Chess history and a full explanation

Chess is a competitive game that is usually played between two people.It is sometimes called "international" or "Western" chess. The current form of the game emerged in the southern part of Europe during the second half of the fifteenth century. Nowadays, chess is one of the world’s most popular games.

Humble Beginnings

The game of chess has been attributed both by the Arabs and the Persian people to the Indians. Chess then spread throughout the world, and several variants of chess soon began to take form. Chess was introduced to the Near East from India and eventually became part of the courtly and princely education of the Persian nobility. It is also known that the Silk Road traders, Buddhist pilgrims, and others carried the game to the Far East, where it was assimilated and transformed into a game played on the intersection of lines of the board rather than within the squares.

Chess history and a full explanation
Chess history and a full explanation

The game Chaturanga reached Europe through the Byzantine and Arabian empires, and Persia. By the tenth century, the Muslims had carried the chess game to Sicily, North Africa, and Spain.

Later on, chess was extensively developed in Europe during the late fifteenth century. Fortunately, the game survived a series of prohibitions and sanctions by the Christian Church.

When the game arrived in Europe, it attained a social value and was seen as a prestigious pastime associated with high culture and nobility. This status of the game explains the exquisite and expensively made chessboards during the medieval era. The popularity of the game in Western society peaked during the twelfth and fifteenth centuries.

Eventually, chess was incorporated into the knightly lifestyle in Europe. In fact, Peter Alfonsi mentioned in one of his books that chess is one of the seven skills required by an individual to be a good knight. Also, the game became a subject of art during the period. There are several monarchs, like Queen Margaret of England, who symbolized chess in the royal art treasures through jasper and crystal chess sets.

The Rise of Modern Chess

During the years 1834 and 1851, cutthroat chess became noticeable through the London Chess tournaments, which also raised concern regarding the time taken by players to move their pieces. It was realized that the players normally took hours to analyze the moves, and one almost took two hours and twenty minutes to think over a single move during the tournament.

Fortunately, the development of speed chess was seen during the following years, when the most popular variant is five-minute chess. There is also a final variant that allows a player who has made the predetermined number of moves in the agreed time to receive an extra time budget for his or her next moves.

It was not until 1861 that the first time limits, through the use of sandglasses, were used in a tournament at Bristol. Later on, the sandglasses were replaced by pendulums. During the turn of the 19th century, a tiny latch, also known as a flag, helped settle arguments over the players' exceeding time limits.

Also in the 19th century, position analysis became popular. There is even a Russian composer by the name of Vladimir Korolkov who created the "Excelsior", which states that the White side wins only by creating six consecutive captures of a pawn. Later, several analysts emerge, including Vasily Smyslov, Jan Timman, and Mikhail Botvinnik.

Chess Rules in the Past and Present

Chess Rules in the Past and Present
Chess Rules in the Past and Present
The exact origins of chess are still unclear, though others believe that the game was based on the Indian Chaturanga, which literally means "four" and "arm". The ancient "chess" game used pieces that are slightly similar to modern chess, as well as movements. However, the rules of such a game are yet to be clarified.

In every game, there are rules, and chess is not an exception. In fact, there are several rules that govern both the competitive and recreational games. However, the question really is, where did the rules come from and how were they developed?

Early Chess Rules

During the 16th century, the rules of modern chess took form in Italy. Since then, the rules of the game have evolved continuously. Going back centuries in the past, before the modern rules even took form in Italy, chess was played very slowly, with some games lasting for several days. There are other variations of the rules that began to change the shape of the game during the 1300s. The most notable, though originally unpopular, change in the rules was the ability of the pawn to move two squares during the first move instead of one.

After 1475 A.D., there were new modifications in the rules that further led to the evolution of the game. For instance, the queen was introduced and made a powerful new piece. This eventually resulted in the addition of value to the previously considered minor tactic known as pawn promotion.

