The Loch Ness Monster (Nessie to her friends and fans)
Chess is one of the oldest games still in existence, and thanks to its long history it has some amazing stories. Here’s what you need to know about the game.
1. There are actually more possible unique chess games than there are electrons in the universe. The number of electrons is about 10^79, but there are 10^120 chess games.
2. The longest possible chess game would be 5,949 moves.
3. Checkmate comes from the Persian Shah Mat, meaning “The king is dead.”
4. In 1973, a group of police raided a chess tournament, arrested the director, and confiscated the sets on charges of gambling.
5. There are 8 different ways to mate someone in 2 moves, but 355 ways to mate in 3 moves.
6. For many years, pawns couldn’t advance two squares on their first move. The addition was introduced in Spain in 1280.
7. The first chessboard that had light and dark squares was from 1090.
8. Folding chess boards were invented in 1125 by a priest who was forbidden by the church from playing chess. He did a little DIY and created a board that look just like two books.
9. The word “rookie” or new player comes from the Rook piece because they’re typically the last pieces to be moved.
10. In 1960, Janos Flesch played 52 different blindfolded chess games at once and managed to win a full 31 of them.
11. The second book printed in English was about chess.
12. The first chess game we have record of was in the 900s in Baghdad.
13. The oldest chess sets we have are from the 12th century, found in Northern Scotland.
14. Chess came to Europe through the Middle East, which is why the pieces are so stylized. Islam forbids images of people or animals, and so they made their pieces abstract.
15. The Queen wasn’t always the most powerful piece on the board. She started out moving a single square diagonally, then two squares. Queen Isabella of Spain was the inspiration for the powerful queen.