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      >> Introduction to Chess

    Chess is a game of wits, which is governed by the moves of the players. It represents a mental warfare between two opposing players where the one with an agile mind and strength to succeed, wins this battle of minds. It is a board game played by two players, with one player having 16 black or dark color chess pieces and the other player having 16 white or light color chess pieces. The chess pieces have individual identities and can move only in a specified way. The ultimate objective of the game is to capture the opponent's king and with this the game ends.

    By and large it is believed chess appeared in India around 600 A.D., was adopted in Persia around 700 A.D., and was absorbed by Arab culture around 800 A.D. The Arab influence was responsible for its later introduction into other cultures.. Several interesting legends abound this fascinating game. One of the legend states that the wife of King Ravana invented the game 4000-5000 years ago.
    There is also a reference in the Bhavishya Purana about the game. Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, mentions the game of Chaturanga played between the two opposite sides of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The age when epic Mahabharata was written is dated around 800 BC to 1000 BC. Thus this game was known in India nearly 3000 years ago. H. J. R. Murry, in his work titled A History of Chess, has concluded that chess is a descendant of an Indian game played in the 7th century AD. The Encyclopedia Britannica states that we find the best authorities agreeing that chess existed in India before it was known to have been played anywhere else.

    The game was known as Chaturanga or Shaturanga in India. Chaturanga, a Sanskrit word, refers to the four branches of the army. It was played on a board of 64 squares consisting of four opposing players. Each of the players had a Raja (king), elephant or rook, horse or knight, a ship and four pawns. If at a throw 2 came, ship was moved, at 3 horse was moved, at 4 elephant was moved and at 5 King was moved. Gradually the two allied sides were combined to form two forces. The second Raja was made the Prime Minister and its movement was reduced to one square along the diagonal. Also the moves of the elephant and the ship were reordered.

    In Persia the word Shatranj is used for Chess. The first reference to Shatranj was found in the Persian work of 600 A.D. The period of the Persian Empire relevant to the origin of chess was known as the Sasanian dynasty or the Sassanid Empire. One chapter of the 'Shahnama' ('Book of Kings') describes how the Raja of Hind (India) had sent the game via an emissary to King Nushirwan of Persia. The game is also mentioned in the 'Karnamak' ('Book of Deeds'). Chess is also mentioned by the famous Persian poet Firdausi who records an incident where the gifts from an Indian king were sent to the court of Persian ruler. One of the gifts was a game depicting the battle between two armies. In the Sassanid dynasty a book 'Chatrang namakwor' or a 'A Manual of Chess' was written in the Persian Pahlavi language. In Persian the chess terms for king was Shah, for Prime Minister it was Firz, for elephant it was fil, for horse it was Faras, for ship it was Ruhk and for Pawan it was Baidaq. Around 8th century the game was carried to Spain and from there it spread to the rest of the world. The countries enthusiastically lapped up the game, however, variations occurred in the names of the chess pieces. The elephants became archers in Spain, Standard-Bearers in Italy, couriers in Germany, court jesters in France, and BSs in Portugal, England, Ireland and Iceland.