In Chaturanga, the war elephant has also evolved into the bishop, thus providing more range. The noticeable changes in the rules also gave way to the rise of figures that are "unwarlike". Eventually, chess moved closer to the court and ordinary households due to the departure of pure military symbolism from the game, which was noticeably prevalent in India and Persia.

The Rise of the Modern Chess Rules

Specifically, a new set of rules for the game emerged during the Middle Ages.Within this principle, both the rook and the king acquire the privilege to castle, which is a variation of the move called "castling. Since the pawns were given the chance to move two squares during the first move, the en passant rule was consequential. Furthermore, the pawns gained the capability to be promoted to a higher rank if they were able to reach the eighth rank.

Aside from those rules, there are other three guidelines that were introduced, which eventually changed over the years. Firstly, there was the stalemate rule that forever changed the outcome of chess games several times. Secondly, the threefold repetition was also added. Lastly, the fifty-move rule was also added, in which a draw can be claimed if there has been no obvious pawn movement and capture of any piece during the last fifty moves.

Since then, the rules of the chess game have been slightly altered until the early 19th century, during which the game reached its current form. Nowadays, the fundamental chess rules are widely accepted among both international and national chess governing bodies, like the USCF, or the United States Chess Federation, and ules are widely accepted among both international and national chess governing bodies, like the USCF, or the United States Chess Federation, and FIDE, or the World Chess Federation.

However, even if the rules of the chess game have evolved, the basic objective of the game remains the same to threaten the opponent’s most valuable piece, the king, with a checkmate.

Governing the Game Play—The World Chess Federation

Governing the Game Play—The World Chess Federation
Governing the Game Play—The World Chess Federation
In every game, there is a governing body aimed at the maintenance and regulation of the rules encompassing the game. In chess, one of the governing bodies is the FIDE, or Federation Internationale des Echecs, most commonly known as the World Chess Federation. Organizations, such as FIDE, were not the first to document the rules of chess. It was as early as 1497, when a man named Luis Ramirez de Lucena authored a book regarding chess rules.

However, the popularity of chess quickly rose, and soon tournaments and clubs were sprouting everywhere. This event called for the standardization of the rules, and that is the main role of the governing body.

The Founding of FIDE

The World Chess Federation was formed on July 24, 1924, in Paris, France, with the motto "Gens una sumus", meaning "We are one people". Originally, their first action to form an international federation for chess started in April of 1914 at St. Petersburg. Another attempt was made in the Mannheim International Chess Tournament in July of 1914. At the Gothenburg Tournament, another attempt was made for the establishment of an international chess federation.

It wasn't until 1922 that the then-champion chess player

He announced that the French Chess Federation would host an international chess tournament at which he would be participating in Paris. Finally, the participants of the Paris chess tournament founded the World Chess Federation, or FIDE, on July 20, 1924, originally as a union between chess players.

Later, the FIDE held several congresses, which addressed a variety of issues concerning both the federation and chess.The 1925 and 1926 FIDE congresses were aimed at the desire to become involved in the management of world chess championships. During those years, they gladly adapted the London Rules for chess tournaments.

During the third congress in 1926, the federation decided to organize a chess Olympiad. However, since most of the invitations were sent late, only four countries participated, including Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Germany.

By the year 1927, the FIDE had begun organizing the First Chess Olympiad; this was also the fourth congress, which was held in London. Several titles had been considered, such as the World Team Championship and the Tournament of Nations. However, only the name "Chess Olympiad" became the most popular title of the tournament.

Finally, during the year 1948, the FIDE specified the procedure as to how challengers for the World Championship would be selected, specifically in a three-year cycle. First, affiliated countries would let players compete at Zonal Tournaments, and those that topped the tournament would enter Interzonal events. Players who placed highly in those events would qualify for the Candidates Tournament, together with whoever lost the previous match for the title and the second-place competitor.

FIDE Today

During the 1970s, Max Euwe, then the president of FIDE, strove to increase the number of member countries in FIDE. The movement spearheaded by Max Euwe eventually led to the 158 member nations of FIDE.

