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         Chess, the most ancient, intellectual and cultural game is a combination of a sport, of scientific thinking and of the elements of art. Chess, the game which, says Voltaire, 'reflects most honour on human wit' was originated in ancient India. Certain similarities exist between modern chess and an Indian game called Chaturanga, which dates back to the 5th Century A.D. Its original name in Sanskrit was Chaturangam, means 'four arms' or 'four members'. It was also the Indian word for Army, specially the four components of the army. In the 6th century it spread from India to Persia and a little later the Arabs learned the game. Chess entered Europe around 10th century. Years have gone and the Chess has grown. The modern era of Chess , however, may be said to date back to about the 17th century, when the pieces gained their present form. By the 20th century, chess, the game of hounor and wit spread all over the world.
         After the birth of FIDE in 1924, Chess attained the everlasting dynamic sport. The advantages of the Internet took the game to new heights. It is the only type of sport which allows real competitions to be held in virtual space. Today, Chess is one of the most mass forms of sport in the world. In the 159 countries of FIDE, 6 million players are registered and take part in over 5000 different tournaments every year.
         The game of chess was invented in north-west India some time in the sixth century AD. Its Sanskrit name, chaturanga indicated its origin as a war - game since it means 'four-armed' and thus clearly applies to the four arms of an Indian army : infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots. According to H.J.R. Murray it was the invention of one man, but of this there is no proof and likelihood is that it was the derivative from some game played with a board and dice and that changes were passed on by word of mouth long before the two written references, in the Vasavadatta Subandhu and the Harshacharita by Bana that appeared in Sanskrit in the late sixth and seventh centuries.
Chess Set
         Very early on, in the late sixth century, the game spread to Persia and from there to the Byzantine expire. In both cases it was the same slow game that it had been in origin and its popularity was centered in courts and among the learned. This popularity was given added impetus when the Arabs conquered the Sassanian dynasty in Persia round about the middle of the seventh century. It became a Muslim game under the name of shatranj.
         The rules were unchanged but the scientific spirit of the Arabs made them study its theory and develop its practice in a way that had hitherto been unknown. The first chess theorists of the game were the Arabs and indeed it was they who introduced the algebraic system of notation. They made no changes in the rules and continued to play it under the old, original rules right down to the seventeenth century. Equally, It was still a game for the courts, in this case for the Caliphs, and the learned men.
         Chess came to Europe through four main paths during the ninth and tenth centuries. The first way was that of trade, from regions dominated by the Arabs mostly via the Mediterranean to Europe and from Byzantium to Kiev and other parts of Europe. Another important way was through the Crusades. A third well authenticated way was via the Moors in Spain, and from the tribes in Central Asia to Russia. By early medieval times the game had come to Western Europe, to Italy, Spain, France and England. The Vikings, in particular, were a strong influence in advancing the game throughout France, England and Iceland. The earliest known chess set, the Isle of Lewis chessmen, is supposed to have been brought there by Vikings from Iceland in the eleventh century.
Chess Set
         It was in Spain, under the Moors, that the greatest increase in the popularity of chess came. It was here that the first European work on chess, that of Alfonso the Wise, was written. With the Renaissance, Italy, became a center for the game and by this time it was beginning to assume its modern Queen became greatly magnified. Castling was gradually evolved and the pawn gained its power of moving two squares initially.Chess was still a game for courts and the nobility. Elizabeth I of England and Philip II of Spain were both keen players. The latter encouraged and patronized Ruy Lopez and the first real books, by Ruy Lopez , Damiano and Lucena, were written.But it was the Italians, with Leonardo da Cutri and Paolo Boi and later with Greeco and Salvio, who dominated the sixteenth centuries.
         In the eighteenth century France with the great Philidor led the world. Now the game was passing from the courts and aristocracy to the men of literature and science, in fact to the middle classes, and theory was being rapidly developed on a modern scale.This in turn meant that England, where the middle classes really first came to some sort of power, was a great centre for chess. Staunton wrested the supremacy from France in a famous match against Saint-Amant, and then, with the remarkable comet-like interval of the great US master Pani Morphy, the chief power in chess came to be Germany.
Chess Set
         By the twentieth century chess had spread all over the world. FIDE, the World Chess Federation, was founded in 1924, and organised team championships of the world were instituted under its auspices. In the 1930s the US team, headed by Fine and Reshevsky, became World Champions but they were overhauled by the Soviet Union which became far and away the dominant chess power.
         A sign of the changes in world domination is provided by the list of World champions from the nineteenth century to the present day. In chronological order : Steintz (Central Europe), Emanuel Lasker ( Germany), Capablanca (Cuba), Alekhine, Botvinnik (USSR), a succession of other Soviet players (Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky), then Bobby Fischer (USA), and when that remarkable figure, after making chess more popular than it had ever been in its 1,500 years of existence, failed to defend his title - Karpov (USSR).

Barleycorn Chess Set Carved Parade Chess Set Red & White
Barleycorn Chess Set Carved Parade Chess Set Red & White
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