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20 Feb 2024


Written by
The Logical Indian
Culture and Sport

The Early Precursors: Chaturanga to Shatranj

Chess finds its earliest predecessor in the ancient Indian war game of chaturanga, mentioned in the Mahabharata. By the 7th century, chaturanga evolved into shatranj, introducing distinct powers for different pieces and the pivotal role of the king – elements fundamental to modern chess.

Transmission and Transformation: Spread to Europe

As Shatranj spread eastward to China and beyond, it underwent transformations on its journey to Europe. Influences from Persian, Byzantine, and Arabian cultures shaped the game's development as it traversed across continents, ultimately finding its way into Europe through various channels.

Adoption and Association: Chess in European Courts

Despite periodic bans, chess gained favor among European royalty, earning the moniker "royal game" by the 15th century. Kings and monarchs embraced chess as a symbol of wealth, knowledge, and power, further cementing its status as a strategic pursuit of the elite.

Standardization and Evolution: Rules and Pieces

The standardization of chess rules occurred gradually, with regional variations persisting until crucial rule changes after 1475. The transformation of the counsellor into the modern queen and the introduction of castling and en passant capture enriched the game's complexity and strategy. Chess pieces also evolved, from simple designs to ornate figurative sets, culminating in the modern Staunton pattern in 1835.

Acknowledging Origins: Chess's Indian Heritage

While the exact origins of chess remain elusive, historical evidence points to its official origin from the Gupta Empire in ancient India around 600 CE. Despite claims of earlier origins, the game played by ancient Egyptians differed significantly from the modern iteration. Chess's journey from ancient India to its global prominence stands as a testament to its enduring appeal and cultural richness.


Chess, with its origins rooted in ancient India, has evolved from a war game into a global phenomenon. Its transmission, transformation, and adoption across cultures have shaped its rich tapestry of history. As we celebrate the enduring legacy of chess, let us remember its Indian roots and the profound impact it continues to have on strategic gaming worldwide.

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IndiaFirst Life & the logical indian

Headquartered in Mumbai, IndiaFirst Life Insurance Company Limited (IndiaFirst Life), is one of the country's youngest life insurance companies. The Logical Indian is an independent and public-spirited digital media platform for Indian Millennials. IndiaFirst Life and The Logical Indian have come together to showcase India’s rich history of innovation in different fields of life which have made a significant mark on humanity and globally. Please note, The Logical Indian (5w1h Media) as an entity is responsible for source validation and fact-checking from credible sources of the articles posted on this page.