Questions tagged [history]

Use this tag for questions relating to the history of chess and chess organizations, whose origins trace to the ancient Indian game of Chaturanga.

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47
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2answers
9k views

When (if ever) was it a rule that pawn promotion was optional?

I'm reading a very old chess book ("The Chess Pocket Manual" by G.H.D. Gossip, copyright 1894), and I find this passage in it's section on "The Laws of Chess": When a Pawn has reached the eighth ...
46
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10answers
31k views

Why is stalemate a draw?

It is so difficult to force stalemate and sometimes unintentional too, so why is stalemate a draw? As the opponent doesn't have a further move, why is it not considered a win?
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3answers
9k views

When and why was en passant invented?

Other than castling, the only "strange" move that chess pieces can ever make is en passant. It seems a little odd to me that someone thought that such a "different" move was so important to include ...
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6answers
10k views

Why are there separate tournaments for men and women?

Why are there separate tournaments for men and women? It is obvious that in physical sports men have a huge advantage, but what is the reason why in chess we differentiate by gender?
27
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5answers
6k views

Are contemporary chess players now stronger than players in the 90's or 80's?

For example, take a Class A today and Class A from the 90's. Would the contemporary Class A be stronger because of the updates of opening theory or contemporary changes in chess play?
26
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8answers
10k views

Is there a “perfect” game?

Is there a historic example of a chess game that has, to date, resisted all computerized attempts to find a better sequence of moves? In other words, a "perfect" game? CLARIFICATION I should have ...
26
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7answers
4k views

Has there been much research on rating inflation?

Magnus Carlsen's draw in yesterday's round of the 2012 London Chess Classic assured that his rating in the next published FIDE rating list will surpass Kasparov's previous record of 2851. I've seen/...
25
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2answers
5k views

Why wasn’t Rashid Nezhmetdinov a Grandmaster?

He won the Russian championship 5 times, so why wasn’t he a GM?
25
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3answers
8k views

What does the following chess proverb mean: “Chess is a sea where a gnat may drink from and an elephant may bathe in.”

"Chess is a sea where a gnat may drink from and an elephant may bathe in." ~ Anonymous The above proverb is scattered everywhere throughout chess literature, folklore and even software. I have never ...
25
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2answers
5k views

Was there ever a time when the goal in chess was to capture the king?

The modern rules of chess, except for the stalemating being a draw, are basically equivalent to a game in which the goal is just to capture the king, not checkmate him. It's plausible that in the ...
25
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1answer
2k views

What openings typify 21st century chess?

What openings are particularly typical of 21st century chess so far? To be more clear, which openings are particularly popular in the 21st century relative to the 20th century? For example, certain ...
24
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4answers
2k views

Deep Blue vs Kasparov - Aftermath

Evaluating 200M positions per second and having a search tree of 20+ moves might not be enough to beat a World Champion if a computer searches in the wrong direction or if it's evaluating positions a ...
24
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5answers
2k views

Chess games that advanced endgame theory

Single games of chess can routinely have a significant impact on opening theory, of course, but it should be quite uncommon for a single game to significantly advance endgame theory, since that's a ...
21
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2answers
947 views

What are some chess games that feature Zugzwang despite many pieces remaining on the board?

The game Saemisch - Nimzowitsch (Copenhagen 1923) has come to be known as the Immortal Zugzwang Game, as a play on Anderssen's swashbuckling Immortal Game. I am interested in finding other examples of ...
20
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6answers
3k views

Which notable players in chess history successfully used dubious openings?

I am reminded of a famous game between Karpov and Tony Miles where Miles played 1...a6 against Karpov's 1. e4 and still won the game. [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/4P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNBQKBNR b KQkq -...
20
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1answer
8k views

Why is it illegal to move into check?

In chess, it is against the rules to move into check, or to not move out of check. But why? Obviously, if you went against this rule, you'd immediately lose. But it seems strange to make it illegal to ...
18
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5answers
9k views

Why do players in the past play much longer tournaments than today's top players?

