Chess has been around for a long time, but it has been a challenge to pinpoint when it exactly started. Generally, it is accepted that the game was developed in India around 600 AD by a ruler who wanted his children to think more strategically and become stronger generals in his army. The game had four divisions that represented infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots; the what we now know as pawns, knights, bishops and rooks.

Persia was then introduced to the game, and their influence included adding the phrases for “King” and “Check”. Chess was then brought to Europe by the Moors in the 10th Century AD and began to spread across Europe where it remained a very similar game to the original.

As the Renaissance progressed, the rules of chess began to change and the game became quicker.  The king could jump once, the queen’s moves became more available, and allowed the promotion of pawns upon reaching the other side of the board. Another change allowed the pawns to initially move forward two spaces, allowing for the en passant rule to be introduced.

The new rules allowed the game to move from a slow pace to a faster one, the opening moves were more rapid and filled with attacks, although there was an increased amount of draws with the game because of the changes. The original game  was won in three different ways: by mating the king, by giving stalemate, or by capturing all the enemy pieces, allowing a clear winner. The new version of chess could only be won by mating the king or by the resignation of the opposing player.

This allowed for the majority of games to end with a clear winner or loser. The new European version of chess could only be won by mating the king or by the resignation of the opposing player. These conditions of victory increased the likelihood of draws as well as the necessity and viability of specific strategies and tactics that could be studied and shared.

New routes through China and Japan brought the game there, changing the the game to Xiangqi in China and Shogi in Japan. With distinct rules such as the placement of pieces on lines instead of inside squares, as well as a limited box for the movement of the general (equivalent of the king), Xiangqi has maintained its own popularity throughout the years and is still played today.

The chess variant Shogi in Japan also diverged towards interesting rules, as captured pieces could be returned to the board to fight for the opposing side.

As chess rose in popularity, professional play was introduced. The first tournament took place in London in 1851, with the world championship debuting in 1886. In the 20th century, the style of chess play evolved greatly as strategies and tactics were further modernized. FIDE (the World Chess Federation) was was established in 1924 and continues today with world championships to determine the best chess players in the world.

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