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2.12. Chess

Chess game

History of the chess game


A chess game is a 64-square board on which two players compete by strategically moving each of their 16 pawns and whose goal is to defeat the opponent by “checkmate” – the irrevocable defeat of the king. The game is played and enjoyed by strategists around the world.

On you will find an assortment of chess sets, wooden chess game that will appeal to young and old, to enthusiasts but also to amateurs, to experts and beginners, to travellers or sedentary players 


But who is behind such an invention?

Who invented the chess game?


Beyond the legends, the date of birth of the game of chess depends on the more or less broad definition given to it. Games consisting of moving pawns on a grid have been discovered since the third millennium.

Although chess is now considered to have originated in India around the year 600, different versions contradict each other as to who invented it. The theory that the game originated in China before moving to India has some supporters.

According to one of them, a sage named Sissa invented this strategic game and offered it to an Indian prince for his entertainment. At that time, the term chaturanga was used. The game takes the form of a 64-square chessboard and is played by 4 players (2 teams of 2). Each player has a king, a rook, a knight, a bishop and four pawns.


The ancestor of chess, chaturanga (“game of four kings”), was played on 8 × 8 = 64 squares, between four opponents who each played for themselves and had a boat, a horse, an elephant, a king and four pawns. Each player took turns to play, with the roll of the dice indicating the piece to be moved and the choice of square left to the player’s discretion.

A few years later, the dice (and therefore the use of chance) were removed, the players were paired up and placed their pieces side by side, and finally the direction of each game was entrusted to a single player.

Thus constituted, the game of chess will spread in three directions: in China, then in Korea and finally in Japan, where it will give birth to slightly different games; much later (13th century? ) to Russia (either through the Mongols or the Tartars, or through the Byzantine Empire), from where it will go back to Scandinavia, Germany and Scotland; and finally to Iran, where it will be brought by merchants and will take the name of shatranj: it will be adopted by the Arabs, who, after having conquered Iran, will spread the game of chess on the north coast of Africa and will introduce it in Spain.

The game then spread throughout Christendom, and Arab manuscripts were followed by European ones.


Progressively the movement of certain pieces is modified and, with a few details, all the really significant rules of the game (in particular the optional advance of the P, the prise en passant, the promotion and the castling) are acquired at the end of the XVth century.

From Spain, the chess scepter passed to Italy (16th and 17th centuries), then to France (18th century), Great Britain and Germany (19th and early 20th century). 

Since the Second World War, for men, it has been the almost permanent property of the Soviet Union and then of Russia, whose supremacy, over a period of sixty years, was only really broken by the American Bobby Fischer (1972-1975).

Before the Second World War, the best player in the world, Vera Menchik-Stevenson, was British. From the creation of a women’s world championship in 1949 until the disappearance of the USSR, the crowned champions (L. Rudenko, E. Bykova, O. Rubtsova, N. Gaprindashvili, M. Tchibourdanitzé and their rivals, K. Zvorikina, N. Alexandria, N. Iosséliani and E. Akhmilovskaya) were all Soviets. In the following years, players of other origins, such as the Chinese Xie Jun, Zhu Chen, Xuhua, the Hungarian-American Susan Polgar, the Bulgarian Antonoeta Stefanova, would appear.

A list of famous men interested and sometimes passionate about chess would include hundreds of names. We can only quote those of whom we have very good games: J.-J. Rousseau, A. de Musset, Tolstoy, Meyrinck, Lewis Carroll, Lenin, Piatigorsky, D. Oistrakh, S. Prokofiev, M. Duchamp, V. Nabokov, John Paul II.


Some fun facts about the chess game


– The number of possible moves of a knight is 122 million.

– During the Second World War, many code breakers were chess players. So it is a question of arithmetic in both fields.

– The expression “checkmate” comes from the Persian expression “Shah mate”, which literally means “the king is dead”.

– In theory, the longest chess game has 5,949 possible moves. In practice, the longest game of all time was played in 1989 by Nikolic and Arsovic. It lasted 269 moves and ended in a draw. 

– According to the American Chess Association, there are 169,518,829,100,544,000,000.00 0,000,000 ways to play the first 10 moves of a game, which gives you many opportunities to surprise your opponent

-Chess legend Nona Gaprindashvili is suing Netflix for $5 million, accusing the production of lying about her story in the series The Queen’s Game.

– Russia’s first tsar, Ivan the Terrible, died in front of a chessboard in 1584 while preparing to fight Boris Godunov. This story is known thanks to the English ambassador of the time who reported the fact to Queen Elizabeth I, herself a great chess player.




1.The coronation of the queen: In 1450, chess knew the coronation of the queen. To make the games faster, it was decided to allow the queen to go as far as desired and in all directions.

2 Staunton pieces: Howard Staunton, who was a great chess player, had unique pieces built. These pieces are still used today as a world standard in his name. 

3 The clock: In 1861, the first chess clocks appeared, making the games much faster and more dynamic, and therefore, much more competitive.

4. The first world champion: Wilhelm Steinitz is the first world champion in 1886.

5. the age of silicon: IBM creates a computer capable of beating the world champion of the time, Garry Kasparov, in 1989.


Chess game as a tool for reconstruction


Throughout history, games and sports have helped humanity survive times of crisis by reducing anxiety and improving mental health. In 2020, while restrictions imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19 have severely limited most of these activities, chess has shown remarkable resilience, adaptability and convening power in times of pandemic.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, general interest in chess has doubled, with an increase in the number of players gathering to participate in chess events on online platforms.


