History of Chess a Series
A great deal has been written about the origins of the modern Chess variants and there is still a lot of debate on the subject. The theory most espoused and believed is that Chess is an Indian games, the first references of which turned up in the 6th century. Most sources for this information are derived in some part from the monumental book by HJR Murray - The History of Chess published in 1917. While this is a great work, it has its flaws and, of course, much new evidence has surfaced since.
There are other theories for the origin of Chess. Some people say that the earliest ancestor known was Shaturanga, which is a 4 player version of Chess. The bulk of opinion, though would have it that this didn't turn up until around 1000AD. The other primary theory is that Chess came from China. A long and forceful treatise to this effect called "The Origin of Chess" has been written by Sam Sloan. Naturally enough, this theory is not short of its critics and other people have equally vocal opposite points of view.