Chaturanga, a game played in
ancient India is believed to be the ancestor of modern day
chess. Opinions exist pointing out to Chaturanga's origin
from an even more ancient game played in China. Certain
historians say that Chaturanga spread to China, Korea and
Japan and different versions of the game were developed in
all these countries. The Hindu Chaturanga turned into the
Persian Shatranj and found great favor with the royalty.
Muslim invasions took the game to Western Europe and
Russia and in no time it became popular all over Europe.
Chaturanga was played on an eight by eight-chequered
Modern chess as we know it emerged in the fifteenth
century in Southern Europe. Modified and standardized
chess rules were written and circulated in the form of books. Lucena and Ruy Lopez of Spain were noteworthy names in the
sixteenth century. Then, for some time, some Italian and
later French players dominated the game. French dominance
over the game continued for a long time, until the English
player Howard Staunton claimed supremacy in 1843. To him
goes the credit of designing new chess pieces and creating
the modern chess set, which came
to be accepted as standard. He also organized the first
The first international chess tournament was held in
London in 1851 and the player to walk away with the crown
was Adolf Andersen, a German player.
Shogi, the Japanese chess
Shogi, the name given to the Japanese variation of the
game, is believed to have a following of about 20 million
people in Japan. Just as in chess, the ultimate objective
of the game is to trap the opponent's king.
Shogi as it is played today is believed to have originated
in the fourteenth century. A distinctive difference
between chess and Shogi is that a player is allowed to
re-use the pieces that he captures from his opponents. The
Shogi board has 9 x 9 squares and is played with 40 pieces
in all, twenty to a player.
There have been many variants of Shogi and the largest
known variant was played on a 36 x 36 board with 406
pieces on each side. About 15 variants of Shogi have been
identified, the oldest being Heian Shogi.
Korean chess is played on a 9 x 10 chequered board. The
main differences in the movement of the pieces are that
the elephant's movement is not restricted to one side of
the board and that the pawns can even move sideways. The
pieces are not placed on squares but on the intersection
of the squares referred to as 'points'. This is so even in
Xiangqi, the Chinese variety
Pronounced Shaingchi, this form of chess is played in
China. The movement of the pieces is almost the same as in
chess played in other parts of the world. One exception is
the horse, which is not allowed to jump.
The total number of pieces in Chinese chess is more, as
there are two 'advisors' to the king. A unique piece is
the cannon that can capture an opponent's piece only by
jumping over it. This piece is believed to have entered
the game around 10th Century AD.
The rules that govern modern Chinese chess were finalized
during 1000 AD, during the rule of the Song Dynasty. The
modern Chinese chessboard has 9 x 10 points. However one
strip in the middle, referred to as the river, is meant
just for segregating the areas of both the players.