The earliest beginnings of chess are a bit uncertain but it’s believed to have originated in India in the 7th Century. The game was played and occasionally banned by medieval European kings, before becoming more established in the 1800s.
The game had its resurgence during the Cold War. That specific period forms the backdrop for “The Queen’s Gambit”, the hit miniseries that sparked chess frenzy. Why the sudden frenzy? Is it only because of the series or because chess is finally getting the recognition it deserves? We’ve prepared 40 interesting facts about chess to indulge you with the answers and maybe win you over for a game of chess!
At first, the Queen could only move diagonally, one square at a time.
Later on, the Queen could move diagonally, two squares at a time.
The Queen became the strongest piece on the board with Spain’s powerful queen Isabella.
There are over 122 million possibilities of a knight’s tour, so the knight is very unpredictable.
Some of the top chess players were code breakers during World War II.
British masters Harry Golombek, Stuart Milner-Barry, and Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander were on the team that broke the Nazi Enigma code.
The Persian phrase “Shah Mat” is the origin of the word “Checkmate” in chess. It means “the King is dead”.
The first-ever chessboards with dark squares and alternating lights appeared for the first time in Europe in 1090.
A priest who was forbidden to play chess invented the folding chessboard. A folded chessboard on a bookshelf simply looks like 2 books.
In 1280, in Spain, the new pawn move was introduced where pawns were allowed to advance two squares on their first move instead of one.
In 1882, the Mason-Mackenzie game played in London had a total of 72 consecutive Queen moves.
Thomas Wilson was the inventor of the first mechanical Chess Clock in 1883.
Macleod of Canada was considered the worst performance chess player after he lost 31 games in 1889 in the New York double round-robin.
On the show, Star Trek, Kirk, and Spock have played chess three times. Kirk won all three games.
The longest possible chess game was 5949 moves.
Chess is a truly unique game! The number of unique games of chess is 10^120 while the estimated number of electrons in this universe is 10^79.
Frank Marshal was the U.S champion for about thirty years. However, he only secured his title once after beating Ed Lasker (5-2) in 1923.
The first American to defeat a Soviet player in an international tournament was Frank Marshall in 1924, in New York.
The longest chess problem, mate in 290 moves, is a credit to Otto Blathy from Hungary who won a prize for his work in 1929.
In 1960, in Budapest, a record was set by Janos French, who played 52 different opponents simultaneously, blindfolded. He won 31 of the games he played.
The move in chess which includes a player’s king and either of the player’s original rooks is known as castling.
In 1966, the match between Bobotsor and Ikrov was recorded as the longest time for a castling move that took place during their game.
The “Match of the Century”, the World Chess Championship played in Reykjavik between Boris Spassky and his challenger Robert “Bobby” Fischer happened in 1972. The match was much more than a sporting confrontation!
In 1973 a chess tournament in Cleveland was raided by the police. The director of the tournament was arrested and the chess sets were confiscated based on the charges of permitting gambling and possession of gambling devices.
In 1985, Eric Koppert played 68 hours and 500 games of 10-minute chess.
There are 8 different ways from the starting position to mate in just 2 moves, whereas there are a total of 355 different paths to mate using 3 moves.
The longest title holder of the World chess championship is Dr. Emanuel Lasker, a German chess player. Emanuel held this title longer than any other player in history for 26 years and 337 days.
Emanuel Lasker, who was the World Chess Champion, was a good friend of Albert Einstein.
The youngest World chess champion ever was the Soviet player Garry Kasparov who was of 22 years old at the time.
The first computer to beat an international grandmaster was DeepThought, in Long Beach, California, in November 1988.
The longest chess game ever played was between Nikolic and Arsovic, in Belgrade 1989. The game ended in 269 moves as a draw.
Players in their first year, more famously known as the rookies are named after the chess piece rook in the chess. Rooks are generally considered to be the last pieces that one moves in chess.
In a chess match between M. Walker and Thorton, 100 moves are the record of the moves without capture.
There are more than 1000 different openings, which also include variations coupling openings or defences that one can master.
Chess is often quoted by psychologists as a very effective way to bolster or advance memory function.
Chess allows the mind of the player to solve several complex problems while working through the ideas.
Playing chess is also recommended when fighting Alzheimer’s disease.
Some people contend that chess is also capable of increasing one’s intelligence, which is quite complex a topic.
The positive effects of chess on the young generation had brought chess to school districts as well as many other countries.
The second-best book printed in the English Language was about none other than chess!
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about chess that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!