It was in the year 1999 when the World Chess Federation was recognized by the IOC, or the International Olympic Committee. Two years after that, the federation introduced the committee’s anti-drugs rules to chess as part of their campaign for the game to become a part of the Olympic Games.

Legendary Chess Greats

Legendary Chess Greats
Legendary Chess Greats
A game is not going to be memorable without its respectable and great players. Over the course of time, chess has produced some of the brightest minds in board games. The discovery of these players was all thanks to several international events organized by the chess society. Several rankings are even used to determine the quality and standing of the players, which makes them even more popular with both those who play chess and those who simply admire the game.

The Rankings and Titles of Chess Players

Initiated by FIDE, the best players are awarded specific titles. Firstly, the Grandmaster, also known as the International Grandmaster, is usually awarded to world-class masters of chess. This title, apart from the World Champion, is the highest title that a chess player can achieve. However, before FIDE gives this title to a player, he must have a rating of at least 2,500 at one time in the Elo chess rating. More so, the player must also have three favorable results in competitions involving other grandmasters, including those masters from countries apart from the applicant’s.

Next is the International Master. With a minimum rating of 2,400, the International Master has the same conditions as the Grand Master and is also less demanding. The FIDE Master is usually gained by players who have achieved a FIDE Rating of equal to or more than 2,300. The CM, or Candidate Master, on the other hand, is awarded to those who have a FIDE rating of at least 2,200.

These titles are open to both men and women. There are also separate women-only titles, like The Woman Grandmaster, available.

Composers and solvers of chess problems are also awarded with international titles. Additionally, national chess organizations can also award titles generally to advanced players who are still under the level required for international titles.

Some of the Best Chess Players of All Time

Capablanca was probably one of the greatest natural talents of all time, but Capablanca was sometimes extremely lazy and refused to read chess textbooks. Still, he made considerable contributions to the opening theory. He managed to score 318 wins, 249 draws, and 34 losses in matches and tournaments played between 1909 and 1939. Capablanca was known for his ability to accurately and instantly evaluate chess positions. Additionally, he liked to control the position and focus on elements that he felt were necessary to gain victory.

Kasparov was considered the greatest tactician of all time. He was the world champion title holder for 15 years. He held the title from 1985 to 2000, when he was beaten by Kramnik. However, he dominated major tournaments from the beginning of his reign as world champion until 2001. He was known to have the ability to see everything in all positions. Moreover, he was also exuberant and had a photographic memory.

On three separate occasions, Botvinik is the only player to hold the world title. He was also a scientist, which is a profession that usually showed through his playing style. The style used by Botvinik was to make closed positions by flank maneuvers and movements.

Steinitz is known for his many bizarre chess positions, which made him an unpredictable and dynamic adversary. It was also believed that, over the course of twenty years, he stood higher above his contemporaries than any other master. He had the best tournament record up to his defeat in the world championship event in 1894. His greatest asset in chess games was his flexibility as a master of tactical and positional strategies.

Xiangqi (Chinese Chess)

Xiangqi (Chinese Chess)
Xiangqi (Chinese Chess)
The Xiangqi falls under the same family as the Chaturanga, Shogi, Janggi and Western chess. This is a two-player chess game that originated in China and is commonly known as Chinese chess.

Xiangqi is one of the most popular board games in the world. The features unique to the game are the movement of the pao, or cannon piece, the rules prohibiting the generals, or chess kings, from directly facing each other, and the place and river features that restrict the movement of some pieces.

History of Xiangqi

The game has a long history, though its accurate origin has not been definitely confirmed. However, earliest indications reveal that Xiangqi may have been played during the 4th century B.C. by the Lord of Mengchang, Tian Wen.

The word Xiangqi can mean "figure game," which can be treated as a "constellation game". The boards used for the game are also called the "heavenly river", which may mean the Milky Way. More so, the early versions of the game have been based on the movements of the objects in the sky.

