Chess a quick history

Our logo and name has Chess in it but how much do you know about this amazing game? We thought we would take a look at today.

Koalas playing chess vegan organic cotton t-shirt

Koalas Playing Chess
vegan organic cotton t-shirt

The origins of Chess

Chess as we know it had its origins  around 1500 years ago. It is believed to have derived from the Indian game Chaturanga which means "army" in Sanskrit. This is believed to have developed from the time of Alexander the Great. Alexander conquered much of Persia until his death in 323 BC.  The moves on the board of Chaturanga are very similar to that of modern day chess.

Taken up as a game played by the muslim world, Chess spread into Spain with its conquests by the moors and then into the rest of Europe.

The original persian "Shāh Māt!", "the king is helpless", is believed to be the origin of the term “Check mate”.

Dinosaurs playing chess women's vegan organic cotton t-shirt

Dinosaurs playing chess
women's vegan organic cotton t-shirt

The dark days of Chess!

By the 12th and 15th century Chess was a game played in the western courts. It was also played by some unscrupulous characters. The church condemned it as violent following two incidents of death by Essex men after a game of Chess. Bishop Guy of Paris in 1125 banned priests from playing chess. It is believed this is where the folding board was invented. The folding board when closed would look like two books together. King Louis IX of France also issued a gambling order as betting was widespread on games, which was ignored. Still very much the same at your local chess club today I imagine!!!! 😀

Santa and Rudolph playing chess

Two of the world's greatest minds
Rudolph and Santa play Chess.

The pieces 

By the 19th century chess was beginning to be played in tournament format all over the world.  Prior to this the pieces of each set were completely different. There were some beautiful sets like those discovered on the Isle of Lewis from the time of the Vikings. It was not until the Staunton Chess Set was introduced that the standard chess set was born. As this amazing article states the pieces were in fact designed by an architect and not the famous chess player Stauton. Staunton was an influencer of his day and the new chess set design took hold. The pieces took their influences from the neoclassical architecture in and around London. The modern knight's design is actually taken from a much older and controversial building. The infamous Elgin marbles housed at the time (and still now) at the British museum

The modern game

The introduction of clocks in around 1860, helped to speed up the modern game. The competition and organisational bodies have increased the number of tournaments around the world. The governing body FIDE states that there are over 60 million games of chess played each day. The biggest Chess rivalry would have to be Bobby Fischer verses Boris Spassky. At the time of the cold war it was USA v USSR. It would also be the first time an American born in America would win the title and the first time in over two decades someone outside the USSR would win.

Bush baby box set binger

This Bush baby box set binged
the entire series in one day!

Recently in 2020 the release of the netflix series “The queen's gambit” coupled with a global pandemic have caused a huge increase in the interest of chess. A recent guardian article shows that purchases of chess boards have gone up over 215%. A strong female lead character has also helped increase the number of women now playing the game too. Although currently there are more men than women playing it's hoped that this will change over time and despite unfounded claims of biology being an influential factor.

We have lots of Chess related designs. Why not take a look now!

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