July 2014

A Brief History of Chess

       The history of chess spans some 1500 years, the earliest predecessor of the game probably having originated in India before the 6th century AD.  From India the game spread to Persia, then by Arab conquest to the Muslim world and subsequently to Southern Europe, where it evolved into its current form in the 15th century.  At that time it was played mainly by the royalty and the clergy.  The following is the first recorded game played under modern rules (but before castling was pemitted)  in the year 1485.  Center Counter Defense, Barcelona, Francesco di Castellvi vs Narciso Vinyoles, 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. h3 Bxf3 7. Qxf3 e6 8. Qxb7 Nbd7 9. Nb5 Rc8 10. Nxa7 Nb6 11. Nxc8 Nxc8 12. d4 Nd6 13. Bb5+ Nxb5 14. Qxb5+ Nd7 15. d5 exd5 16. Be3 Bd6 17. Rd1 Qf6 18. Rxd5 Qg6 19. Bf4 Bxf4 20. Qxd7+ Kf8 21. Qd8 mate

       The modern chess set design known as the Staunton was formulated by architect Nathan Cook in 1849 to provide uniformity in an era of diverse set designs and endorsed by Howard Staunton, the strongest English player of that period.  It was an immediate success and has been the standard ever since.  During that period, clubs began to be formed and tournaments organized, giving chess a wider folowing.

      The "Romantic Era of Chess" was the predominant playing style down to the 1880s, characterized by swashbuckling attacks, clever combinations, brash piece sacrifices and dynamic games. Winning was secondary to winning with style. These games were focused more on artistic expression rather than technical mastery or long-term planning, a philosophy which has been subverted over the years and which I can't help but feel that we are the worse for having lost.  It was an evolution from art to science and sport.  In the second half of the 19th century, modern tournament play began, with the first World Championship held in 1886 being won by Wilhelm Steinitz. There have been 15 undisputed world champions since then up to the current champion Magnus Carlsen.  A complete list of titleholders follows the article.  

     The 20th century saw great leaps forward in chess theory from the Classical, which promoted the control of the center, to the Hypermodern, which did not deny the center's importance but went about attempting to control it in a different fashion by initially presenting it to White and then attacking it from the flanks. Developments in the 21st century include the use of computers for analysis, which originated in the 1970s with the first programmed chess games on the market, and online gaming, which appeared in the mid-1990s and has grown in popularity to the present, making chess available to everyone 24 hours a day worldwide.

      Chess has indeed aptly been called the "King of Games".


World Chess Champions

Wilhelm Steinitz (1886-1894)

 •Emanuel Lasker (1894-1921) 

•Jose Raul Capablanca (1921-1927) 

•Alexander Alekhine (1927-1935, 1937-1946) 

•Max Euwe (1935-1937) 

•Mikhail Botvinnik (1948-1957, 1958-1960, 1961-1963) 

•Vasily Smyslov (1957-1958) 

•Mikhail Tal (1960-1961) 

•Tigran Petrosian (1963-1969) 

•Boris Spassky (1969-1972) 

•Robert James "Bobby" Fischer (1972-1975) 

•Anatoly Karpov (1975-1985) 

•Garry Kasparov (1985-2000) 

•Vladimir Kramnik (2000-2007) 

•Viswanathan Anand (2007-2013)

•Magnus Carlsen (2013-current)

All Welcome!

No fees.
Sets and boards are provided.
Players of all skill levels are welcome.

Club Hours

Every Saturday Afternoon
2:00 pm - 4:30 pm for casual play


North Durham Regional Library
221 Milton Road
Durham, NC 27701


Contact Us

Club Director
Conrad Conero