The Fascinating World of Chess

15.06.2024 14:18 | News

oday's topic is a bit unusual. I will not talk about strategy, tactics, endgames, middle games, psychology, or any other chess-related topics. However, I will still talk about chess.

Here are some facts about the game of chess that many non-chess players may not be aware of. These little, fundamental ideas behind the game, from chess history to the longest game possible, should help you improve your theoretical understanding of chess.

  1. The number of possible unique chess games is much greater than the number of electrons in the universe. The number of electrons is estimated to be about 10^79, while the number of unique chess games is 10^120.

  2. The longest chess game theoretically possible can last up to 5,949 moves.

  3. The longest time to perform a castling move was recorded in a game between Bobotsor and Irkov in 1966: 46. 0-0.

  4. Up until 1561, castling was a two-step process. The player had to move the rook first and then the king.

  5. The word "checkmate" comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means "the king is dead."

  6. Otto Blathy (1860-1939) is credited with creating the longest chess problem with a mate in 290 moves.

  7. In 1973, police raided a chess tournament in Cleveland, arrested the tournament director, and confiscated the chess sets on charges of allowing gambling.

  8. The number of possibilities for a knight’s tour is over 122 million.

  9. The longest official chess game lasted 269 moves (I. Nikolic – Arsovic, Belgrade 1989) and ended in a draw.

  10. From the starting position, there are eight different ways to mate in two moves and 355 different ways to mate in three moves.

  11. The new pawn move, advancing two squares on its first move instead of one, was first introduced in Spain in 1280.

  12. Dr. Emanuel Lasker from Germany retained the World Chess Champion title longer than any other player: 26 years and 337 days.

  13. In 1985, Soviet player Garry Kasparov became the youngest World Chess Champion at the age of 22 years and 210 days.

  14. The first chessboard with alternating light and dark squares appeared in Europe in 1090.

  15. During World War II, some top chess players were also code breakers. British masters Harry Golombek, Stuart Milner-Barry, and H. O’D. Alexander were on the team that broke the Nazi Enigma code.

  16. During the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match in Reykjavik, the Russians linked Spassky’s erratic play with Fischer’s chair. The Icelandic organization put a 24-hour police guard around the chair while chemical and x-ray tests were performed. Nothing unusual was found.

  17. The first mechanical chess clock was invented by Thomas Wilson in 1883. Prior to that, sandglasses were used. The present-day push-button clock was first perfected by Veenhoff in 1900.

  18. The folding chessboard was originally invented in 1125 by a chess-playing priest. Since the Church forbade priests to play chess, he hid his chessboard by making one that looked like two books lying together.

  19. The worst performance by a player was by Macleod of Canada, who lost 31 games in the New York double-round robin of 1889.

  20. Frank Marshall (1877-1944) was the first American to defeat a Soviet player in an international tournament in New York in 1924. He reigned as U.S. Champion for 30 years but only defended his title once.

  21. In 1985, Eric Knoppert played 500 games of 10-minute chess in 68 hours.

  22. Albert Einstein was a good friend of World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker. In an interview with the New York Times in 1936, Einstein said, “I do not play any games. There is no time for it.” However, he took up chess later in life.

  23. There were 72 consecutive queen moves in the Mason-Mackenzie game in London in 1882.

  24. The record for the number of moves without capture is 100 moves, set during the match between Thornton and M. Walker in 1992.

  25. Rookies, or players in their first year, are named after the rook in chess. Rooks are generally the last pieces to be moved into action.

  26. A computer program named Deep Thought beat an International Grandmaster for the first time in November 1988 in Long Beach, California.

  27. Blindfold chess is an impressive skill that many stronger chess players possess. The record was set in 1960 in Budapest by Hungarian Janos Flesch, who played 52 opponents simultaneously while blindfolded.

  28. There are well over 1,000 different openings, including variations within larger openings/defenses.

  29. Chess is often cited by psychologists as an effective way to improve memory function. It is recommended in the fight against Alzheimer’s and has been shown to improve children’s grades and other positive effects.

  30. FIDE stands for Fédération Internationale des Échecs, which translates to World Chess Federation.

  31. The second book ever printed in the English language was about chess!

  32. The first computer program for playing chess was developed in 1951 by Alan Turing. Turing tested it by doing the calculations himself as no computer was powerful enough to process it at that time.

  33. The oldest recorded chess game in history is from the 900s, between a historian from Baghdad and his student.

  34. The oldest surviving complete chess sets were found on the Isle of Lewis, in northern Scotland, dating to the 12th century.

  35. About 600 million people worldwide know how to play chess!

  36. In many languages, the pawn is referred to as a foot soldier. However, in German and Spanish, it is a peasant or farmer.

  37. The reason why traditional chess pieces don’t look like actual soldiers, bishops, and kings is that before the game reached Europe, it passed through the Islamic world, which forbids making statues of animals or people.

  38. Chess began in India during the Gupta Empire, spreading to the Persian Sassanid Empire, then to the Middle East, and eventually to Europe and Russia.

  39. Initially, the queen could only move one square at a time, diagonally. It wasn’t until Reconquista Spain, with its powerful queen Isabella, that the queen became the strongest piece on the board.

  40. In Shatranj, the predecessor to chess, the queen was a minister or vizier, and still is in many languages.

0x 138x Petr Koutný
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