Chess Merit Badge Tips: The History Of Chess

Chess Merit Badge Tips: The History Of Chess

Mar 11, 2016, 12:17 AM |

The history of chess (as well as the history of anything) can be fun and engaging.

Below are tips to encourage scouts to explore and share the history of the game. Focusing on persons or events as well as the general history can help organize both the research and the presentation.


Here are a few books about the history of the game:

  • A History of Chess, H.J.R. Murray
  • A History of Chess, Yuri Averbakh
  • Birth of the Chess Queen, Marilyn Yalom
  • Fried Liver and Burning Pants: Curious but True Chess Stories, Jay Stallings 

Questions you might ask:

Where were the oldest chess sets discovered and where are they located today?

Sample answer: One of the oldest chess sets discovered is the Lewis Chess Set now housed at the British Museum. The set was discovered on the Island of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

Who was the first world champion?

Sample answer: According to FIDE, the first world champion was Wilhelm Steinitz who defeated Johannes Zukertort in 1886.

More questions:

  • Why did the chess world need a standard chess set?
  • Who was the oldest world champion?
  • Who was the youngest world champion?
  • Who was world champion the longest?
  • Who set the record for becoming the youngest chess master (or grandmaster) in the United States?

The diagram below shows the position at the end of game 6 of the Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky world championship match in 1972. Fischer went on to win the match and become America’s first official world champion.

In the game below, White (Fischer) has just moved his queen to the square f4. No matter what Black does, he cannot avoid the loss of material and eventually the game. So Spassky resigned after White’s move.