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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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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  • 781
61 votes
2 answers
15k 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 ...
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  • 3,469
38 votes
2 answers
13k views

Why is there a 50-move rule and a 75-move rule?

Logically, if 75 moves have been played, 50 moves would've also been played. This sounds ridiculous. It is like saying "I would buy this book if it cost under $60 and it costs under $40". So,...
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  • 2,997
36 votes
1 answer
8k views

When was it possible for a player's king to be attacked by 3 of the opponent's pieces?

According to the current FIDE Laws of Chess: 3.9.1 The king is said to be 'in check' if it is attacked by one or more of the opponent's pieces, even if such pieces are constrained from moving to ...
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36 votes
3 answers
20k 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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  • 6,080
36 votes
8 answers
30k views

Who did Nigel Short really play on the ICC in 2001 when he thought he was playing Fischer?

In 2001, Nigel Short went public with the opinion that he had in fact played Bobby Fischer on the Internet Chess Club. This was denied by Fischer himself, and the consensus seems to be that it was not ...
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  • 571
32 votes
7 answers
6k 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/...
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31 votes
7 answers
7k views

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

For example, take a Class A (a player with a USCF rating of between 1800 and 1999 inclusive) today and Class A from the 90's. Would the contemporary Class A be stronger because of the updates of ...
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  • 1,897
30 votes
3 answers
9k views

Why wasn’t Rashid Nezhmetdinov a grandmaster?

He won the Russian championship 5 times, so why wasn’t he a grandmaster?
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30 votes
6 answers
11k 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?
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  • 409
29 votes
2 answers
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 ...
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28 votes
5 answers
7k views

Are chess players getting better, given the same rating?

Chess ratings are a relative thing at a particular time, just like boxing. It is not absolute, compared to weightlifting for example, in which the records keep getting broken. How would say a 1700 ...
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  • 409
28 votes
4 answers
10k views

What does this chess proverb mean?

"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 ...
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28 votes
1 answer
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 ...
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26 votes
7 answers
4k 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 -...
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26 votes
5 answers
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 ...
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25 votes
8 answers
17k 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 ...
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  • 539
25 votes
4 answers
3k 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 ...
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24 votes
3 answers
7k views

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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24 votes
3 answers
9k views

How did castling originate?

Castling to me has always 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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23 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
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22 votes
4 answers
4k views

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<number> (King Bishop square number), even books used to have the same notation, then later found that everyone was ...
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  • 3,293
22 votes
2 answers
4k views

Has there been any blunders in resignation?

We know that despite what is shown in the movies and such, most chess games don't end by a "checkmate" move and oftentimes one side realizes that they are losing and resigns before the end. ...
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22 votes
1 answer
17k 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 ...
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21 votes
6 answers
10k views

Why do some openings have Indian in their name?

Why are a few chess openings named King's Indian Defense, Queen's Indian Defense, Nimzo-Indian defense, and so on? What is the significance of Indian in all these opening names? What's India's ...
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  • 711
21 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is the origin, or a early appearance, of this famous chess tale?

There is a story I have found across the Internet of an endgame between two players, usually named as Capablanca versus an extraterrestrial of some sort. According to the Spanish chess Wikipedia, the ...
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21 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why was 50 chosen for the 50-move rule?

The reason for the 50-move rule, along with the triple-repetition rule is to make chess definitely finite. How did one arrive at the number 50? What would change if it was 40 or 60? Is the number 50 ...
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21 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
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  • 23.1k
20 votes
9 answers
57k views

Why is the king powerless and the queen powerful?

Historically, real kings were powerful (Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte etc.) and women were powerless. The game of chess began in Asia, some say, and the women were definitely powerless there....
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  • 5,952
20 votes
9 answers
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 ...
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  • 9,408
19 votes
5 answers
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 ...
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19 votes
5 answers
960 views

Is the chess problem a dead form?

Or, to ask the question a bit less opinionatedly, "what new ideas have been introduced in chess problems over the last 20 years?" I imagine many problems have been composed in that time, but it seems ...
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19 votes
2 answers
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 ...
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18 votes
3 answers
6k views

Was there a chess piece—elephant, knight or rook—rendered as a being looking into two directions?

I have found a chess set of unknown origin with ducks as pieces. Simple ducks for pawns, king and queen crowned and big, okay, but then, for rook, knight and bishop, I don't know. There is a duck ...
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  • 207
18 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
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  • 435
18 votes
3 answers
2k views

THE longest problem ever (much longer than the mere 549 mover...)

The "Fireside Book of Chess" by I. Chernev and F. Reinfeld includes the following diagram [fen "3nk3/3NN3/3PP3/3BB3/3PP3/3PP3/3PP3/2RQKR2 w - - 0 1"] Composed by J.N. Babson for ...
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  • 2,044
18 votes
1 answer
4k 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 ...
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  • 1,698
18 votes
2 answers
2k views

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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17 votes
4 answers
1k 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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  • 3,293
17 votes
1 answer
649 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 ...
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  • 23.1k
16 votes
3 answers
3k 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 ...
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  • 1,677
15 votes
4 answers
10k views

Did Fischer really have a 180 IQ?

I have read many times that Bobby Fischer had an IQ of 180. Did he really have that high of an IQ? Does anyone have proof that he was ever even tested (like a citation from an early book about him)? ...
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  • 31.9k
15 votes
4 answers
864 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?
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15 votes
2 answers
42k 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 ...
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  • 252
15 votes
3 answers
776 views

Why is algebraic notation called algebraic?

How does algebra relate to this chess notation? Why do they call this chess notation algebraic?
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14 votes
5 answers
7k views

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. ...
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14 votes
3 answers
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. (...
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  • 647
14 votes
2 answers
5k views

Game in James Bond film "From Russia with love"

The beginning of the James Bond film From Russia with love (1963) portrays the end of a game between the fictional characters Kronsteen (Czechoslovakia) and Macadams (Canada) in the last and decisive ...
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  • 3,203
14 votes
10 answers
20k views

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 ...
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  • 251
14 votes
2 answers
1k 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?
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