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A History of Chess Updated Blog

UPDATE: This review by NM Steve Goldbergjust came out on 04.17.13: ttp://www.chesscafe.com/Reviews/review883.htm

Here are just a few brief quotes from it, but the entire review is well worth reading IMHO. My few interjections are in boldface.

Try to imagine what a (very lengthy) Ph.D. dissertation regarding the early history of chess might be like. That is this book.

A review more likely to reflect the opinion of some readers, also reported by (Edward) Winter (a noted chess historian), came from William Hartston in 1985: "The classic book on the subject; 900 pages of meticulous research, practically unreadable." Perhaps understandably, the publisher ends the Hartston quote after the word "research" on the back cover.

 "Practically unreadable," in Hartston's words, may be a bit harsh. But few readers will share Clarke's enthusiasm to the degree that he felt unable to put it down. (see Clarke's quote below along with 2 others)

And now back to our regularly scheduled blog:

A book which has long since been Out-of-Print (OP) will soon be available again. This has long been considered the authoritative work on "A History of Chess" and I'm looking forward to purchasing a copy!

"A History of Chess is a chess history book by Harold James Ruthven Murray published in 1913.

Murray's aim is threefold: to present as complete a record as is possible of the varieties of chess that exist or have existed in different parts of the world; to investigate the ultimate origin of these games and the circumstances of the invention of chess; and to trace the development of the modern European game from the first appearance of its ancestor, the Indian chaturanga, in the beginning of the 7th century.

The first part of the book describes the history of the Asiatic varieties of chess, the Arabic and Persian literature on chess, and the theory and practice of the game of Shatranj. The second part is concerned with chess in Europe in the Middle Ages, its role in literature and in the moralities, and with medieval chess problems, leading up to the beginning of modern chess and the history of the modern game through to the 19th century.

Murray's comprehensive discussion of the wide ranging sources and of chess problems makes it unlikely that this book will ever be equaled. It is referred to as the authoritative source by every modern writer on chess history. It is the first published source of the theory that chess originated in India; a theory that remains the most widely accepted today.

By collating sources and eliminating duplicates therein he lists 553 complete Islamic shatranj chess problems and their stated solutions, plus 16 mikhāriq ("puzzles", singular mikhrāq) (which he numbers RW29 and 554 to 568). During this he was caused extra work by finding that one of his Arabic-language source documents was descended from a predecessor whose pages had been shuffled somewhat and some pages lost, and then had been routine-mindedly copied as it was by another scribe in old times.

The book also contains a list of medieval European chess problems.

As some chess variants do not use an 8x8 board, he uses the algebraic notation to represent chess moves, but:

  • He represents a capture by piece x piece, not piece x square.
  • He writes P at the start of a pawn move.

He quotes lengths of text from older European sources untranslated in their original languages (medieval forms of French and German and Spanish etc.)."                                                                        SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_History_of_Chess

PS: I just received my copy (10/24/12) from amazon for about $12.00 + qualifies for free shipping if your total order is +$25.00.

PB - $17.95 (listed price) - 900 pp - EN - 8 7/8" x 6" x 1 7/8"  www.skyhorsepublishing.com - NY, NY

The greatest book ever written on the game  D J MORGAN, British Chess Magazine

So fascinating it is difficult to put down Ernest J Clarke, American Chess Bulletin

The classic book on the subject: 900 pp of meticulous research Wm Hartston, author of The Kings of Chess

You can purchase it from

http://www.amazon.com/History-Chess-Original-1913-Edition/dp/1620870622/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351314162&sr=8-1&keywords=h+j+r+murray

www.bookdepository.com

www.deepdiscount.com

www.barnesandnoble.com


Comments


  • 9 months ago

    reignsupreme

    its just a game

  • 15 months ago

    NimzoRoy

    Estragon thanks for that great quote and BTW have you ever seen The Trials of Henry Kissinger?

  • 15 months ago

    Estragon

     I have been surprised by the vehemence in the arguments. Terry Mills

    Nothing is surprising to me when you're talking about "scholars" and "academics" fo instance you should check out some of the BS arguments about who really wrote Shakespeare's plays, since some overeducated and underbrained snotty snobs out there can't stand the thought of someone who didn't go to college being a great writer. - NimzoRoy


    Henry Kissinger said that academic disputes are extremely vehement "because so very little is at stake."

  • 15 months ago

    Balachandar

    But curiously, there's no connection between Sathuram, and Sathurangam. Sathurangam is derived from the Sanskrit word Chaturanga, meaning four wings of the army. 

  • 15 months ago

    Balachandar

    ChocolateTeapot: Sathuram means squares, Sathurangam means chess.

  • 15 months ago

    NimzoRoy

     I have been surprised by the vehemence in the arguments. Terry Mills

    Nothing is surprising to me when you're talking about "scholars" and "academics" fo instance you should check out some of the BS arguments about who really wrote Shakespeare's plays, since some overeducated and underbrained snotty snobs out there can't stand the thought of someone who didn't go to college being a great writer.

    What did you spend to have your HB copy printed on demand? I'm guessing that for the price you paid, the book was "out of print" for cheapskates like me! (My brand-new PB copy was $12 from amazon) Also several different sources listed it as OP prior to this recent (2012) reprint, how did you learn about getting it printed on demand?

  • 15 months ago

    TerryMills

    I'm not sure that it has been out-of-print for years. I bought a hard back copy of the book a couple of years ago. It was new, published by Oxford University Press, but was printed on demand. Murray takes the view that Chess started in India. This is disputed in some circles; other scholars argue that it started in Persia. I have been surprised by the vehemence in the arguments. 

  • 15 months ago

    NimzoRoy

     Sathurangam means squares in Tamil, but AFAIK there is no word for chess. Where is Anand when you need him?   ChocolateTeapot

    Probably at home studying Carlsen's games in very fine detail would be my guess.

  • 15 months ago

    ChocolateTeapot

    Sathurangam means squares in Tamil, but AFAIK there is no word for chess. Where is Anand when you need him?

  • 20 months ago

    batgirl

    I received my copy of Murray's book last week. My library used to have a copy that I could reference (though not check out), but it disappeared some time ago.  I couldn't believe how inexpensive the reprint was from Amazon. The book arrived just in time, as I've been working on an article about Caze's 1706 manuscript (which resides in Cleveland, and is otherwise not viewable) and need some information.

  • 21 months ago

    NimzoRoy

    bump - blog has been updated with the books exact "specs" and 3 "thumbs up" by other reviewers

  • 22 months ago

    NimzoRoy

    I've "pre-ordered" it at amazon for $12 (PB, new) and eligible for free shipping if your total order is +$25

  • 22 months ago

    splitleaf

    Sounds like a good place to start, am looking forward to its release next month.

  • 23 months ago

    hisureshkumar

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 23 months ago

    Super-Blitzkrieg

    شطرنج = Shatranj

  • 23 months ago

    Balachandar

    We still call it Shatranj [Persianised version of Chaturanga] in Nortern and Central India and Pakistan and Sathurangam in Tamil. 

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