Chess game for sustainable development


The United Nations recognises that sport, art and physical activity can change mindsets, prejudices and attitudes and inspire people, break down racial and political barriers, combat discrimination and defuse conflict.

Chess is one of the oldest, most intellectual and cultural games, combining sport, scientific reasoning and artistic aspects. It is played all over the world and promotes fairness, inclusion and mutual respect. They therefore contribute to a climate of tolerance and understanding between peoples and nations and play a crucial role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its goals, including the strengthening of education, gender equality and the advancement of women and girls.


July 20: World Chess Day

On 12 December 2019, the General Assembly therefore proclaimed 20 July as World Chess Day to highlight their important contribution to peace and international cooperation. The date chosen corresponds to the founding date of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in Paris in 1924.

Since 1966, at the initiative of FIDE, 20 July has been celebrated by chess players around the world as International Chess Day.

The designation of World Chess Day by the United Nations is intended not only to reinforce FIDE’s important role in supporting international chess cooperation and promoting friendly harmony among all peoples of the world, but also to provide an important platform for promoting dialogue and solidarity and fostering a culture of peace.


History: Some cheating in chess 


World number one and undisputed champion Magnus Carlsen has accused the young American Hans Niemann (49th in the world) of cheating. This is not the first time that the issue of cheating has come up on the chessboard and shaken the chess world. In a tweet on 26 September, the reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen accused the young American prodigy Hans Niemann of cheating. The accusations were unsubstantiated. “I am very surprised by Magnus Carlsen’s attitude. You don’t accuse without proof,” explains Kevin Bordi, 35, creator and host of Blitzstream, the largest French-speaking channel dedicated to chess on Twitch and author of books on the game.

If cheating were proven, it would not be the first time in the history of chess, a game that abounds in more or less sophisticated cheating systems. Complex mechanisms, artificial intelligence… If technology has revolutionised the game and created precocious vocations, it has also encouraged fraud. Here is a selection from the archives:


At the end of the 18th century, the Hungarian engineer Johann Wolfgang von Kempelen invented the “Mechanical Turk”, an automaton with a sophisticated mechanism capable of moving the pieces of a chess set. He claims that his robot is capable of playing against a human. In reality, the invention hides a small player who operates a complex set of cogs that activate the automaton’s articulated arms. At the time, the “Mechanical Turk” impressed and toured the courts of Europe, from Empress Maria Theresa of Austria to Tsar Paul I of Russia. The trick became famous for beating famous people such as Napoleon I, Benjamin Franklin and Allan Edgar Poe.


  1. On the pavements of New York’s 42nd Street, players offer passers-by a game of chess for a few dollars. Like the voucher game, these clandestine open-air games attract fans despite their prohibition. This is where “Bobby the Fish” comes in, an ex-con caught cheating in front of an embarrassed audience.


11 May 1997. Deep Blue, an artificial intelligence capable of calculating 200 million moves per second, beats the world champion Garry Kasparov. A first in the world of chess. If it is not a cheat strictly speaking, it is a revolution in the game. The man-machine alliance, called “Centaur”, now combines computer power, intelligence and human strategy. For professionals, it is impossible to ignore the machine when training. “Technology changes everything. If you give this kind of artificial intelligence to a top 50 player in the world, you won’t be able to detect him. Because he’s playing very well and the small difference in level that it makes will be believable,” says Kevin Bordi.

Who is Kevin Bordi?

Kevin Bordi, born on 24th March 1987, is a French streamer, web video maker and chess player. He has been offering chess videos or live broadcasts on his YouTube and Twitch channel Blitzstream since 2013. With 184 000 subscribers he is the most followed French-speaking chess video maker.


24 March 2011. The French team is in turmoil. Sébastien Feller, a young French champion, is accused of cheating and heavily sanctioned during a tournament in Russia. The rules are quite complex. The match is broadcast live on the Internet. From France, an accomplice calculates the best move using a computer. He then sends the information by SMS to the player’s coach in Russia. Using coded movements, he tells his player the right move to make.

Are chess players the kings of cheating? “Cheating in chess is relatively easy and very low risk. No one is able to collect evidence, as tournament security is almost non-existent. The profits can be enormous, with professional players earning several million euros a year,” explains Kevin Bordi. But you have to avoid getting caught.

What can be done to combat cheating?                                                                            

Although the FIDE (International Chess Federation) is silent on the subject, the professionals behind the scenes often mention broadcasting games with a half-hour delay or random checks on players, as in other sports. To fight against cheating on the internet, “there are quite efficient algorithms that ban cheaters from the platforms”, explains the French chess player and video maker Kevin Bordi.


Testimony of a chess player




In conclusion, the game of chess is a very old game, since it is more than 1 500 years old. However, it has always known a great success, which it still knows today! Its secrets are countless and so are its legends. What is certain is that chess has not finished surprising us, whether you are an amateur like me, or a professional.

Buy a chess game, chess games gifts, chess gift ideas, funny chess gifts you will find many chess sets at different prices that will please the youngest as well as the oldest on our sales site




Historique qui a inventé le jeu d’échecs?

Universalis: “Jeu d’échecs”

Mondial des jeux: histoire des échecs

Nation Unies: journée mondiale du jeu d’échecs 20 juillet

INA: Petite histoire de la triche aux échecs

Twitch: Chess

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