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Who invented Chess? It’s Origin and History

Written By Light

Last updated May 24, 2023

Who invented Chess? It’s Origin and History

by | Board Games, Chess, Games | 0 comments

Chess, often referred to as the ‘Game of Kings,’ has captivated minds worldwide for centuries. Its origins, while not entirely clear, are shrouded in historical anecdotes, theories, and myths. Here’s a brief overview of what we know about the origin and history of this intricate and timeless game.

Who Invented Chess?

To answer the question of who invented chess, we must travel back in time to a period when records were not as meticulously kept as today. Chess is believed to have originated in Northern India during the Gupta Empire (around the 6th century AD). The game was then known as ‘Chaturanga,’ which translates to ‘four divisions of the military’ – infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariotry, represented by pawn, knight, bishop, and rook respectively.

As with most ancient history, the exact individual who invented chess is unknown. It’s likely the game was the result of a gradual evolution of similar strategy games prevalent at the time, morphing into the form we now recognize as chess.

Evolution and Spread of the Game

Chaturanga travelled to Persia, where it was adapted and renamed ‘Shatranj.’ With the Islamic conquest of Persia, the Muslims took up the game and it spread across the Islamic Caliphate, reaching as far as Spain to the west and China to the east.

The rules of Shatranj were modified somewhat from its Chaturanga predecessor, and the pieces began to take on the forms we currently recognize: the chariots became rooks, the infantry became pawns, the cavalry became knights, and the elephants transformed into bishops.

Arrival in Europe and Further Development

Chess arrived in Europe through multiple routes, both via the Islamic conquest of Spain, and through trade routes in Russia. By the end of the 15th century, the game had evolved into the version we play today, a version known as “modern” or “western” chess. Major changes included the powers of the queen and bishop becoming more pronounced, reflecting their increased importance in the game.

The game was also standardized during this time. The first world chess championship was held in 1886, marking the start of competitive international chess as we know it.

Impact and Importance of Chess

From its origins in 6th century India, chess has had a profound influence on societies around the world. The game was often used by nobility to teach war strategy and was considered a mark of the aristocracy in various cultures. In the modern era, chess remains a popular pastime and competitive game, played by millions worldwide. It’s celebrated not only as a game but as an educational tool, demonstrating key principles of strategy, planning, and tactics.


The history of chess, while multi-faceted and complex, shows its enduring appeal. Chess, as we know it today, is a product of centuries of evolution and cultural exchange. The origins may be murky, but there’s no denying the impact this game has had on our world, providing a universal language of strategy and intellect across all cultures.

While we may never know the name of the individual who first invented chess, we can all appreciate the depth, complexity, and enduring appeal of this game that truly stands the test of time.

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