Updated: Oct 21, 2019
A big thank you to Anna Aturyan for writing this great article on the history of chess for us. Anna sells handmade wooden chess sets which remind players of the long history of chess. You can view the products here.
In celebration of these beautiful handmade wooden pieces, Anna has shared with us five interesting facts about the game and its origins. Read on to find out which piece has changed the most and to learn what the early chess sets looked like.
The Longest Recorded Chess Game Resulted In A Draw
In 1989, the longest official championship chess game in recorded chess history was held in Belgrade. The competitors (Nikolić and Arsović) kept the game up for 269 moves, which took a whopping 20 hours and 15 minutes to get through. In the end, the game resulted in a draw. Prior to the game, the rules of the tournament had recently been modified to allow for more than 100 moves. This ruling ultimately impacted the length and resulted in this historic game.
The Youngest World Chess Champion Was Only 22-Years-Old
Garry Kasparov became the youngest World Chess Champion in recorded history in 1985 when he won the tournament at only 22-years-old. Kasparov held the FIDE title until 1993 when he set up his own chess organization after irreconcilable differences with FIDE. He retired from professional chess in 2005 and is now an author and activist.
Wood is One Of The Most Popular Materials For Modern Chess Sets
While plastic chess sets were all the rage in the early 2000's, it is the wooden chess set that is staging the biggest return in the chess world. Consumers are more interested in handmade wooden chess sets than ever before. With the distinct look of wooden chess pieces and the allure they have when held in your hands, who can blame them!
Historical Chess Sets Were Often Based On Real People
While handmade wooden chess sets today range from simple to ornate, it was very common in the past for wooden, ivory and bone chess sets to reflect current events in their figural designs. For instance, in the years following the French Revolution, numerous custom chess sets were made featuring Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in the prominent king and queen pieces. These historical handmade chess sets often fetch a hefty price at auction. Thankfully, you don’t have to break the bank to get your own beautiful wooden chess set—you can carve a set yourself or purchase a pre-made handmade set for an affordable price instead.
The Queen Was Not Always A Powerful Piece
During the earliest days of chess, the queen was not particularly powerful. The piece could only move one square at a time in a diagonal direction. This was later extended to two squares at a time, but still only diagonally. It was not until the 16th century that the rules were changed, giving the queen the power to move as many squares as she likes in any direction.