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For other meanings, see Chess (disambiguation).
Chess (from the Persian word Shah) is a board game for two players played on a square board divided into eight rows (or ranks) and eight columns (or files) of 64 individual squares which alternate in color orthogonally (traditionally as white and black, though other colours are sometimes used). Each player has 16 pieces, made up of eight pawns, two knights, two bishops, two rooks, one queen and one king, each kind of piece moving differently. The two sides are differentiated by contrasting colors. The object of the game is to make it impossible for the opponent to prevent the capture of the opponent's king (checkmate). It is widely believed that the game is a modified version of the Indian game Chaturanga. , black rook and queen, white pawn, black knight, and white bishop.]]

Table of contents
1 Introduction
2 History
3 Computer Chess
4 Notation
5 Subject overview
6 See also
7 External links


Chess is not a game of chance; it is based solely on tactics and strategy, and for this reason, it is sometimes known by the soubriquet the "Game of Kings". Nevertheless, the game is so complex that not even the best players can consider all contingencies.

number of legal positions in chess is estimated to be between 1043 and 1050, and the game-tree complexity approximately 10123. The game-tree complexity of chess was first calculated by Claude Shannon (father of information theory) as 10120, a number now known as the "Shannon number".  Typically an average position has thirty to forty possible moves, but there may be as few as zero (in the case of checkmate or stalemate) or as many as 218.  

Chess is one of the humanity's most popular games; it has been described not only as a game, but also as an art, science, and sport. Chess is sometimes seen as an abstract wargame; as a "mental martial art", and teaching chess has been advocated as a way to increase mental prowess. Chess is played both recreationally and competitively in clubs, tournaments, online, and by mail (correspondence chess). Many variants and relatives of chess are played throughout the world; amongst them, the most popular are Xiangqi (in China), Janggi (in Korea), Shogi (in Japan), and Buddhi Chal (in Nepal), all of which come from the same historical stem as chess.


Although many countries claim to have invented it, the preponderance of evidence is that chess originated from the Indian game Chaturanga, about 1400 years ago. There is a story that a king in India wanted to reward the poor mathematician who invented the game. The mathematician requested the king to gift him one grain of rice for the first square, two for the second, four for the third and so on, doubling the grains for each successive square. The king, considering this a trivial prize, agreed, and lost his entire granary even before the 40th square was reached. This story is often quoted as an example of a Geometric progression.

Later, chess spread westwards to Europe and eastwards as far as Korea, spawning variants as it went. From India it migrated to Persia, and spread throughout the Islamic world after the Muslim conquest of Persia, although many Islamic scholars consider Chess to be haraam (prohibited), whether or not it is played with the intention of gambling. Chess then reached Russia via Mongolia, where it was played at the beginning of the 7th century. It was introduced into Spain by the Moors in the 10th century, where a famous games manuscript covering chess, backgammon, and dice named the Libro de los juegos was written under the sponsorship of Alfonso X of Castile during the 13th century. Chess reached England in the 11th century, and evolved through various versions such as Courier. However, the origins of chess are still questioned as the oldest archaeological chess piece was found recently in the ancient city of Butrint in Albania.


By the end of the 15th century, the modern rules for the basic moves had been adopted from Italy: pawns gained the option of moving two squares on their first move and the en passant capture therewith (see pawn for explanation); bishops could move arbitrarily far along an open diagonal (previously being limited to a move of exactly two squares diagonally) while losing the ability to jump over the intervening square, and the queen was allowed to move arbitrarily far in any direction, making it the most powerful piece. (Before, she could only move one square diagonally.) There were still variations in rules for castling and the outcome in the case of stalemate.

These changes collectively helped make chess more open to analysis and thereby develop a more devoted following. The game in Europe since that time has been almost the same as is played today. The current rules were finalized in the early 19th century, except for the exact conditions for a draw.

The most popular piece design, the "Staunton" set, was created by Nathaniel Cook in 1849, endorsed by Howard Staunton, a leading player of the time, and officially adopted by Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) in 1924.

Chess's international governing body is FIDE, which has presided over the world championship matches for decades. See World Chess Championship for details and a more in-depth history. Most countries of the world have a national chess organization as well.

Computer Chess

Once the sole province of the human mind, chess is now played by both humans and machines. At first considered only a curiosity, the best chess playing computers like Shredder or Fritz have risen in ability to the point where they can seriously challenge and even defeat the best humans.

Garry Kasparov, then ranked number one in the world, played a six-game match against IBM's chess computer Deep Blue in February 1996. Deep Blue shocked the world by winning the first game in Deep Blue - Kasparov, 1996, Game 1, but Kasparov convincingly won the match by winning three games and drawing two. The six-game rematch in May 1997 was won by the machine which was subsequently retired by IBM. In October 2002, Vladimir Kramnik drew in an eight-game match with the computer program Deep Fritz. In 2003, Kasparov drew both a six-game match with the computer program Deep Junior in February, and a four-game match against X3D Fritz in November.


Until the 1970s, at least in English-speaking countries, chess games were recorded and published using descriptive chess notation. This is still used by a dwindling number of mainly older players who emphasise its practical advantages such as being more mistake-proof. However, it has been largely supplanted by the more compact algebraic chess notation. Several notations have emerged, based upon algebraic chess notation, for recording chess games in a format suitable for computer processing. Of these, Portable Game Notation (PGN) is the most common. At the other extreme, a notation which sacrifices playthroughability for concision is Steno-Chess which minimises the number of characters required to store a game. Apart from recording games, there is also a notation Forsyth-Edwards Notation for recording specific positions. This is useful for adjourning a game to resume later or for conveying chess problem positions without a diagram.

Subject overview

Rules of chess

- Official FIDE rules

History of chess

Famous chess games

List of chess players

Chess strategy and tactics- basic concepts

Chess problems and puzzles

Chess and the computer

Chess on the Internet

Chess literature

Chess in literature and the arts

The Lewis chessmen also inspired Noggin the Nog.

Chess and mathematics

Chess and music

The game inspired the musical Chess.

Chess as mental training

Correspondence chess

Chess variants

Chess-related deaths

Chess has some anecdotal deaths associated with it. These Chess-related deaths were due to players' reaction to the game (usually by losing) and not due to the game itself. Most of the people involved in these events were royalty, appropriate for the "Game of Kings".

See also

External links