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Origins of chess

The origins of chess is one of the most controversial areas of board gaming history. While it is generally thought that chess originated from India, the evidence for this theory is weak, although stronger than the evidence for most other theories.

The countries which, at one time or the other, have been associated with invention of chess have included China, India, Egypt, Greece, Assyria, Persia, Arabia, Ireland and Uzbekistan.

The earliest evidence for chess is the middle-Persian epic Karnamak-i-Artakhshatr-i-Papakan[?] which mentioned the hero as being skilled at chess (more details at Chess in early literature), this work is dated with some reserve at 600 CE, the work could be as early as 260 CE and as late as 1000 CE. The earliest evidence which we can date with some certainty is in early arabic chess literature dating from the early 9th century.

Although no strong evidence exists, it is commonly speculated that the game entered Persia during the reign of Khusraw I Nshrwn[?] (531-578CE).

Many of the early works on chess gave a legendary history of the invention of chess, often associating it with Nard (a game of the Tables variety like Backgammon) however only limited credence can be given to these. Even as early as the tenth century Zakaria Yahya[?] commented on the chess myths, "It is said to have been played by Aristotle, by Yafet Ibn Nuh (Japhet son of Noah), by Sam ben Nuh[?] (Shem), by Solomon for the loss of his son, and even by Adam when he grieved for Abel". In one case the invention of chess was attributed to Moses (by the rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra 1130 CE).

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Theories of the origin of chess



The main claim for Irish origin is the claim that 2 chess tables were bequested in the will (http://www.kinsella.org/history/cathair.htm) of Cathair Mor[?] who died in 153 CE. The Celtic game of fidchell is believed to be a battle game (as opposed to a hunt game like tafl or brandub) like chess, and possibly a descendant of the Roman game ludus latrunculorum.

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