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A strategy board game designed for two players.

Chess is an abstract strategy board game for two players. It is played on a square board of eight rows (called "ranks") and eight columns (called "files"), giving 64 squares of alternating colour, light and dark, with each player having a light square at the near-right corner when facing the board. Each player begins the game with 16 pieces which can move in defined directions (and in some instances, limited range) and can remove other pieces from the board: each player's pieces comprise eight pawns, two knights, two bishops, two rooks, one queen and one king. All pieces can remove opponent's pieces by landing on the space they occupy.

One player controls the white pieces; the other player controls the black pieces (the player that controls white is always the first player to move). In chess, when a player's king is directly threatened with capture by one or more of the opponent's pieces, the player is said to be in "check". When in check, only moves that can evade check, block check, or take the offending piece are permitted. The object of the game is to checkmate the opponent; this occurs when the opponent's king is in check, and no move can be made that would prevent it.

Chess is not a game of chance; it is based solely on tactics and strategy. Nevertheless, the game is so complex that not even the best players can consider all contingencies: although only 64 squares and 32 pieces are on the board, the number of possible games that can be played far exceeds the number of atoms in the universe.

Chess is one of the world's most popular games; it has been described not only as a game but also as an art and a science. Chess is sometimes seen as an abstract wargame; as a "mental martial art", and teaching chess has been advocated as a way of enhancing 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. The most popular, in descending order by number of players, are xiangqi in China, shogi in Japan, and janggi in Korea.


Many countries claim to have invented the chess game in some incipient form. The most commonly held view among historians is that chess originated in Sindh. In ancient India, it was called Chaturanga. The earliest mention of Chaturanga, or any version of chess, appears in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, written circa 500 BC. It is also believed that the Persians created a more modern version of the game after the Indians named Shatranj. The oldest known chess pieces have been found in excavations of Moen jo Daro in Sindh dated to the 3000 BC. One ancient text refers to Shah Ardashir, who ruled 224 - 241 AD, as a master of the game. Another theory exists that chess arose from the similar game of Chinese chess, or at least a predecessor thereof, existing in China since the 2nd century BC. Joseph Needham and David Li are two of many scholars who have favored this theory.

Chess eventually spread westward to Europe and eastward as far as Japan, spawning variants as it went. One theory suggests that it migrated from India to Persia, where its terminology was translated into Persian, and its name changed to "chatrang". The entrance of chess into Europe, notably, is marked by a massive improvement in the powers of the queen. The oldest known texts describing chess seem to indicate a bi-directional spread from the Persian empire. From Persia it entered the Islamic world, where the names of its pieces largely remained in their Persian forms in early Islamic times. Its name became "shatranj", which continued in Spanish as "ajedrez" and in Greek as "zatrikion", but in most of Europe was replaced by versions of the Persian word for "king".

There is a theory that this name replacement happened because, before the game of chess came to Europe, merchants coming to Europe brought ornamental chess kings as curiosities and with them their name, which Europeans mispronounced in various ways.

Modern chess

Early on, the pieces in European chess had limited movement; bishops could only move by jumping exactly two spaces diagonally (similar to the elephant in xiangqi), the queen could move only one space diagonally, pawns could not move two spaces on their first move, and there was no castling. 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, bishops acquired their modern move, and the queen was made the most powerful piece; consequently modern chess was referred to as "Queen's Chess" or "Mad Queen Chess". 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. Most countries of the world have a national chess organization as well. Although chess is not an Olympic sport, it has its own Olympiad, held every two years as a team event.

Source: Wikipedia

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