Looking through the history of chess we find tournaments that are significantly longer than today's, e.g. London 1899 - 15 players, double round robin New York 1924 - 11 players, double round robin ...
18
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2answers
1k views

What is the origin/history of the traditional piece values?

Almost everyone knows the standard rules of thumb: a minor piece is worth three pawns, a rook is worth five pawns, and a queen is worth nine. (I’m aware that this is debated; in particular many ...
18
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2answers
758 views

What is the origin of this breakthrough combination?

If you've spent enough time in the world of chess, it's not unlikely that you've come across the following position, with white to move and win, or an essentially identical one. You'll see plenty of ...
17
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7answers
3k views

How can someone find their Morphy number?

The Morphy number is a measure of how closely a chess player is connected to Paul Morphy (1837–1884) by way of playing chess games. It's analogous to the Erdős Number for mathematicians. People who ...
17
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3answers
5k views

How did castling originate?

Castling to me has alwayes seemed like such a huge leap in terms of game play that I've always wondered how it came to be. Does anyone know the history behind how and why castling came to be?
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5answers
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When and why was the notation changed from descriptive to algebraic?

When I was young I used to play chess with the the old form of notation KB (King Bishop square number), even books used to have the same notation, then later found that everyone was using algebraic, ...
16
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2answers
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Is there an origin or story of where the pieces that make a chess game got their name from?

I understand why there would be a king and queen but I would love to know where the idea to call pieces what they are - such as the Rook, Knight, Bishop and Pawn - came from. Is there any background ...
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2answers
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What influenced the development of the King's Indian Defense?

The King's Indian Defense is characterized by the moves 1. d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6. (As opposed to 2. . .e6, with the intention of developing the Bishop to the Queen-side.) Black aims for a strong King-side ...
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3answers
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What sense does promotion to queen make?

When a pawn finally reaches the eighth rank, then it can be promoted to rook, knight, bishop or queen. It is not hard to imagine that a soldier who has achieved a lot could be promoted to an officer. ...
15
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4answers
691 views

What are openings which were once thought good, but are now shown to be inferior?

Are there any openings that were once often played, but are now known to be very bad moves?
15
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1answer
3k views

What are the origins of the words 'zwischenzug' and 'zugzwang'?

I've heard chess analysts use the words Zugzwang (being forced to make a bad move) and Zwischenzug (making an intermediate move which improves the outcome of the next move) in commentary. Does anyone ...
15
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3answers
536 views

Why is algebraic notation called algebraic?

How does algebra relate to this chess notation? Why do they call this chess notation algebraic?
14
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5answers
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Why have engines not increased top rated chess players' Elo?

The arrival of strong chess engines as Stockfish, Houdini or Rybka allow top players to deeply prepare lines in openings or to study better endgames. I would expect a rating increase of top players. ...
14
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7answers
39k views

Why is the king powerless and the queen powerful?

There's a discussion on meta whether historical questions are allowed or no, and it seems to me that it it's allowed as long as it deals with Chess. Historically, real kings were powerful, (Alexander ...
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2answers
2k views

How come chess prodigies seem to start at a young age?

I started looking into the history of a few grandmasters such as Fischer and Carlsen, so I wondered: why does it seem that chess "kings" and queens" start playing the game from a young age? Can anyone ...
14
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10answers
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Is chess a sport? If yes, then why?

Sometimes (e.g. at some schools) chess is considered to be a sport. Is chess a sport? I view sport as a physical activity. For instance, if a doctor asks you "Are you doing any sports?" would your ...
14
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2answers
559 views

Earliest text which mentions the pawn promotion rule

My question is about the history of the pawn promotion rule (promotion to a queen). What is the earliest existing text (authentic written document in any language) which mentions the pawn ...
13
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5answers
837 views

Is Chaturanga/Shatranj an early form of chess or is this altogether different?