During the Song Dynasty, the game took three forms. One of the forms consisted of thirty-two pieces, which were played on a board consisting of nine horizontal and nine vertical lines. Additionally, the most popular board used during those days was the one without the river borderline.

When the Qing Dynasty entered, economic and cultural progress gave way to the new stage of Xiangqi. There are different schools of players and circles that came into prominence. Along with the popularity of the game, a number of manuals and books regarding the techniques of playing the game were also published. These publications played a vital role in popularizing Xiangqi and improving the techniques used in modern times.

How to play xiangqi chinese chess : Xiangqi Rules

 The board used in Xiangqi is nine lines wide and ten lines long. The pieces are played on the intersections or points. Files is the term used for the vertical lines, while 'ranks' are for the horizontal lines. Xiangqi can also be played with a standard chess set, with a few modifications.

Two players control pieces located on either side of the river. The pieces are also painted in red, while the other player's are in black. The rules regarding who moves first are varied throughout history and also from one part of China to another. There are books stating that the black moves first, though others indicate that the red should move first. Moreover, there are other books referring to the two sides as north and south.

The General is the equivalent of the King used in Western chess. Much like in modern chess, when the general is threatened by an enemy piece, it is "in check". Additionally, it can be checkmated when it is unable to escape a check from an opponent.

The Guard or Advisor is the equivalent of the Queen since most of their powers are similar to those of the Western chess piece. The War Elephant or Minister moves two points diagonally and cannot cross rivers, thus they usually serve as defensive pieces.

The horse or cavalry begins the game next to the elephants and moves one point horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. The chariot or rook can move at any distance, either horizontally or vertically. The movement of the cannon or catapult is similar to the chariot but can be captured by jumping in one piece over its target. Lastly, the Private or Soldier can move and capture by advancing one point, similar to the pawns.

Chaturanga is an Indian chess game.

Chaturanga is an Indian chess game.
Chess, as we all know, is a recreational and competitive sport played between two players. Nowadays, it is sometimes referred to as "international chess" or "Western chess," which is actually used to distinguish it from its predecessors and other variants. More so, chess is one of the world’s most popular games, played by millions of people in clubs, online, tournaments, and informally.

However, where did chess actually begin? Who were the first people ever to invent this intellectual sport, and what was its original purpose? The chess game was thought to have originated in India or Afghanistan before 600 A.D. However, there are several unverified claims stating that the game existed as early as 100 A.D.

The Chaturanga

The chess game has been attributed to the Indians by both the Arabs and the Persian people. However, the main origin of the sport has been lost in antiquity. Chess in Old Persian and Arabic is "chatrang" and "shatranj" respectively. Both of these terms are derived from the Sanskrit word "Chaturanga". Literally, the word Chaturanga means the army of four divisions, constituting the cavalry, infantry, elephant, and chariots, which are now being respectively represented by the knight, pawn, bishop, and rook.

Aside from chess, Chaturanga is also presumed to be the common origin of the Japanese shogi, the Thai makruk, the Chinese xiangqi and the Korean janggi. The game has been played since the early 6th century or probably earlier, and hence it is believed to be the most common and oldest version of chess.

As previously mentioned, Chaturanga consists of the cavalry, chariots, elephants, and infantry, which reflects the four divisions of the army in ancient India. These are additional units besides the king and his general or counselor in the center. The infantry is represented by the line of advancing pawns. Located near the center of the army are war elephants. The horse, with a flanking horse move, is represented by the mounted cavalry and the chariots or ships, which move hastily and in linear fashion.

Chaturanga was originally played on an eight-by-eight uncheckered board, also known as the Ashtapada. Additionally, the board has markers that have meanings that are still unknown today. These special markers, however, are not related to Chaturanga and were drawn solely by tradition.Murray, a renowned chess historian, speculated that the board was also used for other dice-type games, in which the markers it contained had meanings.

The Rules of Chaturanga

The exact rules of Chaturanga are yet to be known. However, several chess historians believe that the game has similar rules to Shatranj, which is its direct descendant. By using the rules of Shatranj, the movements of the Chaturanga pieces can be mapped out.

