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Past Variations Of Chess From Around The World

Aug 27, 2008
The most common form of Chess that we know of today was developed in Europe during the late 14th and 15th Centuries. During this period of time, the rules became more or less locked down and, while little adjustments have been made over the course of time, the game has predominately remained unchanged. However, this form of Chess evolved from other forms of the game that date back centuries before this time and some of those games have a rich history and intricate subtleties about them. It is through these games, tracing back to Eastern Asia, that one can understand more about the common day Chess which exists.

Chaturanga is one of the earliest discovered games from which Chess was derived. In fact, it seems to be the first game of the strategic sort that many games the world over express and is largely considered by some to be the origin for many of these games. It is quite possible that Chaturanga was the game which spread throughout these other parts of the world through the influence of different traders which carried the game with them over their travels. This game featured pieces which correlate nicely to modern Chess, albeit with different names. Modern Pawns were considered the Infantry pieces with Chaturanga and the Rooks were considered to be the Gaja, or War Elephants. This game seems to have been immensely popular for centuries, with references being found to it in many forms of documents and literature from the times.

The game from India spread to Persia, where it came to be known as Shatranj. This game, having been popular in the Persian region over over 1000 years now, is believed to be the link between which Chaturanga from India came to become modern Chess in Europe. The game moved to Persia in the early stages of the Christian Era, with references being found in manuscripts dating back to as early as the 3rd Century.

Shatranj adopted the use of two warring sides, commonly depicted as red and green, with 16 pieces per side, each represented by 4 different divisions of an army. Horses, Elephants, Chariots, and Foot-Soldiers all comprised the army and it was through the use of these pieces that the battle of the game was played. After the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th Century, however, the game began to spread westward, eventually into Spain. From Spain, the game started its journey into Europe and evolved into the common form it is known as today.

However, this format of game did not derive solely from India through Persia. Xiangqi in China became quite popular, often referred to today as "Chinese Chess." This game works on the same basic principles as both Chaturanga and modern Chess, yet has a number of delicate rules that cannot be found in either. Xiangqi has literary references back as far as the 9th Century, giving it a rich history. The board is slightly different than a traditional Chess board, with the middle separating the two sides with a "river." Pawns can be promoted after crossing the river and the Elephants are not permitted to cross, giving a slightly harder obstacle on the board for players to deal with. However, with the rich history of this game, it is no surprise that it can be considered to be another incredible form of strategic game play.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for board games, chess boards, and dungeons and dragons miniatures. You will find all these things and more if you visit used board games, past chess games, and dungeons and dragons miniatures.
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