Chess, 'the game which', says Voltaire, 'reflects most honour on human wit', arose in the fifth century A.D. in north-west India. No more precise indication can be given as to its origin and it is not known who actually invented the game. It was then called 'chaturanga' and though the game differed in some respects from the modern version it was clearly chess. No evidence exists for its having been played earlier and the occasional rumour that crops up to the effect that it was played in old Egyptian times has no foundation in fact.
In the sixth century it spread from India to Persia and a little later in the same century the Arabs learnt the game. Chess entered Europe round about the tenth century. The largest and perhaps most significant group of chess figures to be found in Europe, are the Lewis chess pieces dated from the 12th Century. The first reference to chess in English Literature is found, somewhat late, in 1150 in a poem De Shaki ludo. The game appears to become popular during Medieval times. There are references to Edward I gambling over chess matches and one of the first books printed in English on any subject was a chess book - Caxton's The Game and Playe of the Chesse, published in 1474.
The rules differed slightly from modern chess in those times. However, by the Seventeenth Century the game had settled exactly into its modern form, from which it is unlikely to depart. An interesting encounter between the players of the modern form of chess and a player of the old Indian version occured between 1929 and 1933 when Mir Sultan Khan became British Champion and defeated the World Champion Alkehine, and the former World Champion Capablanca.
In practice the variations within the given laws are
inexhaustible, so while there are many chess variants, there is
neither reason nor temptation to alter the modern game.
Source The Game of Chess by H.Golombek
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