The Raja, or King, moves like the King in modern chess. The Senapati, or General, also known as the Mantri, or Counselor, moves diagonally, occupying only a single square. Like the rook in modern chess, the Ratha or Chariot moves on straight lines, either horizontally or vertically.

As for the Gaja, or elephant, there are three possible moves that the piece makes, such as: two squares diagonally, one square diagonally or forward, and two squares orthogonally.

The Horse of Ashva moves like a knight. Foot soldiers, or the Pedati or Bhata, are similar to the pawns of modern chess.

The Japanese Chess Shogi

The Japanese Chess Shogi
The Japanese Chess Shogi
In Japan, the most popular variant of chess is Shogi. The game was transmitted from India to Korea and China before arriving in Japan. There are two distinguishing characteristics of Shogi, such as: the captured pieces can be utilized by the captor and played as part of the captor’s forces; and pawns can capture pieces normally, which is one square straight ahead.

A History of the Game

It is believed that Shogi is derived from Chaturanga, which was played in Ancient India and eventually spread throughout Eurasia. It is still not clear when Shogi was brought to Japan.

Several theories regarding the spread of Shogi show that the game probably became popular during the 6th century. Back then, the pieces were not the current five-sided pieces but rather three-dimensional, similar to the Chaturanga pieces.

One of the oldest documents specifying the existence of Shogi is the Kirinsho, which is a seven-volume work that contains descriptions of how to write characters for the pieces used in Shogi games. During the Heian period, the Shogi pieces used consisted of the king, silver general, gold general, lance, knight, and pawn.

The Rules of Shogi

Technically, Shogi is won when the king is captured, but there are also circumstances where the defeat is conceded when the mate becomes inevitable. As for the equipment of the game, the two players play on a board, which is composed of squares in a grid containing nine ranks by nine files. The squares are also not undifferentiated by color or marking.

The players have a set of twenty pieces, slightly different in sizes. The pieces include a rook, bishop, king, two pieces of gold generals, two silver generals, two lances, two knights, and nine pieces of pawns.

The several names are chosen to correspond to their rough equivalents in international chess. Each of the pieces has its name written on its surface in the form of Japanese characters, called kanji. On the other hand, on the back of the piece are one or two characters that, when turned face up, indicate promotion. The pieces controlled by the two players also do not differ in color; instead, they face forward, toward the opposing side.

For English-speaking players, the promoted bishops are referred to as horses, while promoted rooks are called dragons. The characters on the other side of the pieces may also be in red ink, usually written in a cursive manner.

There are also rankings used in shogi. These rankings are also used in karate, calligraphy, and other arts in Japan.

For the placement of the pieces, the king is placed in the center file. The gold generals are adjacent to the king, while the silver ones are placed adjacent to the gold generals. The knights are located beside the two silver generals, and the lances are situated in the corners. As for the second rank, the bishops are on the same file as the left knight, while the rook is on the same file as the knight located on the right.

Like in other chess games, each player takes turns moving pieces. The player who first captures the opponent’s king wins the game. However, this rarely happens in practice since most players will concede defeat when the loss is inevitable. Furthermore, in amateur and professional games, any player who makes an illegal move loses automatically.

The Persian Chess Shatranj is

The Persian Chess Shatranj
The Persian Chess Shatranj
Shatranj is the direct descendant of Chaturanga and has become popular in the Middle East and Persia for almost 1000 years. Modern chess is also believed to have gradually developed from Shatranj.

The term Shatranj was derived from the Sanskrit Chaturanga, where chatu means four and anga means arm. The game also came to Persia from India during the early centuries of the Christian era. One of the earliest references to chess found in Persia is the book "Karnamak-i Artaxshir-i Papakan", which was written around the 3rd to 7th century.

The game Shatranj adapted many of the rules of Chaturanga, including the basic sixteen-piece structure. However, in later variants of the game, the darker squares were eventually engraved. The Shatranj also spread westward and achieved popularity and a body of literature on game strategy and tactics from the 8th century and onward.

