14 Chess Facts For You To Check, Mate!
Are you obsessed with this tricky game of Kings and Queens? Never be board again with this epic list of unbelievable chess facts!
The game of chess isn’t just black and white! This ancient game is much loved by everyone from Persian Kings to grumpy old Russian blokes to the legendary Polgar sisters! And with good reason too – as we’ll find out, a game of chess can have an almost infinite number of twists and turns. Oh, and it’s a great way to keep your brain sharp! Do you already know about Chess? Or are you more of a rook-ie? Read on and find out how much you really know about chess!
If you’d rather find out about a different game or sport, then you can also check out these cracking cat’s cradle facts, these weird and wonderful Wimbledon facts, or even have a hoot at these blamtastic boxing jokes! Facts and jokes for everyone!
Ok, well – back to chess, then!
1. It’s probably from India
Chess is a really old game, and because it’s so old it’s very hard to work out who actually invented it. Most people think it was invented in India sometime in the 6th Century CE (so at least 1400 years ago!) and was then spread by Buddhists to China and Persia (modern day Iran). Either way, early chess probably would have looked very different to the game we know and love today!
2. It’s always been a game of strategy
Whatever it’s origins, chess has always been connected to strategy. From the start, the early Indian name for the game was “chaturanga.” It was played by four players, representing different branches of the military, and featured the earliest versions of the modern chess pieces. Historians guess it was used by people in the army to practise their tactics (as well as have fun, probably).
3. Every game really is different!
The number of potential moves and positions in a game of chess is more than all the estimated atoms in the universe combined! Scientists reckon there are about 10^80 atoms in the Universe (that’s 10 with 80 zeroes after it) whereas the number of different chess game possibilities is 10^120. Phew! So the likelihood of you playing exactly the same game twce is basically nil! Phew… it makes your head just thinking about it!
4. And it could go on for a really long time!
The longest game of Chess can last about 5,900 moves based on the various movement combinations. This is the maximum number of moves that a game can continue without a player claiming a draw. There are over 1,000 different opening possibilities alone!
5. Queens weren’t always so powerful
Queens are the most versatile and powerful piece on the board these days – but it wasn’t always this way. In medieval times, the queen could hardly do anything on the board! It wasn’t until the 15th century that the queen’s moves expanded to their current unrestricted glory. Some think this was influenced by the rise of powerful real-life Queens like Isabella I of Castile and Elizabeth I of England. But who knows!
6. Russia is top dog
Whilst chess has Indian roots and a long history in Asia, more recently it’s been the Russians who have taken all the records. Russia dominates the game and has more grandmasters than all other countries! The nation has more than 250 grandmasters! Very impressive!
7. Meet the Polgars
Fortepan Adományozó URBÁN TAMÁS Via Wikimedia Commons
One of the greatest families in Chess history is the Polgar family from Hungary. The dad, Lazslo Polgar was a chess teacher, and he trained his three daughters Judit, Sofia and Susan to be Chess masters! They each grew up to be record breaking chess players, and each became Grandmasters or International Masters in the game. We’ll hear more about one of them, Susan, in a moment!
8. Simultaneous Susan!
…is a rubbish nickname! But it’s kind of appropriate for Susan Polgar, one of the famous Polgar sisters, who pulled off an incredible feat in 2005! She played 1,131 chess games at the same time, and won 99% of them! Over a period of 16 hours, she wandered for miles back and forth between tables, really showing off how good she is at chess! Go on Susan!
9. What on Earth is Chessboxing?
Well, it is what it sounds like! Chess and boxing have been combined into a very weird sport called chessboxing! Players switch between chess and boxing rounds, challenging their minds and muscles. You have to really keep your cool in between rounds, as an angry chess player can easily make the wrong move and lose!
10. Man vs Machine
In 1997, the chess world saw an epic clash between the reigning world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, and IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue. Deep Blue made history by defeating Kasparov in the first game. Nowadays it’s common for chess playing computers to beat humans, but this event marked a big moment in chess history, and showed off the increasing power of artificial intelligence in the sport.
11. Magnus vs Hans
Magnus Carlsen is well known as one of the greatest players ever, and has been called the “Mozart” of chess by some people. But out of nowhere, a much younger upstart called Hans Niemann beat him, despite being much lower ranked. Magnus refused to play him again, and accused him of cheating – although no actual evidence has ever been found. So we still don’t know the truth – was Hans cheating? Or is Magnus just a really bad loser? You decide!
12. The 48 game match
Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi once held a marathon 48-game match during the 1978 World Chess Championship. This grueling battle of wits lasted nearly three months and was filled with tension, psych outs, and political arguments (it was during the Cold War and Korchnoi had decided to leave the USSR). Karpov emerged as the victor after months of chess, but the match has gone down as one of the most intense in chess history. Phew!
13. Cheeky chess-playing priests!
At different times, lots of religions have banned the playing of Chess. In the middle ages, priests weren’t allowed to play it as it distracted them from God. Or something. But some sneaky priest in AD 1125 got around the rules by inventing… the world’s first foldable chess board! The board was designed to look like a book when it was folded up – making it easy to hide from any moody bishops who were trying to catch you out. Smart thinking!
14. Chess is good for you!
As well as making you look very smart and cool – Chess is actually good for you! It can keep your brain sharp, and playing chess in older age can slow mental problems like dementia. But you don’t need to wait until then – playing chess has been shown to improve your memory and problem solving however old you are! So there you have it… as if you needed another reason to play!
14 Chess Facts For You To Check, Mate! Are you obsessed with this tricky game of Kings and Queens? Never be board again with this epic list of unbelievable chess facts! 🤣 Beano Team Last Updated: July 20th 2023 The game of chess isn’t just black and white! This ancient game is much loved by