I was introduced to chess by one of my great-grand uncles when I was just seven years old. Whenever he would visit us in the summers, he would always bring along a chess set and we would play until late in the evening.
This led me to join a school club where, every Friday, we would play board games and chess was one of the most common ones. From then on, my love for chess grew. I have spent many evenings playing chess with my friends and my family.
How Chess helped me evolve
Chess was one of my great-uncle’s many hobbies. He was a very methodical man, who enjoyed playing chess and doing complex mathematical problems. I, however enjoy the creative side of things. As you can see, he and I are very different people but we both enjoyed playing chess together.
Playing chess with my great-grand uncle taught me patience and problem solving. He always encouraged me to think through my actions and their subsequent consequences thoroughly before I commit to anything. This has helped me tremendously throughout my life as it taught me problem solving skills that are essential to everyday life.
The journey from Chaturanga to Chess
The origin of chess is controversial. There is no evidence that chess in its modern form existed before the sixth century. Other similar games existed with dice or more squares. One of those games is an ancient Indian war game called Chaturanga. It is named after a battle formation in the epic Mahabharata. Chaturanga had two features similar to that other chess-like games did not winning was based on one piece- the king and that different pieces had different powers and limitations.
The game spread across Asia taking different forms. Chess reached China in the 750 CE and Korea and Japan in the 11th century. Another variant of Chaturanga reached Europe through the Byzantine Empire, Persia. Modern chess as we know it today, took many years to evolve into the form it is in today.
Chess is a game played on a board of 8×8 contrasting coloured tiles, the most common of which is black and white. The game pieces consist of the royal couple, the King and the Queen, pawns, rooks, castles and knights- a total of sixteen pieces. Most chess games end when a player forces their opponent’s king into a ‘checkmate’ or either resign. Chess is a game of strategy and forethought; something I really enjoy.
The Grandmaster we look up to
The top players worldwide are known as Grandmasters. Grandmaster is a title given to players by The International Chess Federation (FIDE). It is one of the highest titles a chess player can attain. As of 2020, there are 1721 grandmasters worldwide. The title is usually held for a lifetime only revoked in matters pertaining to cheating. One chess player I really look up to is India’s first Chess Grandmaster, Viswanathan Anand, who became a Grandmaster at the age of 18. He is someone my great- uncle also really looked up to.
How Chess is becoming popular again
The Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit follows prodigy Beth Harmon’s foray into the intriguing world of chess. Viewers watch her grow, learning to play as a little girl to win against a Grandmaster. The show reignited an interest in the game of chess among viewers, drastically increasing the sales of chess sets and a new influx of players in online chess portals. For example, eBay had a 215 percent sales increase in sets and related accessories in 2020. In total, there has been ~7x number of people joining a very famous online chess playing portal- chess.com in the 4-month window after The Queen’s Gambit released compared to before!
Chess is a fascinating game played worldwide and is something I treasure as it offers me a personal connection to my deceased great-grand uncle.
Contributor: Ananya Sampath
About our Writing Program Student
Ananya Sampath is a 11th Grade student studying at Legacy School, Bangalore. She enjoys reading, playing badminton and dancing in her free time. She is passionate about history and enjoys learning about new cultures and mythologies.