The Rules of Shatranj

Initially, the setup of the game was the same as modern chess, although the position of the king of white, Shah, on the left or right side was not entirely established. Shatranj is played using pieces, such as: the king or shah, the rukh or rook, the fers or counselor, the pill or elephant, the faras or horse, and the baidak or pawns.

Almost all the movements of the Shatranj pieces are similar to those of modern chess, with the exception of the two square movements of the pawn during the first move. There are also other differences between Shatranj and modern chess, such as the use of castling, which was not allowed but later invented. In the event of stalemating, the opposing king will result in a win. Moreover, if a player captures the entire opponent’s pieces apart from the king, that player will normally be declared the winner. However, if the opponent could capture the last piece on the next move, the game would result in a draw.

The game play of Shatranj includes the openings. These were usually called tabbiyya, or battle array, when translated. However, due to the slow piece progress in the game, the precise sequence of moves was unimportant. Instead, the players aimed to reach a specific position, mostly ignoring the play of their opponents.

Additionally, the pieces used for Shatranj had values, which used a monetary system. Such values include: one dirhem for the rook; two-third dirhem for the knight; one-fourth dirhem for the alfil; one-third to three-eighth dirhem for the fers; one-fourth dirhem for the central pawn; one-sixth to one-fifth dirhem for the alfil’s or knight’s pawn; and one-eighth dirhem for the rook’s pawn.

These values were established and estimated by as-Suli, who was the strongest Shantranj player during the reign of al-Muktafi Caliph and al-Adli.

The Early Beginnings of Shatranj

There are several works written about Shatranj during the Golden Age of Arabic. These recorded the analysis of opening games, knight’s tours, chess problems, and other subjects that are commonly found in modern chess books.

Shatranj players who have the highest class are also called grandees or aliyat. There were only a few players that fell under this category, and the most well known are: Abun-Naam, Rabrab, and Jabir al-Kulfi, who were the three aliyat players during the al-Ma’mun Caliph rule; Al-Lajlaj, who was a great master of Shatranj; and Ar-Razi, who won 847 games against powerful Shatranj opponents.

The World Chess Championship: Separating Pros from Amateurs

The World Chess Championship: Separating Pros from Amateurs
The World Chess Championship: Separating Pros from Amateurs
The World Chess Championship is an event used to determine the world champion in chess games. The event allows both eligible men and women to compete for the title. There is also a separate event for women, where players vie for the title of Women’s Chess Champion. For several years, the World Chess Championship has produced a number of world champions.

Birth of the Championship

Although it was believed that the official world championship was held in the year 1886, where two leading players of chess played a match, those events were held on an informal basis. It was not until the year 1943 when FIDE, an international chess organization, started administering world championships.

Going back to 1886, there were several unofficial champions that started with Wilhelm Steinitz; Wilhelm competed against Johannes Zukertort. However, there were several other players who were regarded as the strongest and most famous in the world that extended back hundreds of years beyond the two. These players were also considered world champions during their time and included Ruy Lopez de Segura, Paolo Boi, Leonardo da Cutri, Alessandro Salvio, and Gioachino Greco.

In the remainder of the nineteenth century, world championships were held on an informal basis. The matches were initiated by players who would look for financial backing for a match purse and challenge the reigning world champion; whoever beat the reigning champion would be the new world champion. The systems had no formal qualification procedures. Still, this old tournament system produced several world champions who were the strongest of their day.

FIDE-controlled events started during the year 1948, when the reigning champion, Alexander Alekhine, died and threw the chess world into chaos. Because of his death, the informal system was not suitable enough to find methods of producing a new world champion since there was no one to challenge.

During that time, the Soviet Union, regarded as the most powerful chess nation at the time, joined FIDE to participate in the selection of a new world champion.The FIDE organized matches in the year 1948 between five of the world’s strongest players, namely Vaisly Smyslov, Mikhail Botvinnik, Paul Keres, Max Euwe, and Samuel Reshevsky. Mikhail Mikhail won the tournament and was declared the new world champion. FIDE then continued to organize world championships thereafter.

