The Game of Chess
Chess is a strategic board game for two players with a history dating back over 1500 years. It's one of the most popular games in the world played by millions of people. It's not traditionally considered a gambling game, but many players do wager real money on outcomes. You can even play it online for money against other players from all over the world.
The game is played on a chessboard that contains 64 squares within an 8 by 8 grid. Each player starts with 16 pieces: one player has all white pieces and the other all black. There are six different types of chess pieces: the king (each player starts with 1), the queen (each player also 1), the bishop (2 each), the rook (2 each), the bishop, (2 each), and the pawn (8 each).
Each piece is allowed to move in a certain way, and on each turn a player may move one piece only. Pieces can be used to capture those of opponents, which are then removed from the board. The ultimate objective of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king by creating a situation where it cannot avoid being captured. Players can also win if their opponent resigns, and draws are possible as well.
There are a number of theories as to how chess originated. It's widely believed that its origins are in India with a game called chaturariga played during the 6th century. This game included pieces based on four divisions of the military (infantry, cavalry, elephants, chariots); and it's thought that these evolved into some of the pieces used in chess as we know it today. An alternative theory is that the game originated in Persia.
By the year 1000, the game had started to spread throughout Europe, particularly in the south, in slightly varying versions. Over time, rule changes were introduced and the game of chess began to evolve. During the 15th century, most of the rules for moving pieces essentially became standardized, and the queen became the most powerful piece.
It was also about this time that the earliest books on game theory were written. They looked at different opening move combinations and analyzed certain end game situations. This is something that has continued over the years, and there are hundreds of books on chess theory and strategy.
How Chess Developed
In the 18th century, France became the center of European chess activity. Several of the most prominent players at that time were French, and the game was commonly played in coffee houses in Paris. Chess was also very popular in other major cities, and the game started to become much more organized.
Chess clubs began to form in the 19th century, and more and more chess books were written. Chess problems were often published in newspapers, and correspondence matches regularly took place between clubs in different cities. Competitions and tournaments developed, and in 1851 the first international tournament took place in London. This was organized by Howard Staunton, a leading player at the time, to coincide with the Great Exhibition being held to showcase British industry and technology. There were sixteen entrants in the tournament, and the winner was a German named Adolf Anderssen. Other international tournaments followed and in 1886, the first official World Chess Championship took place. This contest still occurs today.
World Chess Federation (FIDE)
The World Chess Federation was founded in 1924 in Paris, France. It's recognized as the official governing body for international chess competition and essentially connects the network of national chess federations from around the world. The federation is commonly known as FIDE, an acronym for its French name, Fédération internationale des échecs.
FIDE organizes the main World Chess Championship, as well as comparable events for women and juniors. It also runs a number of other tournaments, including the biennial Chess Olympiad. Pretty much all competitive chess tournaments at the top level adhere to FIDE rules and regulations, even if they aren't directly run by the organization.
The Elo rating system, which calculates the relative skill level of chess players, is maintained by FIDE. This system is used to award players certain titles (held for a lifetime), based on their achievements in the game. These include Candidate Master, Master, International Master, and the highest title a chess player can achieve: Grandmaster.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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