Your Chess Set – History and Variations

Although the clergy frowned on the game as being a wasteful and compulsive distraction from spiritual commitment, it became a popular pastime of the aristocracy. The game of chess increased in popularity until by the nineteenth century it was played in coffee houses in many European cities.

History and origins of Chess

The history of chess, specifically that of Western Chess, spans some 1500 years. The earliest predecessors of the game originated in India in the 6th century AD. It is no surprise to see then, that the intricate carving of some of the worlds most famous wooden chess sets are also the work of Indian Artisans.

Known in its original form as Chaturanga, Chess differentiates itself from other table or “war” board games in that, unlike Go or Checkers, the pieces do not all have equal powers.The precise rules for the game of Chaturanga are something of a mystery.

Many historians of this ancient game believe that Chaturanga had similar rules to those of its successor Shatranj. In particular, there is uncertainty as to the moves of the Gaja (elephant), the precursor of the Bishop in modern chess.

The Components of the Modern Chess Set

The modern western chess set is played by two people on a chessboard divided into 64 squares of equal size, alternately dark and light. Each player has 16 chess pieces; one king, one queen, two bishops, two knights, two rooks (or Castles) and 8 pawns.

These chess pieces are arranged in a specific pattern on the chess board and may move only according to strict rules of play.

For example, the most powerful piece, the queen, may move any distance along any unobstructed line of squares, forwards, sideways or diagonally. The knight may move two squares forwards and one square sideways or vice versa …