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Home > Origin of Chess
Origin of Chess
History of Chess
How chess was born - an interesting tale about the origin of Chess

When a Chess board without pawns, baffled a King.
Chess has its origins in ancient India; It was called Chaturanga referring to the four arms or divisions which formed the typical Indian army in Vedic times: elephants, cavalry, chariots, and infantry. This much, every school going kid, with some inclination towards GK knows. How where and why has no concrete answers, but an interesting tale which states the origin of the game, is surely worthy of a read, so what if it is not a proved historical fact?

In ancient India, there was great concern about the prevalence of gambling games using dice. A great number of his people were playing for high stakes and becoming addicted to these games of pure luck.

One day the Indian King Balhait summoned Sissa, a Brahmin known for his high analytical repute and requested him to create a game which would require pure mental skill and would hence oppose the teaching of games in which luck decides the outcome by the throw of dice. Moreover, the king requested that this new game should also have the ability to enhance the mental qualities of prudence, foresight, valour, judgment, endurance, and analytical and reasoning ability.

ashtapada Sissa invented a wonderful game called Chaturanga. It was played on an ancient board named "vastu purusha mandala", which was the mythical board of 8 x 8 squares used by antic architects to design the plan of the cities. The board representing the universe was redefined by Indian players as a board game under the secular name of "ashtapada".

Legend goes on to say that when Sissa was asked by his king what reward he wanted for such a fine game, he replied that he wanted, starting from one grain on the first square, and two in the second, the square of the number of grains, on one square of the chessboard on the next square…for the entire chess board .

The king was astonished and silently laughed on what he thought would be a very small amount. When he actually calculated, one grain of wheat for the first square of the board, two for the second, four for the third, eight for the fourth, and so on…. … to the 64th square, he was dumbfounded, as it turned out that the number of grains he owed him was 18,445,744,073,709,551,515. That is more than the current production of the entire world for hundreds of years!

Obviously Sassa couldn`t be given the grains. He had to be content with gold coins instead. He is believed to have contributed a lot towards the spread of the game in the entire country. He also achieved one more thing; he used just the chess board, not even the pawns, to baffle the king and his entire court!

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