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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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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4 votes
1 answer
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Paul Morphy vs Henry Bird missing games.

The Historical Chess Ratings page claims that Paul Morphy played 12 games with Henry Bird, with a final score of 10.5 - 1.5 (Kasparov's book My Great Predecessors Part I also mentions this (page 55), ...
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14 votes
2 answers
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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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20 votes
9 answers
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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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12 votes
5 answers
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Games that are famous because of their underlying story

I would like this question to be Community Wiki because I hope to collect several answers. Can you name famous games where part of the fame comes from the circumstances surrounding the game? I hope ...
18 votes
3 answers
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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 votes
2 answers
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Professional games that ended with mate

What are some professional games where the losing side did not resign before receiving mate? And how sure are people of the record? In old books they did not care much for complete historical ...
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12 votes
5 answers
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What are the different rules for claiming a draw?

According to the current FIDE rules of chess: The game is drawn upon a correct claim by the player having the move, when the same position, for at least the third time (not necessarily by a ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Which was that Marshall's game with that spectacular Queen sac?

Which was the game where Marshall, I think that with Black, made a spectacular Queen sac in g3 (White pawns on f2, g2, and h2, King in g1). The Black Queen could be taken with the f and h pawns and ...
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24 votes
3 answers
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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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22 votes
1 answer
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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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15 votes
3 answers
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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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6 votes
3 answers
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Online resources for medieval Persian chess games or problems?

I am looking for any collection of chess games of al-Suli or anyone medieval scholar's composition of games. Any resources would be appreciated.
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15 votes
2 answers
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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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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?
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11 votes
2 answers
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What is the origin of descriptive notation?

Algebraic Notation is the modern standard for recording chess games. It is easily human-readable, yet it can be parsed by computers without difficulty. Descriptive notation predates algebraic ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Is there a collection of chess images in public domain?

I am looking for images of chess players, pieces, as well as any other graphics related to chess - public domain only.
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18 votes
2 answers
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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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32 votes
7 answers
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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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2 answers
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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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5 votes
2 answers
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Chess as a De Jure National Sport or Pastime

Capoeira was declared the national sport of Brazil by law in 1972. Sri Lanka legally declared volleyball its national sport in 1992. I'm interested to know more about which countries have (or have ...
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13 votes
3 answers
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The Historical Comparison of Players

Arpad Elo described (chess life 1962) his ratings as "the measurement of the position of a cork bobbing up and down on the surface of agitated water with a yard stick tied to a rope and which ...
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67 votes
12 answers
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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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1 answer
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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 ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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When was the term 'Super Grandmaster' first used?

According to the following wiki link, The unofficial title, "Super Grandmaster", is often used by players to refer to those with a 2700+ rating to distinguish the most serious world ...
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9 votes
2 answers
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What was the first chess-playing automaton?

One well-known automaton is The Turk. What is the first one and when was it constructed, including fake ones? [1]:
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36 votes
8 answers
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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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26 votes
5 answers
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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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13 votes
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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 ...
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13 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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How is chess viewed in USSR vs Post-USSR?

I was reading the following wikipedia article on Mark Taimanov and I was very shocked (I guess I shoudn't be knowing how the Soviets took chess so seriously) that when Taimanov lost to Fischer 6-0 , ...
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13 votes
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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.
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13 votes
4 answers
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What sense does promotion to queen make? [closed]

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. ...
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12 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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23 votes
2 answers
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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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36 votes
3 answers
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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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4 answers
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Has a highly-rated GM ever lost to a low-rated opponent who didn't go on to become a GM?

Has a highly-rated GM ever lost to a low-rated opponent who didn't go on to become a GM? Also, currently has there ever been a GM who lost to low-rated opponents on a consistent basis?
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8 votes
1 answer
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Did Indian systems really have fianchettos?

Wikipedia quotes: The Indian Defences by g6 coupled with d6, or b6 coupled with e6, were largely taught to European players by the example of Moheschunder and other Indians, to whom the ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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What's the highest rating any computer has ever attained?

Along with that, I'd like to know what the highest rating of any human has ever been - including historical estimates.
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21 votes
2 answers
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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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18 votes
1 answer
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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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17 votes
1 answer
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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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25 votes
4 answers
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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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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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24 votes
3 answers
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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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25 votes
8 answers
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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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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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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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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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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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