory.

    Patients with Alzheimer’s are often encouraged to play chess in their spare time, and it has been introduced in many schools for young students.

    In some cases, it has been seen to enhance the test results of school children, and scientists have been known to argue that chess can actually increase intelligence levels.

    It seems that many people will be able to benefit from playing chess, since an estimated 600 million people around the world know how to play the game.

    The oldest chess set was used in Harry Potter.

    Fans of both chess and Harry Potter will be fascinated to read that the oldest discovered chess set was used during the filming of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

    It was found on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, but was made somewhere in Scandinavia and is thought to date back to pre-12th Century.

    Finally, chess is a game which has been enjoyed by young and old people for as long as it has been around.

    Oscar Shapiro became a chess master at the age of 74, and by contrast, the youngest ever chess champion was Jordy Mont-Reynaud at the age of 10.

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About The Author

Lizzie Robinson
Lizzie Robinson

Lizzie Robinson has been a freelance writer since 2011. She studied English Literature at university and enjoys sailing & playing the piano in her free time. Lizzie enjoys writing about current issues & business.

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