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CHESS: The Origin

CHESS: The Origin
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It is believed that the game of Chess originated in India about 500 A.D. and was popularly known as “Chaturanga”. Literally, “Chaturanga” in Sanskrit, is a combination word of “Chatur” meaning four and “Anga” meaning parts or divisions representing “Ratha, Gaja, Turaga, and Padadi” meaning Chariots, Elephants, Horses and Foot troopers (Infantry) respectively, which constituted the four divisions of the Army of the Indian Kings. From India “Chaturanga” moved east to countries like China along with Buddhism before it travelled west to Persia (Iran) where it was called “Chatrang”. From there, through Arabs, who called it “Shatrang” it entered Western Europe via Spain by 9th or 10th century. The various stages and details of its transformation to the modern Chess are not known.

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It is also believed that legendary Ravanasura taught “chaturanga” to his wife Mandodari before his war with Lord Rama to simulate the actual war scenes.

The Nomenclature and some of the rules of movement of Chess pieces such as Pawn and special Knight move of King and promotion rules of the Pawns when they reach 8th or 1st rank of Indian “Chaturanga” seem to have been retained in medieval Chess played in various countries especially of the East.

The modern Chess spread to India during the past 60 or 70 years. Until then, the elite in the villages and the towns played the traditional Indian Chess. The nomenclature and rules might have varied slightly from one part of India to the other because of the different languages spoken in different parts of the country. The details given below pertain to the Indian chess that was being played in the state of Andhra Pradesh in South India.

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Nomenclature:

The game of Chess is called the “Chadarangam” in Telugu, which is the spoken language of Andhra Pradesh. It is derived from the Sanskrit word “Chaturanga”. The chessboard and pieces are the same as in the modern chess.

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