Friday, January 9, 2015


It is believed that there was an ancient Indian game called Chaturanga which literally means "having four limbs (or parts)" and in epic poetry often means "army"  having  four parts- elephants, chariots, horsemen, foot soldiers. The name came from a battle formation mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata.

The game chaturanga was a battle-simulation game which rendered Indian military strategy of the time and it is believed that modern Chess evolved from it. The history of chess is about 1500 years old. 

The earliest predecessor of the game probably originated in India, before the 6th century AD; some historians believe the game originated in China. From India, the game spread to Persia. When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently spread to Southern Europe. In Europe, chess evolved into roughly its current form in the 15th century.

But how this game was invented is still a question. So let us have a look over this.
 It is believed that there was a king, Shihram, ruled over India long years ago. He was a despot. He called a mathematician in his court and ordered him to design a game that was more challenging and interesting and used a lot of brain tactics. 

After struggling a lot of months with all kinds of ideas, the mathematician came up with the game of “Chaturanga” to show the king how important everybody is, who lives in his kingdom, even the smallest among them was the part of the game.

 The game had two armies each lead by a King who commanded the army to defeat the other by capturing the enemy King. It was played on a simple 8x8 square board. The King liked this game so much that he offered to give the poor mathematician anything he wished for.

The mathematician asked the king to give him grain of wheat in a way one grain on first square of board, double of it on second square of board, double of second on third square of board and so on till 64th square of board.

The king became angry and shouted, "I have offered you all my treasures and you want just wheat? You can take gold or silver and can have rich and luxurious life but you are insulting me asking for some grains of wheat.”

"Oh no!" said the man. "I don't want to insult you, my king. Please respect my wish and you will see that my wish is truly great."

The king called his servants and ordered to put the wheat on the chess board exactly as the mathematician wished. The servants brought a lot of wheat. It soon filled many rooms but they realized that they could not fulfill the wise man's wish.

All the wealth in his kingdom would not be enough to buy the amount of wheat needed on the 64th square. In fact the whole kingdoms supply of wheat was exhausted before the 30th square was reached.

The king realized that the wise man had given him a lesson again. He learned that you should never underestimate the small things in life.

The chess board has 64 squares and if you put just one grain on the first and double up on the next and so on, you will reach an enormous amount of grain.

1 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 on the 64th square and
18,446,744,073,709,551,615 total for the whole board

That's about 18 billion billion. So if a bag of rice contained a billion grains, you would need 18 billion such bags.

In China, Chaturanga was transformed into the game ”xiangqi” where the pieces are placed on the intersection of the lines of the board rather than within the squares. The object of the Chinese variation is similar to chaturanga, i.e. to render helpless the opponent's king, known as "general" on one side and "governor" on the other. 

Chinese chess also borrows elements from the game of Go, which was played in China since at least the 6th century BC. Owing to the influence of Go, Chinese chess is played on the intersections of the lines on the board, rather than in the squares. The game of Xianqi is also unique in that the middle rank represents a river, and is not divided into squares. Chinese chess pieces are usually flat and resemble those used in checkers, with pieces differentiated by writing their names on the flat surface.

A prominent variant of chess can be seen in East Asia in the game of “shogi”, transmitted from India to China and Korea before finally reaching Japan. The three distinguishing features of shogi are:
1. The captured pieces may be reused by the captor and played as a part of the captor's forces.
2.  Pawns capture as they move, one square straight ahead.
3.  9×9 square board was used, with a second queen (called a gold general) on the other side of the king.

This way chess went on spreading to other countries also but it was during the second half of the 19th century that modern chess tournament play began, and the first World Chess Championship was held in 1886. The 20th century saw great leaps forward in chess theory and the establishment of the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

No comments:

Post a Comment