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The Legends Surrounding the Game of Chess

Jana G.Jana G.

A number of different legends exist about the creation of the game of chess. One of them tells of a despotic raja who lived in India many centuries ago.

One of his loyalists, named Ceta, decided to show him that it was not just his subjects that depended on him but he on them as well. So he invented a game where the king was the key piece but so that he could not win without the support of the rest of the pieces.

The raja accepted the game with joy but didn't really understand what his supporter was trying to show him. The raja offered the inventor of the game a prize of his choice.

According to the ancient legend, the inventor of chess asked to receive his reward in the form of wheat grains. For the 1st square of the chess board he asked to receive 1 grain, for the 2nd - 2, for the 3rd - 4 and so on, with each subsequent square requiring twice the number of grains as the previous.

The mathematicians of the raja's palace stayed up all night calculating exactly how many grains would have to given.

Chess Pieces

Since the chess board has 64 squares, the raja thought that he would have to give his loyalist just 1 sack of grain.

But it turned out that it would be difficult to find that many grains in the entire world, so as to satisfy the demand of the game's inventor. This way, the raja finally understood what his friend and loyal dignitary was trying to tell him.

The history of chess begins in Asia but more specifically, the birthplace of the game is India. The most ancient form of chess is the strategy game chaturanga, which originated in India in 500 B.C.

Later, the game became popular in China and Iran, then in the Arab caliphate. Next, it gained fame in Spain and in Europe it transformed into one of the most interesting forms of entertainment among refined aristocrats. There was a period in Europe when chess was banned by the Church but during the 14th century the ban on the game was lifted.

Based on the legends, the eastern Slavs began playing chess in 500 A.D. But the game of chess as we know it today gained its modern form and rules in the 16th century.