I had heard from someone that Chess evolved from Chaturanga then Shatranj. Are there any pointers towards this? I would like to know counter arguments as well, if any.
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6answers
724 views

Joke Annotations

I have run into two examples of hilarious annotations of games over the years. One is the "annotation" of the fake "Immortal Overprotection Game" Nimzowitsch-Systemsson, written by Hans Kmoch as a ...
13
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2answers
867 views

Is the first game of World Chess Championship 2013 the shortest game in WCC history?

The first game of the 2013 World Chess Championship, Carlsen vs. Anand, ended in a draw after just 16 moves. Is this shortest game in the history of the World Chess Championship?
13
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1answer
887 views

Why did Magnus Carlsen drop out of World Championship in 2011?

I heard from a friend of mine that Magnus Carlsen did not play the Candidate Matches in 2011. Why did he do that?
13
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1answer
417 views

Does Boris Gelfand share his surname with a chess piece?

Boris Gelfand was just narrowly edged out by Anand in their match's rapid tiebreaks, and I thought I'd ask an oddball question related to him. The bishop chess piece is known by several different ...
13
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2answers
29k views

How to Verbally Describe Chess Moves?

This may sound incredibly naive, but all the time on T.V, movies, books, etc. People can be heard saying things like "Queen to Rook 5" or like "Knight to King 3" and things like this. What is this? I ...
13
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1answer
600 views

What is the origin of Tal's expression “They can only take one at a time”?

The expression refers to aggressive attacking style where one side leaves multiple pieces attacked, but the opponent cannot take full advantage of it since "they can only take one at a time". Was this ...
12
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3answers
7k views

Was playing with both hands ever allowed in chess?

I was watching this video on Youtube of an Armageddon game between Vladimir Kramnik and Garry Kasparov which happened in 1995. It can be seen that Kasparov is using both of his hands for some moves. (...
12
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3answers
677 views

Why did Viktor Korchnoi leave the USSR?

Why did Viktor Korchnoi/Kortchnoi leave the USSR? Maybe the answer could include a little more trivia since he is such an interesting character.
12
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2answers
2k views

Who is/was the lowest ranked World Chess Champion?

Boris Gelfand has just won the 7th of 12 games (all previous drawn) in the FIDE World Championship match against the current holder of the title Viswanathan Anand. This puts him in a good position to ...
11
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3answers
1k views

Unknown old FIDE players

I am interested in the History of chess and looking at old FIDE ranking lists I am a bit puzzled by the lack of information about some very good players. For instance, in the list of July 1972: ...
11
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1answer
3k views

Who did Kasparov call a talented amateur?

I heard that Kasparov called some strong player a talented amateur? Who was that? Thanks.
11
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2answers
622 views

Benko's three-mover that stumped Fischer

In Christian Hesse's book The Joy of Chess one reads about a mate-in-3 problem composed by Pál Benkö that stumped Bobby Fischer. Hesse gives the following diagram: [FEN "8/8/8/4k3/8/8/8/2BQKB2 w - - ...
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3answers
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Is there a good book on the 1927 Capablanca-Alekhine world championship match?

To disambiguate what I mean by the shorthand "good" in the question's title: Is there an English-language book that tells the story of the 1927 world championship match between Capablanca and ...
11
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2answers
624 views

Did any authors ever try to adopt Hans Kmoch's pawn structure terminology?

In response to an earlier question, I mentioned the 1959 book Pawn Power in Chess by IM Hans Kmoch. One of the book's most well-known aspects it that it introduced a glut of less-than-useful ...
11
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1answer
3k views

What's the history behind stalemate not being a win? [duplicate]

If your opponent eliminates all your options to move, you don't lose in chess, but is regarded an equal to your opponent. Isn't this peculiar? In most games and in real life hunt and war it is a ...
11
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2answers
216 views

Who is the youngest player to defeat a reigning World Chess Champion in a classical chess game?

A simple web search doesn't seem to readily give the answer to this question. Who is the youngest player to defeat a reigning World Chess Champion in a classical chess game?