Clarissa Suryapranata, Staff Writer

Although a relatively simple game to learn and play, chess is one of the most difficult board games in the world to master. To be able to win a game of chess, one’s dedication is hugely required to come up with the tricks and strategies so that each piece will be worth its move, protecting all others as well as trapping the opponent’s. The basic rule of chess is that every unique piece moves in its own specific way across the eight-by-eight square-tiled board that alternates in color. For instance, a knight is only allowed to move resembling the shape of the letter “L”, and a bishop is only allowed to move diagonally. 

Tracing back to 1500 years ago, chess originated in India around the sixth century, with its early form known as chaturanga. Chaturanga represented the four divisions of the military at the time: infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariotry; all of which developed into the modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively. Chaturanga was a war game initially invented as a means of expanding tactical abilities and strategic thinking. By the 15th century, it was referred to as the “royal game”. Back then, chess was played in all European countries, where the original name was replaced by versions of the Persian king, from which the English words “check” and “chess” were derived from. 

The rules of chaturanga were modified by different cultures as the game dispersed to other countries in the world. For example, the board game spread to China, where it is known as xiangqi, in the year 750, adopting new regulations that differed from Western chess. Similarly, the game spread to Japan in the year 1100, where it is called shogi. As it reached Europe, Europeans introduced a variety of technical alterations to the game, such as including the ability to move pawns forward two spaces on the first move for the purpose of shortening the overall duration of a game. The modern chess theory started to arise, and the game had integrated into modern European culture by the 19th century. 

Nowadays, chess is an increasingly popular board game played by people of all ages. Playing chess can improve many aspects of one’s cognitive skills such as increased concentration, pattern recognition, and memory capacity. Dutch chess master and psychologist Adriaan de Groot demonstrated that chess masters can quickly identify a position’s key characteristics. According to de Groot, this insight enabled by years of practice and learning is more important than just the ability to predict movement. He had shown that chess masters can almost perfectly remember positions displayed for several seconds. In addition, a relationship between one’s skill in chess and their intelligence has been debated for a while in scientific literature, resulting in the conclusion that most children’s studies have found a positive correlation between general cognitive ability and chess skills.

“I personally enjoy playing chess because it’s a competition between the two players’ management skills,” said Arcadia High School junior Ismael Estevez. “I don’t play strategically, but it does increase my confidence when I beat a more incompetent opponent.”

The concept of chess is incredibly interesting in the sense that each individual has their own way of strategizing different plans as a response to their opponent’s move; this tactic is very beneficial for people to think of approaching situations in more than one way.


Photo by Jani Kaasinen