Was chess invented?

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John Macnab

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2 de jan. de 1997 03:00:0002/01/1997
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There have been numerous posts regarding the location of the invention of
chess. Now I am not a historian of any sort, but I can't help but wonder
if the notion of the "invention" of chess has any meaning whatsoever.

We can imagine that games such as "Trivial Pursuit" or "Monopoly" have a
definite period of invention, or creation. But most older, socially
complex games have no such origin. Baseball, for example, was not
invented by Abner Doubleday (despite attempts to cash in on the war hero's
popularity), but evolved gradually from a number of other games. The
source games themselves most likely having similar disparate and
untracable origins.

It is possible (perhaps likely) that the same can be said of chess. It
did not simply emerge one day; it probably has an ancestry that goes
through many other games, each with its own story.

Furthermore, what counts as "chess"? If we mean the current game with its
current rules, we can trace to a relatively recent "origin". If we are
looking for all possible ancestries of chess, I suspect that we are on a
fool's errand.

I don't expect this to convince many involved in the patriotic attempt to
claim chess for the modern countries they champion. But perhaps it can
add some new directions to the debate.


John


Benjamin J. Tilly

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3 de jan. de 1997 03:00:0003/01/1997
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In article <5afeq1$e...@pulp.ucs.ualberta.ca>
jma...@gpu.srv.ualberta.ca (John Macnab) writes:

> There have been numerous posts regarding the location of the invention of
> chess. Now I am not a historian of any sort, but I can't help but wonder
> if the notion of the "invention" of chess has any meaning whatsoever.
>
> We can imagine that games such as "Trivial Pursuit" or "Monopoly" have a
> definite period of invention, or creation. But most older, socially
> complex games have no such origin. Baseball, for example, was not
> invented by Abner Doubleday (despite attempts to cash in on the war hero's
> popularity), but evolved gradually from a number of other games. The
> source games themselves most likely having similar disparate and
> untracable origins.
>
> It is possible (perhaps likely) that the same can be said of chess. It
> did not simply emerge one day; it probably has an ancestry that goes
> through many other games, each with its own story.
>
> Furthermore, what counts as "chess"? If we mean the current game with its
> current rules, we can trace to a relatively recent "origin". If we are
> looking for all possible ancestries of chess, I suspect that we are on a
> fool's errand.
>

[...]

Indeed, the rules of chess have changed over the years. While most
changes are minor, it is worth noting that one of the most basic rules
of chess today was not invented until the latter half of the 1800's.
(AFTER Paul Morphy in fact.) For those who like trivia, which rule was
that? :-)

(Spoiler below.)

I am sure that everybody will agree that it is a basic rule that white
goes first? Prior to, if I recall exactly, 1873 which color went first
was decided randomly. The rationale for choosing white to go first was
to offset the fact that black was considered the more lucky color. :-)

Ben Tilly

Ed Seedhouse

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4 de jan. de 1997 03:00:0004/01/1997
para

Benjamin...@dartmouth.edu (Benjamin J. Tilly) wrote:

>I am sure that everybody will agree that it is a basic rule that white
>goes first?

Why? Chess is the exact same game no matter who goes first. White
having first move is merely a minor convention for the sake of
convenience, hardly a basic rule like say, castling.


Ed Seedhouse
President, Victoria Chess Club.
CFC Rating: 2058


Don Fong

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4 de jan. de 1997 03:00:0004/01/1997
para

In article <5aki7f$v5f$1...@sanjuan.islandnet.com>,

Ed Seedhouse <e...@islandnet.com> wrote:
>Benjamin...@dartmouth.edu (Benjamin J. Tilly) wrote:
>
>>I am sure that everybody will agree that it is a basic rule that white
>>goes first?
>
>Why? Chess is the exact same game no matter who goes first. White
>having first move is merely a minor convention for the sake of
>convenience, hardly a basic rule like say, castling.

IMHO this is an anachronism, we ought to let Black go first
in at least half the games. or maybe we ought to let Black go
first in all the games for the next few hundred years, in order
to make up for centuries of injustice.
at the same time, let's swap the initial positions of the King
and Queen. i've heard the ladies want to be "off color" for a change.
i also decree that each game must start out with an equal number
of "dark" and "light" squared bishops.
i think these changes will make chess a much better game, don't you?

now how about some *real* changes.
what would chess be like if you were allowed to capture
your own pieces?


Bernhard Sadlowski

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4 de jan. de 1997 03:00:0004/01/1997
para

In article <5aklcl$7...@darkstar.ucsc.edu>, Don Fong <df...@cse.ucsc.edu> wrote:
> now how about some *real* changes.
>what would chess be like if you were allowed to capture
>your own pieces?

It would be harder to mate the opponent's king! Many known combinations
wouldn't work anymore (which rely i.e. on the weakness of the first rank: 1.
Re8+ (#) could be met by Kg8xbPg7 then). Sacrifices wouldn't work well too
and Chess would be less exciting.

Bernhard

--
Bernhard Sadlowski
<sadl...@mathematik.uni-bielefeld.de>

maxw...@aol.com

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5 de jan. de 1997 03:00:0005/01/1997
para

>> There have been numerous posts regarding the location of the invention
of
>> chess.

Chess was not invented. It was created by God in six days. On the
seventh day, He wrestled.

