You can play chess with a traditional wooden chess set, a modern electronic chess device, or even digitally on your computer. Chess is a fascinating game with a long history. There are a lot of fascinating trivial facts about chess.

For starters, the first known Jeu d’échecs was probably Chaturanga, an Indian board game, which started some 5,000 years ago in what is now India. Similar to chess, chaturanga is a strategy game in which the goal is to capture the opponent’s king on a checkered or tiled board. However, there can be up to four players playing Chaturanga at once. Dice were utilised, along with “ships” and “chariots.” In addition, a player did not begin the game with as many pieces as a player does today. Chess and Chaturanga are remarkably similar, with the latter likely being the original form of the former, despite these distinctions.

Chess was first played in Europe by the Arabs, who also knew Persian at the time because they had conquered the powerful Persian empire. In fact, the chess term “check mate” comes from the Persian word “shah-mat,” which means “the king is defeated.” Chess is referred to as “the game of kings” with the pun intended because it was originally and for many centuries, exclusively a pastime for royalty and the exceedingly wealthy. The game of chess as we know it now historically incorporates the European Middle Ages into the Arab-invented game. The queen, king, bishop, rook, and knight were created at this time based on their Persian equivalents (the word “rook” comes from Arabic rukh meaning “chariot”—another piece of evidence for the probable Chaturanga-origins of chess.) However, it wasn’t until the Renaissance that the queen rose to prominence as the game’s most potent piece. It was also at this time that the pawns gained the ability to advance two squares on the first move. The Renaissance was a time of rapid progress and conquering, so these rule modifications were devised to speed up the game and give it more offensive. In addition, Renaissance queens were frequently more powerful than their mediaeval counterparts.

The Isle of Lewis chess set, which is the oldest known chess set still in existence, will captivate you if you enjoy hand-carved art and tradition and wooden chess sets in general. The aristocracy all appear to be in a poor or depressed mood, and the pawns resemble gravestones, representing the bleak outlook on the world that the majority of people held at that time, when genuine serfs (the pawns) were often dead by the age of 30 because life was so difficult and brutal for them. Actually, the pieces are carved from walrus tusks.

You are playing with mathematics whether you use a wooden chess set or an electronic one. In ancient India, the 64 squares stood for a sacred number. An astounding 10120 different chess games could possibly be played, according to estimates. The “Exchequer,” a royal tax collector and accounting office founded by the Normans when they conquered England, is led by the “Chancellor of the Exchequer,” so named because at one time a checkered fabric covered the table over which decisions were made. Eschec actually meant “chess” in Old French, whereas eschequier meant “counting table.”

Consider these amazing chess facts before purchasing a wooden or computerised chess set, and be motivated to learn more on your own!