The System for the World Championship

Because the informal system was not suitable enough to be used for untimely events like the player’s death, a new system was introduced to determine how a player can qualify for the world champion title. The new system starts with the world’s strongest players being seeded into interzonal tournaments. Eventually, the players would be joined by other players who had qualified from several zonal tournaments. The leading finishers of the interzonal tournaments would qualify for the Candidates event, which was originally a tournament and later transformed into a series of knock-out competitions. The player who won the Candidates tournament would qualify for a match with the reigning champion for the championship title.

If the reigning champion loses the matches, he will be given the chance to play in a three-way event three years later. The event would include the former champion, his new successor, and the next challenger, who is qualified to challenge the new world champion. Currently, the world champion title is being held by a player named Viswanathan Anand, who won the World Chess Championship in 2007.

Tools of the Trade: Chess Equipment

Chess is not complete without its gears. Over the years, little has changed in the equipment used for chess games. The board and pieces, with the exception of the rules, have remained slightly similar to their predecessors. However, the trend of designing chess sets has been practiced for several centuries. Themes from different sources, be it literature, movies, or popular culture, were used to design the board and pieces used for chess games.

The Chess Sets

The Chess Sets
The Chess Sets
There are several variations of designs for chess sets. Basically, chess pieces used for the game are figurines that are taller than they are wide. They are also available in an array of designs. However, probably the most popular design is the Staunton design, named after Howard Staunton, the 19th century English chess player. Staunton designs were created by Nathaniel Cook.

Staunton style chess sets were first seen in 1849 and were created by Jaques of London. Since then, the Staunton designs have been considered the standard design used for actual chess games.

The demand for the universal model of chess pieces was renewed during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. During those times, chess was beginning to become popular and gain interest, particularly in international plays. The styles and varieties of the conventional form started in the 15th century and had expanded by the beginning of the 19th century.

During that period, some of the most popular conventional styles and chess sets were the English Barleycorn, the French Regence, the St. George, and the Central European Selenus. Most of the pieces used were tall, cumbersome during chess games, and easily tipped. However, the major disadvantage of such chess sets was the uniformity of the pieces. The game’s outcome could be altered due to the player’s unfamiliarity with the opponent’s pieces.

The Staunton Chess Set

The early 19th century called for the need for a standard chess set with pieces that were universally accepted by chess players of different backgrounds. The first solution to the problem was released in 1849 by John Jaques of London, which was then the games and sports manufacturers of Hatton Garden, London, England. Although Nathaniel Cook was credited with the Staunton design, it was believed that his brother-in-law, John Jaques, conceived the design.

The Staunton chess design underwent several theories. Firstly, the development of the set has utilized prestigious architectural concepts. The architects of London were influenced by the neoclassical style of the Romans and Greeks, and the appearance of the new chessmen was based on this style, and the piece achieved what seemed to be symbols of Victorian society.

The second theory involved Jaques experimenting with a design that would not only be accepted by the players but could also be produced at an affordable price. Eventually, Jaques synthesized and borrowed several elements from pre-existing sets to create a new design that used universally acknowledged symbols atop the usual stems and bases. More so, the pieces were compact, well-balanced, and weighted to give a set that was as understandable as it was useful.

In the third theory, the Staunton design was the combination of both theories with the synergy of Nathaniel Cook and the artisan John Jaques.

The design was then patented on March 1, 1849, when Nathaniel Cook registered the Ornamental Design for Chessmen. Before that date, there was no provision for the registration of any design in ivory and it was only limited to articles chiefly made of wood.

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Mira Sandra
Mira Sandra I am Mira Sandra. A blogger, YouTuber, trader, and owner of the blog Starting to know online business since 2014 and continue to learn about internet business until now. Currently active as a trader and content writer at

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