David Unsworth

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12 de jan. de 1997 03:00:0012/01/1997
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In article <5afeq1$e...@pulp.ucs.ualberta.ca>
jma...@gpu.srv.ualberta.ca "John Macnab" writes:

> There have been numerous posts regarding the location of the invention of

> chess. Now I am not a historian of any sort, but I can't help but wonder
> if the notion of the "invention" of chess has any meaning whatsoever.

> (some important points...)
> ..... what counts as "chess"?

> If we are looking for all possible ancestries of chess, I suspect that
> we are on a fool's errand.

Wise Words....

The notion is artificial
Soccer evolved
Basketball was invented
Snooker evolved
Who invented Trousers?
etc...
Chess, Go, Chinese, Indian....
go on.... waste your life this way
it's morally okay and doesn't hurt anyone
but it is rather futile

(waiting for Time Travel.. why should I wait?)
--
David


David Unsworth

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12 de jan. de 1997 03:00:0012/01/1997
para

xyz writes:
> Indeed, the rules of chess have changed over the years.

the queen move for example... quite a significant change
the pawn moving 2
"castling"

as far as the black white thing goes i understood white goes first for
a very scientific reason, ie. because the black pieces are lucky!

if black went first he or she would have a double advantage.

for the future...
-----------------
1. Fischer's shuffle
okay but computer programs would still work

2. pawns moving backwards
most programs would cope after a rewrite

3. change from a digital, squared board to an analogue board where
"squares" exist at different levels of magnitude... to infinity;
and pieces can be subdivided ... to as many decimal places as
the players agree at the start of the game.
may rescue the game back for carbon-based lifeforms

unthinkingly
--
David


Adam Whiteson

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12 de jan. de 1997 03:00:0012/01/1997
para Da...@traherne.demon.co.uk

David Unsworth wrote:

> 3. change from a digital, squared board to an analogue board where
> "squares" exist at different levels of magnitude... to infinity;
> and pieces can be subdivided ... to as many decimal places as
> the players agree at the start of the game.
> may rescue the game back for carbon-based lifeforms
>

Well a great deal depends on the actual implementation but the effect of
moving the game to a superposition of continous functions would be to
render it much more tractable mathematically and hence much easier to
program. Much of the difficulty in dealing with chess mathematically
comes from its discrete nature. Continuous functions have much nicer
mathematical properties.

Adam

srey...@orc.ca

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11 de fev. de 1997 03:00:0011/02/1997
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A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHESS
by S. Reynolds
Chess is old - very, very old. It’s so old in fact that no one really
knows how old it is and its history, obscured by antiquity, if often
the subject of much debate.
So what do we know about the history of chess? It is a war game and,
along with Shogi and Go, shares the distinction of being the world’s
oldest.
While many ancient paintings have been found to resemble people
playing games similar to chess they have, so far, been subject to
speculation. Ancient pieces have been found that, to one extent or
another, resemble what might have been chess pieces... or religious
objects... or art. Were the pieces used in a game of ancient chess?
Perhaps the study of some yet undiscovered archeological find will
yield an answer someday. Until then, we will have to content
ourselves with the ‘little’ we know and the ‘lot’ that we can imagine.

What We Can Imagine
It has been imagined that chess is much older than what scarce
evidence we have suggests and that it was played long before the birth
of Christ. The more imaginative among us might suggest that the
game’s roots could, quite possibly, be found in some very ancient
civilization that was mathematically, philosophically and
scientifically advanced for its time (Plato’s Atlantis?). From there
it could have spread through-out the ancient world (Egypt, Greece)
being accepted, adapted and evolving within each culture differently.


This picture is from the tomb of the Egyptian queen Neertari.
Pictures like this are quite common and show that board games (related
to chess?) were an important part of life in many ancient
civilizations.

What We Know
What we know is that the oldest game discovered to definitely
resemble chess is ‘Chaturanga’ - a game played in India in the 6th
century AD. It is said that from there the game spread throughout
Asia over the next 500 years and was introduced to Europe sometime
between 700-900 AD.
Another related (and in my opinion more plausible) theory is that the
game’s early roots can be found in ancient Greece with a branch of
game’s known as ‘petteia’. Petteia is referred to many times in Greek
literature. In ‘The Republic’ Plato compares Socrates victims to “bad
petteia players, who are finally cornered and made unable to move by
clever ones.” In the same works Plato quite clearly tells us that
petteia involves long training if skill is to be achieved. Aristotle,
tutor to Alexander The Great, wrote “a citizen without a state may be
compared to an isolated piece in a game of petteia”. It seems quite
likely that these ‘petteia’ games spread from ancient Athens to
Persia, Asia Minor and India with the armies of Alexander The Great
around 330 BC. There, in the union of the Greek ‘game of reason’
(petteia) and the Indian ‘game of chance’ (chaturangu), chess was
born.
By 800 AD the game had spread to China and Japan to become Go and
Shogi. By the end of the seventh century the game had reached Europe
via Spain, the Byzantine empire and Russia. Just as China and Japan
had made the game their own so too did the west. The pieces
representing the Indian army were gradually modified to become those
of feudal Europe. While the king remained the same, the Indian vizier
(advisor) became the queen and the elephant (the heavy cavalry of
India) became the bishop - a symbol of the power of the church in
Europe. The Indian horse became the chivalrous knight and the chariot
became the castle (although curiously the word ‘rook‘ is still used
today to describe the piece). Near the end of the fifteenth century
some rule changes were made. Pawns were allowed to move two squares
on their first move (prompting the en passant rule), castling was
developed and, perhaps most significantly of all, the queen was given
much more power. From the middle of the sixteenth century until today
the game has virtually remained the same!

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