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Keyword Query: Chess Game History
You're interested in learning a bit more about the History of Chess.

Okay, we'll keep it brief on this page, as we've gone into more detail in our article Who Invented Chess?, which you can access immediately, from the Navigation menu (to the left of this page); or, at the end of this page, from the Recommended Links.

The following is based on accounts from various books and online references. It's presented on a country-by-country basis, which serves as a kind of rough timeline.

We start this chess game history article at the country believed to have created an early version of Chess. Actual dates are more vague, the earlier back in time you get.

What's interesting, is you can track the spread of the game. from Spain, onwards, due to the records kept about "leading Chess players" of the time. (Again, this chess game history article is going to be brief, so refer to our article, Who Invented Chess?, for more detail).


The early forerunner, to modern Chess, is believed to be an Indian game - at the time of the Gupta Empire (circa. AD 280 - AD 550) - known as Chaturanga, which translates from Sanskrit into a military term, meaning "Four Divisions ". Those four divisions were:

  • Elephant Division
  • Chariot Division
  • Horseback Division
  • Foot-soldier Division


The Sassanid Persians were neighbours of North West India who, through trade or diplomatic relations, probably became aware of Chaturanga.

The Sassanid Persians, however, referred to the game as "Chatrang", while the Muslim population referred to it as "Shatranj", following their Islamic conquest of Persia, between AD 633 and AD 644.

North Africa

As far as my chess game history knowledge is aware, Black African and Arab descendants brought Shatranj across to Morocco, in North West Africa.

Morocco has easier access to mainland Europe, from the northern tip at Tangier, into southern Spain and it is believed that Shatranj was imported into Spain during the AD 900s.

Spain & Portugal

Southern Europe, during the 1200s, is credited with being where and when the Rules of Chatranj were modified, into the more-recognisable game we know as Chess.

It's most likely the Spaniards and Portuguese played a significant role in the development of Chess.

Spain also appears to be the country with the first, recognized "leading Chess player", namely Franci de CastellvĂ­, in 1475; while Portugal had Pedro Damiano (1520) and El Morro (1560-1575) claiming top honours, for their country respectively.

From here, onwards, record keeping allows us to follow a trail of "leading Chess players", which gives more of a clue as to how Chess spread through Western Europe and outwards, globally.

Italy & Sicily

Italy & Sicily appears to be the next stop on our short chess game history tour, with Leonardo da Cutri, from the Kingdom of Naples, being regarded as the leading player, in 1575.

Between 1575 and 1640, the leading Chess player switched between the Kingdom of Sicily and the Kingdom of Naples.


Given that, via land, you need to pass through Southern France, to get to Italy, it's surprising that a country as cultured as France didn't have a leading Chess player until Legall de Kermeur, in 1730.

France became something of a "central hub for Chess", from 1730 to around about 1843-1850.

While, jumping ahead a bit, to 1924, the French are also credited with forming the World Chess Federation, better known as FIDE.

Austrian Empire

Johann Baptist Allgaier was hailed as the leading Chess player, between 1795-1815, who claimed the honour for the Austrian Empire, which is probably where the likes of modern Germany, Poland, Belgium, Slovakia, and other modern countries in the vacinity, can point to, as to where Chess came to be known to them.

UK & Ireland

England first had a leading Chess player, through Jacob Henry Sarrat, in 1805 ... Although, he wasn't the first Brtain to lead the way - that honour goes to travelling Scotsman, Alexander Cunningham of Block, back in 1700, who bisected the champions from Italy/Sicily and France, respectively.

Chess was starting to become much more of an organized sport from about 1850, onwards - this, as already mentioned, eventually lead to the creation of FIDE and Official Chess Championships began to take place, attracting a wider audience to the game.

To read more chess game history and to see when the Americans and Russians started to make big waves in Chess, click the link, below, to our article Who Invented Chess.

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