Who Invented The Game Of Chess?

the history and evolution of chess

The game of chess, also known as the game of kings, goes back hundreds of years. There has been much dispute over where it originated and who created the popular and well-loved game. Chess has a fascinating and complex history, and most people believe that it was not invented by just one person, but several individuals.

The intricate nature of the game has pushed this belief into people’s minds as it seems highly improbable that only one person could have created the varied and strategic game that is chess.

Chess Evolved As It Migrated From India To Europe

The history of chess was mostly documented by H. J. R. Murray, who had an interest in the foundation, cultures, and people that started the game. After doing much research, he eventually wrote a book titled, “A History of Chess” in 1913. The book gave insight into the possible location where chess originated--Northern India. It is documented in his book that chess eventually traveled its way through Persia and then into Asia, and once the Islamic Arabian empire grew, it progressed into Europe.

Strategic Games Like Chess In China Too

While the vast majority of people believe that chess originated in India, there are many who think it actually started in China. A popular story is that China had a great commander named Hán Xin, who created the game to simulate a well known battle during his time. However, the game was buried from memory over the years, and when it finally resurfaced, the rules had changed dramatically. By this time it was entirely different from the current game of chess and was known as “XiangQi”, or more commonly, “the elephant game”. Additionally, the board for the game was different, along with the pieces and rules.


A famous legend about how chess came into history tells that a tyrant king in India, who had little interest in the people that he ruled, was shown by a residential wise man that each resident in his kingdom was important. To display this, the legend goes that he started the game of chess by putting a king in the game, along with his queen and pawns. The wise man was trying to show the king that even the pawns played an important role, and the seemingly unimportant people that he ruled were vital for his kingdom to thrive and could usurp his power by their sheer number.

Modern Chess Draws From European Feudal Society

After surviving the 15th century of persecution by religious figures banning content, the rules of chess eventually tapered out into the game we know today, and eventually remained the same during the 1880’s. One commonly known game occurring in 1851 was between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Keiseritsky, and became known as the “Immortal Game”. In this scenario, nearly all Anderssen’s chessmen had been knocked out of play in order to checkmate the opponent’s king and win the game.

International Chess Tournaments And Consistent Rules In The 1880's

After many years of gaining more popularity for those attracted to the strategy of the game, there eventually followed tournaments for avid chess players to compete in. The first World Champion of chess was a man named Wilhelm Steinitz in 1886, and soon after chess tournaments became a common occurrence. While in the past, chess was a game mostly used by the wealthy or privileged, in time it became a fun recreational pastime for those of all classes. When the technological age of the 20th century kicked in, chess could be played online and on chess sites.
Overall, there is no one person who invented chess, as it was a collection of individuals strategizing new rules and tactics within the ever changing evolution of the game.

Chess Becomes An Important Measure Of Modern AI

For hundreds of years, chess prowess has been recognized as a measure of mental ability to create a perfect strategy. As computer technology and artificial intelligence continues to evolve, it is no surprise then that chess is being used as a measure of man vs machine.

This process started all the way back in 1956 when a computer became the first to defeat a human opponent using the MANIAC computer at Los Alamos Scientific Library. Matches continue to evolve with the best computers and artificial intelligence technology facing off against the best human competitors. Despite massively improved technological development since the 1950s humans aren't out of the game entirely.

However, when the top computers go head to head against the top human grand masters, it is clear that the virtually limitless processing power that modern computers offer makes it virtually impossible for human opponents to succeed. As such, it isn't a surprise that no human has beaten a computer in a top chess tournament in more than 15 years.

That doesn't mean that the game is over though, chess is a great tool to continue refining human-like artificial intelligence and decision making and so the new challenge is to train computers to play more like humans and as such, create an enjoyable and challenging environment to push human ability.

One example of this is the chess engine Komodo that is among the most popular options for chess players to test their skills.

The Origins Of Chess Will Continue To Be Debated

There will always be a debate on the official origin of chess, and about who created it and the original location where it had its beginnings. However, other than educated hypotheses, historical trends, and documentation of the game, there is no exact answer to who invented chess. All we can do is appreciate the many legends, myths, and stories about how chess became a favorite for those who love a good game of strategy.

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