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Chess History: Origins of the Pieces

Chess History: Origins of the Pieces

Apr 11, 2011, 8:21 PM 1

After doing some research on the origins of chess I have found myself in a world as intriguing and complex as chess itself, the world of the ancient Indian epic the Mahabharata. Chess originates from a battles scene, the Caturanga. I am currently having some difficulty discerning from my reading whether it was an actual battle or some sort of game, like chess itself, although it certainly mirrors a battle. The chess pieces were originally the major instruments of war, the elephant, the infantry, the chariot and the cavalry. The king and queen moved of course only one square at a time, and the queen was some sort of military advisor. The story of the Mahabharata is the story of the Kurkshetra war, a war that only lasted eighteen days, but took eighteen volumes to tell and is perhaps the longest ancient epic. Written somewhere around 200 BCE it tells a tale that had been passed down from generation to generation. The war is between two families, the Kurus and the Pandavas, both of whom claim the right to control the richly fertile land near the Ganges river in India. The war appears to have taken place somewhere around 1,000 BCE, although the date is highly disputed.  

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