Chess

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For other meanings, see Chess (disambiguation).

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Chess, sometimes also known as international chess, is a board game and mental sport for 2 players. It is played on a square board of 8 rows (called ranks) and 8 columns (called files), giving 64 squares of alternating colour, light and dark, with each player having a light square at their bottom right when facing the board. Each player begins the game with 16 pieces that each move and capture other pieces on the board in a unique way: eight pawns, two knights, two bishops, two rooks, one queen and one king. One player (who is always first to move) controls the white pieces; the other player controls the black pieces.

In chess, when a player's king is directly attacked by one or more of the opponent's pieces, the player is said to be in 'check'. When in check, only moves that can evade check or block check are permitted. The object of the game is to checkmate the opponent; this occurs when the opponent's king is in check, and no move can be made that would escape from check.

Introduction

Template:Chess diagram Chess is not a game of chance; it is based solely on tactics and strategy. Nevertheless, the game is so complex that not even the best players can consider all contingencies: although only 64 squares and 32 pieces are on the board, the number of possible games that can be played far exceeds the number of atoms in the universe (see Shannon number).

Chess is one of the world's most popular games; it has been described not only as a game, but also as an art, science, and sport. Chess is sometimes seen as an abstract wargame; as a "mental martial art", and teaching chess has been advocated as a way of enhancing mental prowess. Chess is played both recreationally and competitively in clubs, tournaments, online, and by mail (correspondence chess). Many variants and relatives of chess are played throughout the world. The most popular, in descending order by number of players, are Xiangqi (in China), Shogi (in Japan), and Janggi (in Korea).

History

Main article: Origins of chess
File:Youth at chess with suitors - Haft Awrang.jpg
Persian youth playing chess with two suitors Illustration to the "Haft Awrang" of Jami, in the story A Father Advises his Son About Love Freer and Sackler Galleries, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
File:ChessTable.png
A chess table is a table with a chessboard painted or engraved on it. The photograph shows a chess table in a park.
File:Chess central park 1946.jpg
Two oldtimers playing chess on a Central Park bench in New York City, May 1946.

Many countries claim to have invented the chess game in some incipient form. The most commonly held belief is that chess originated in India, where it was called Chaturanga, which appears to have been invented in the 6th century AD. The Persians also have been widely accepted as the creators of chess. In fact, the oldest known chess pieces have been found in excavations of ancient Persian territories.

Another theory exists that chess arose from the similar game of Chinese chess, or at least a predecessor thereof, existing in China since the 2nd century B.C. Joseph Needham and David Li are two of many scholars who have favored this theory.

Chess eventually spread westward to Europe and eastward as far as Japan, spawning variants as it went. One theory suggests that it migrated from India to Persia, where its terminology was translated into Persian, and its name changed to chatrang. The entrance of chess into Europe, notably, is marked by a massive improvement in the powers of the queen. The oldest known texts describing chess seem to indicate a bi-directional spread from the Persian empire. In fact, the oldest known reference points to Shah Ardashir as being a master of the game, his rule was from 224 - 241 AD. This would indicate that chess was invented some time before his rule.

From Persia it entered the Islamic world, where the names of its pieces largely remained in their Persian forms in early Islamic times. Its name became shatranj, which continued in Spanish as ajedrez and in Greek as zatrikion, but in most of Europe was replaced by versions of the Persian word shāh = "king".

There is a theory that this name replacement happened because, before the game of chess came to Europe, merchants coming to Europe brought ornamental chess kings as curiosities and with them their name shāh, which Europeans mispronounced in various ways.

  • checkmate: This is the English rendition of shāh māt, which is Persian for "the king is finished".
  • rook: From the Persian rukh, which means "chariot", but also means "cheek" (part of the face), and the mythical bird of great power called the roc.
  • bishop. From the Persian pīl means "the elephant", but in Europe and the western part of the Islamic world people knew little or nothing about elephants, and the name of the chessman entered Western Europe as Latin alfinus and similar, a word with no other meaning (in Spanish, for example, it evolved to the name "alfil")This word "alfil" is actually the Arabic for "elephant" hence the Spanish word would most certainly have been taken from the Islamic provinces of Spain. The English name "bishop" is a rename inspired by the conventional shape of the piece. In Russia, the piece is, however, known as слон = "elephant".
  • queen. Persian farzīn = "vizier" became Arabic firzān, which entered western European languages as forms such as alfferza, fers, etc but was later replaced by "queen".

