Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Chess game-invented in ancient India

migration of chess game. indiadefnce.com
Chess, now a popular international game, first originated before the 6th century AD from India The history of chess is roughly 1500 years. The game, at last, spread to the western world through Persians and Arabs who were mostly traders.
According to Robinson & Estes (1996) the early form of chess was introduced during the Gupta Empire. The early form,  known as Chaturanga in the 6th century, referred to the ''four divisions of the military  infantry, cavalry, elephantry  and chariotry.  These forms are the modern equivalent of  pawn, knight, bishop and rook respectively.

 Some historians believe that this game had early beginning during the Kushan Empire in ancient Afghanistan. The 6th century Chaturanga- the earliest chess game seemed to have two essential attributes found in later chess variations. The different pieces have different powers and the final   victory depends on the king's position or move. This game may be the outcome of the mathematical skill of the ancient people of India.  The records from the Indus civilization     2600-1500 BC show the use of a board game  much similar to chess. Astapada (astha means eight) and Dasapada (dasa means ten) were other board games of interest invented in ancient India.

A possible forerunner of  Chess is an Indian game known as  Ashtapada, which means in Sanskrit a square board of 64 squares, 8 rows of 8 squares, was played with dice and pieces, a race game possibly going back to the fifth century BC. Chinese records mention its introduction from India to China as early as 220 BC to 65 AD, roughly during the early Han Dynasty.
The possibility of a race-game being a forerunner of Chess is preserved in the promotion of a pawn to a piece upon  reaching the 8th row. In Hinduism  gambling is a taboo. . The revival of Hinduism during the Gupta Dynasty led to strict control  of this anti gambling policy in the 6th century AD. This is used as an argument by some scholars for supporting the idea of an Indian origin of Chess. It is stated that the suppression of dice forced the transformation of a race game into a strategic game.

Davidson, 1949 studied the "Geography of Chess". Starting with India he finds four major radiations: A  northeast radiation into China, between 800 and 1000 AD  along the Silk Road; a southeast radiation into Burma and Indo-China, between 800 and 1100 AD;  a westward radiation into Persia and the Arab countries, between 600 and 800 AD, reaching Spain before the 1008 battlefield will of the Count of Uregel, which directed the inheritance of his Chess-pieces;and a northward radiation into Siberia, between 1400 and 1500 AD.

Ashtapada, an ancient Hindu race game played with dice on an 8 x 8 board, which later might have become the Chess-board. The method of play for Ashtapada has been forgotten. It seems logical that there has to be an incentive for succeeding in a race, which is given by the conversion of a pawn into an officer, when the pawn reaches the last row 8. To change a gambling game into a strategic race game requires some strategic possibilities to block or speed up the race, such as opposite pawns and the possibility to take an opposite piece by a diagonal move.

Because of the dearth of reports about follow-up within India during the next 500 years after 600 AD the theory about India being the original country seems to hold together.

Ref:
http://www.silkroadfoundation.org/newslette/volumeonenumberone/origin.html

Henry A.. Davidson, A Short History of Chess, NewYork 1949, 228 pages.


Richard Eales,, CHESS -The History of a Game, New York 1985, 240 pages

H.. J. R. Murray, A History of Chess, Oxford University Press 1913,900 pages.