Chess Facts
Chess Facts

25 Clever Chess Facts

James Israelsen
By James Israelsen, Associate Writer
Published October 6, 2022
  • The chess piece that looks like the turret of a castle is called a "rook," from the original Persian name for the piece, ruhk, meaning "chariot."[1]
  • German chess players call the knight a "jumper" piece because of its unique ability to leap over other pieces.[1]
  • The earliest form of chess was first developed in India at least 1500 years ago.[1]
  • Before the year 1000, all chess pieces were male figures or animals; it wasn't until chess was introduced into southern Europe that the queen made her debut.[7]
  • In 1956, at only 13 years old, Bobby Fischer beat Donald Byrne (age 26), an international chess champion at the time, in what became known as the "Game of the Century."[6]
  • Muslim art and literature from the Middle Ages shows that chess was an extremely popular game played throughout the Arabic world.[1]
  • Chess theorists divide chess into three stages: openings, middle game, and endgame.[1]
  • Just as in modern times, chess strategy was the subject of many treatises written during the Middle Ages in the Arab Empire.[1]
  • Bobby Fischer Facts
    A true chess savant, Fischer was also an unpredictable personality (Lennart Ootes)
  • American-Icelandic chess player Bobby Fischer was one of the youngest grandmasters in history, earning the title at age 15.[6]
  • The Persian epic Explanation of Chatrang and the Invention of Nard tells the story of chess being introduced to the royal court by an envoy from India.[1]
  • There are more unique, possible chess games than there are electrons in the universe.[5]
  • The longest chess game that is possible would consist of 5,949 moves.[5]
  • "Checkmate" derives from the Persian phrase shāh māt, which is alternately translated as "the king is helpless" and "the king is dead."[5]
  • The wealthiest chess player alive is American Hikaru Nakamura, who has a net worth of around $50 million and has won the US championship five times.[3]
  • World-famous chess champion Bobby Fischer has been under indictment in the United States for 3 decades, for agreeing to play a rematch game in Yugoslavia, against whom the United States had declared economic sanctions, as well as for statements made against Jews and in support of the September 11 attacks.[6]
  • At age 22, Garry Kasparov became the youngest world chess champion; the second youngest was Magnus Carlsen, who was also 22 when he earned his world title.[2][4]
  • In 1996, World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov beat IBM's "Deep Blue" supercomputer 4–2 in a best-of-6 match-up. Man and machine rematched in 1997, and the computer won 3.5–2.5 after unusually poor play by Kasparov.[4]
  • The chess-playing supercomputer Deep Blue could calculate 100 to 200 billion different positions in under 3 minutes.[4]
  • Magnus Carlsen
    Norweigian wunderkind Magnus Carlsen has won all the top prizes (Lennart Ootes)
  • Magnus Carlsen is the first chess champion to win in all three categories—blitz, regular, and rapid—in the same year.[2]
  • Because the two roughly coincided in time, some historians speculate that Queen Isabella's powerful reign influenced the expansion of moves that were allowed to the queen piece in chess.[7]
  • Devised in the 19th century by Otto Blathy, the longest known chess problem ever created takes 290 moves to get to checkmate.[5]
  • The longest recorded chess match took 269 moves, only to end in a draw.[5]
  • The world chess champion to hold the title longest was Dr. Emanuel Lasker of Germany, who was champion for just under 27 consecutive years.[5]
  • During the famous 1972 match between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer, Spassky began to play erratically; blaming this on Fischer's chair, the Russians demanded that chemical and x-ray tests be performed on it, but no evidence of anything awry was found.[5]
  • Current chess engines like Stockfish are capable of easily beating Deep Blue, the IBM supercomputer that defeated Garry Kasparov in 1997, as well as all human contenders.[1][5]
  • Cerebral Chess INFOGRAPHIC
    Chess Infographic Thumbnail

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