The game spread throughout the Islamic world after the Muslim conquest of Persia. Chess eventually reached Russia via Mongolia, where it was played at the beginning of the 7th century. It was introduced into Spain by the Moors in the 10th century, and described in a famous 13th century manuscript covering chess, backgammon, and dice named the Libro de los juegos. Chess also found its way across Siberia into Alaska.

Gameplay

Rules of chess

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For more details on this topic, see Rules of chess.

When a game of chess begins, one player controls the sixteen black pieces while the other uses the white pieces. The colors are chosen either by a friendly agreement (a game of chance) or by a tournament director[1]. White always moves first and therefore has a slight advantage over black. The chess pieces should be set up on a standard chessboard with a white square in the bottom right hand corner.

Each chess piece moves a different way. The rook moves along horizontal and vertical lines, while the bishop moves in diagonal lines of the same color. The queen is a combination of the rook and bishop (it can move diagonally, horizontally and vertically). The knight can jump over occupied squares and moves in an L shape. Pawns can move forward just one square at a time (they can move two squares if they have not moved off their starting square). Pawns are unusual because they attack diagonally and not in the direction of movement. The King is the most important piece, yet it can only move to an adjacent or diagonally adjacent square.

When a piece is captured (or taken), the attacking piece moves towards and replaces the enemy piece on its square (en passant being the only exception). The king cannot be captured in regular chess, only put in check. If a player is unable to get their king out of check it is called checkmate and the game is over.

Chess games do not have to end in checkmate. Often at the higher level of chess, games end in a draw (tie). A draw can occur under many situations including: mutual agreement to draw, stalemate, threefold repetition or the fifty move rule.

Strategy and tactics

For more details on this topic, see Chess strategy and tactics.

Chess openings are a sequence of moves, often memorized, which will help a player build up their position and prepare for the middlegame. Openings are often designed to take hold of the center of the board (e4, e5, d4 and d5), develop pieces, protect the king and create a strong pawn structure. Hypermodernism advocates the control of the center not by using pawns but with distant pieces. It is often important for a player to castle (a special move that moves the king behind a row of pawns) to protect the king. See the list of chess openings for more information. Template:Chess diagram When taking and trading pieces in chess the chess piece point values becomes important. Valuations differ slightly from book to book, but generally, queens are worth 9 points, rooks are worth 5, bishops and knights are worth 3 and pawns are worth 1. Since the king's loss ends the game it is invaluable. The actual value and importance of a piece will vary based upon the position. If a player performs a sacrifice (ex. exchange sacrifice), they are choosing to ignore the standard valuation of their pieces for positional or tactical gains.

A few positional elements are common to most chess tactics and traps. A fork is a situation where a piece is moved such that it is attacking (forking) two other pieces simultaneously. It usually is difficult for the other player to protect both of their pieces in one move. Pins are used to prevent the movement of an enemy piece by threatening any pieces behind it should it move. Skewers are a kind of reverse pin where the more valuable piece is placed in front of a less important one. A discovered attack is an attack where a piece moves and uncovers a line for another piece which does the attacking. Other tactical elements include: zwischenzug, undermining, overloading and interference.

During the endgame pawns and kings become relatively more powerful pieces as both sides often try to promote their pawns. If one player has a large material advantage checkmate may happen quickly in the endgame, but if the game is relatively even tablebases and endgame study are essential. Controlling the tempo (time used by each move) becomes especially important when fewer pieces are left on the board. In some cases, a player will have a material advantage, but will not have enough material to force a checkmate.

Gameplay variations

Besides the standard version of chess, there are some common variations in the gameplay.

Blitz chess is a version of chess where a chess clock is used to limit the time control for each player. Generally each side has three to fifteen minutes (five is common) for all of their moves. An even faster version of chess is known as bullet chess or lightning chess. Bullet chess's time controls are less than three minutes. Speed chess requires the player to spend less time thinking because if the player's time runs out they lose. When playing at faster time controls computers become relatively more powerful to humans.

When two players are separated by great distances they can still play chess. Correspondence chess is chess played through the mail, e-mail or special Correspondence Chess Servers. Today, chess is often played on the internet through the Internet Chess Club, Yahoo! Games or another host.

