Chess -a great board game | Sunday Observer

Chess -a great board game

30 May, 2021
Magnus Carlson
Magnus Carlson

Chess is one of my favourite indoor games. It is played on a ‘chess board’ or a square board divided into 64 squares similar to a ‘checkers board’. The first folding chess board was originally invented in 1125 by a chess-playing priest. Since the Church forbids priests to play chess, he hid his chess board by making one that looked simply like two books lying together.

The lighter coloured squares are called ‘white squares’ and the darker coloured squares are called ‘black squares’. The first light and dark square chess board appeared in Europe in 1090.

Sixteen black coloured and white coloured pieces are placed on either side of the board. The board is placed so that a white square is in each player’s near-right corner. Horizontal rows are called ranks and vertical rows are called files.

Each player controls 16 pieces and they are two rooks, a queen, a king, eight pawns, two knights and two bishops. Each type of chess piece has its own method of movement. A rook moves horizontally and vertically, the queen is the piece which has the highest value and the only piece that can move vertically, horizontally and diagonally. The king is the main piece of the game. If the king is threatened and can’t be moved to a safer side it is the end of the game.

The king can move horizontly, vertically and diagonally but can move one square only at a time. At the beginning, a pawn can move two squares forward and after that it can only move one square at a time and this system was first introduced in Spain in 1280.

When it comes to capturing a pawn it can only be captured diagonally and it cannot move backwards.

When a pawn comes to the last square it can change or transform into any other piece such as a queen, a rook or a bishop but cannot transform into a king.

A knight cannot move vertically, horizontally or diagonally but only can move in a ‘L’ shape (moving two squares horizontally and two squares vertically or moving two squares vertically and two squares horizontally). A bishop can move forward and backwards diagonally.

If the king or the rook haven’t been moved it can ‘castle’ by moving the king two squares towards a rook, then placing the rook on the other side of the king. It’s not allowed to move both the king and the rook at the same time, because each move must be played with one hand only.

A checkmate is when the king is placed in check and there is no legal move that a player can make to escape the check. The game ends and that player loses.

The word ‘checkmate’ in chess comes from the Persian phrase Shah Mat which means ‘the King is dead’. ‘Stalemate’ also called a draw usually occurs in ‘dead positions’ and when an opponent can’t move but doesn’t have a ‘check’. The first mechanical ‘Chess Clock’ was invented by Thomas Wilson in 1883. The second book printed in English was about chess.

Magnus Carlson

Magnus Carlson is a Norwegian chess grandmaster who is the current chess champion. He is also the World Rapid chess champion and the World Blitz chess champion. Carlson first reached the top of the FIDE World ranking in 2010. His peak classical rating of 2882 is the highest in history. Carlson also holds the record for the longest unbeaten run in classical chess. The longest time recorded for a chess player to make a move, goes to the International Grand Master Trois from Brazil with two hours and 20 minutes on the 7th move.

The first ever chess tournament was in London in May 1851. It was organised by English player Howard Stauton and was the first time that the best chess players in Europe met at a single event. Adolf Andersen of Germany won the sixteen player tournament and it earned him the title of the ‘best player in the world’.

About 600,000,000 (Six hundred million) people worldwide know how to play chess The oldest recorded chess game in history is from the 900s, between a historian from Baghdad and his student.

 I love to play chess because it’s fun and enjoyable. It improves your thinking power and your concentration. I play chess as an extra activity in school. These days we practise school chess from a website called During the lockdown period this was one game that I was able to play online with my friends. I have participated in many chess tournaments.

Last week I participated in my first online chess tournament after last year’s pandemic. We had it on zoom, we had to log to an online chess website and an arbiter was watching us while we were playing. We had it for two days and I had a wonderful experience.

Sandali Perera

Grade 7

Bishops College