Highlights in the History of Chess


6th century AD – Presumed advent of the game we know as chess (in India).

1495 – Birth of modern chess: To mirror Queen Isabel (and other powerful female figures like Eleanor of Aquitaine) the chess queen is made the most powerful piece on the board. (Isabel is known for her role in the Spanish Inquisition and for sending Columbus west).

15th-17th centuries– Europe responds to the more powerful queens by allowing kings to leap over a piece on their first move. Eventually this morphs into modern castling, which solidifies by the 17th century.

Pawns may advance 2 squares on their first move.

1849 – Howard Staunton (considered the best player in the world at the time) enthusiastically endorses 6 simple, elegant chess piece designs that continue to be the most widely used and recognized throughout the world today.

1851 – In what became known as the “Immortal Game,” Adolf Anderssen sacrifices a bishop, both rooks and his queen to Lionel Kieseritzky before checkmating him. Kieseritzky is stunned, having lost only 3 pawns (and his pride).

1886 – First official world chess championship match. First player to win 10 games takes the title. Initial 5 games are played in New York City, the next 4 in St. Louis, and the final 11 in New Orleans. Austrian Wilhelm Steinitz wins 10-5 along with 5 draws.

1924 – Birth of the World Chess Federation (FIDE)

1972 – American Bobby Fischer handily wins the World Chess Title against the monolithic Russian juggernaut in the person of Boris Spassky. It is the first (and last!) time an American has achieved that distinction. This match is still widely considered the greatest event in chess history.

1997 – The rise of computers: Deep Blue defeats World Champion Garry Kasparov, signaling the end of human domination of classical chess.

2019 – First Fischerandom chess tournament. In an unprecedented move, FIDE recognizes a new variety of chess, stating, “Fischer Random is a positive innovation: It injects new energies and enthusiasm into our game. It has won the favor of the chess community, including the top players and the world champion himself. FIDE couldn’t be oblivious to that: It was time to embrace and incorporate this modality of chess.”

2020 – Invention of HYDRA (short-board random-introduction chess).

“The old chess is too limited. Imagine playing cards…and every time the dealer has the same starting hand – you have the same starting hand. What’s the point?” ~ Bobby Fischer

2025 – Pawns may advance 1 or 2 squares on ANY move?

Pawns may move sideways?

Allowed to kill your own piece in order to advance on your opponent, or to escape check?