Modern chess

File:Staunton chess set.jpg
A typical Staunton-design set and clock

Early on, the pieces in European chess had limited movement; bishops could only move by jumping exactly two spaces diagonally (similar to the elephant in xiangqi), the queen could move only one space diagonally, pawns could not move two spaces on their first move, and there was no castling. By the end of the 15th century, the modern rules for the basic moves had been adopted from Italy: pawns gained the option of moving two squares on their first move and the en passant capture therewith, bishops acquired their modern move, and the queen was made the most powerful piece; consequently modern chess was referred to as "Queen's Chess" or "Mad Queen Chess." The game in Europe since that time has been almost the same as is played today. The current rules were finalized in the early 19th century, except for the exact conditions for a draw.

The most popular piece design, the "Staunton" set, was created by Nathaniel Cook in 1849, endorsed by Howard Staunton, a leading player of the time, and officially adopted by Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) in 1924.

Chess's international governing body is FIDE, which has presided over the world championship matches for decades. See World Chess Championship for details and a more in-depth history. Most countries of the world have a national chess organization as well. Although chess is not an Olympic sport, it has its own Olympiad, held every two years as a team event.

Notation

Until the 1970s, at least in English-speaking countries, chess games were recorded and published using descriptive chess notation. This has been supplanted by the more compact algebraic chess notation. Several notations have emerged, based upon algebraic chess notation, for recording chess games in a format suitable for computer processing. Of these, Portable Game Notation (PGN) is the most common. Apart from recording games, there is also a notation Forsyth-Edwards Notation for recording specific positions. This is useful for adjourning a game to resume later or for conveying chess problem positions without a diagram.

Computer chess

Main article: Computer chess

Serious work on machines that play chess has been going on since 1890, and chess-playing computer programs featured prominently in the artificial intelligence boom of the 1950s - 1970s. At first considered only a curiosity, the best chess playing programs — like Shredder, Fritz etc. — have eventually become stronger than the best humans, especially in blitz, even when running on a normal computer. However, it is important to note that the method by which computer programs play chess does not really resemble the way humans play chess — the computer basically just calculates the board position after every possible combination of legal moves and acts accordingly, whereas human masters act more from intuition and pattern recognition. Moreover, as CPU speed and memory become less expensive, computer chess programs can search ever larger numbers of moves in the same amount of time, and store ever larger databases of opening and endgame positions.

Garry Kasparov, then ranked number one in the world, played a six-game match against IBM's chess computer Deep Blue in February 1996. Deep Blue shocked the world by winning the first game in Deep Blue - Kasparov, 1996, Game 1, but Kasparov convincingly won the match by winning three games and drawing two.

The six-game rematch in May 1997 was won by the machine (informally dubbed Deeper Blue) which was subsequently retired by IBM. In October 2002, Vladimir Kramnik drew in an eight-game match with the computer program Deep Fritz. In 2003, Kasparov drew both a six-game match with the computer program Deep Junior in February, and a four-game match against X3D Fritz in November.

The chess machine Hydra is the intellectual descendant of Deep Blue; and appears to be somewhat stronger than Deep Blue was. Certainly it is very much comparable in terms of positions analysed per second. Given the relative ease with which it beats the other programs, and the humans it has met, Hydra may be expected to beat any unaided human player in match play. In June 2005, Hydra scored a decisive victory over the then 7th ranked GM Michael Adams winning five games and drawing one game in a six game match.

Kasparov's loss to Deep Blue has inspired the creation of chess variants in which human intelligence can still overpower computer calculation. In particular Arimaa, which is played upon a standard 8×8 chessboard, is a game at which humans can beat the best efforts of programmers so far, even at fast time controls.

Chess variants

For more details on this topic, see Chess variant.

Chess variants are forms of chess where the game is played with a different board, special fairy pieces or different rules. There are over 1500 unique variants of chess. Bobby Fischer noted the over emphasis on memorizing chess openings in normal chess and invented Fischer Random Chess. Fischer Random Chess and other versions with different starting positions work by scrambling the initial starting position for every game. See the list of chess variants for more details.

See also

Famous chess games

History of chess

World chess champions

Main article: World Chess Championship

Unofficial but widely recognized as Champions (pre-championship era):

Official Champions:

Unofficial but widely accepted as current World Champion:

FIDE World Champions after Garry Kasparov:

Chess literature

Chess in the arts and literature

References

External links

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General

Games for download.

Mostly in SCID,PGN, or CBF.

Free chess software: Programs/Engines/Databases/Utilities

Organizations


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