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A Concise History of Chess 
by Nazaroo

Perhaps most remarkable and fascinating for collectors are the various styles and versions of the ancient chess pieces themselves. These beautiful and lovingly crafted objects reflect an early age of naïve innocence and freedom of expression nowadays only seen in Bangkok business areas and American ghettos.
Preliminary attempts at identification and classification almost always mistook these items for religious objects or ritual accessories. 

Chess Groupies have been around as long as chess itself. As in the music industry, the trail is littered with the wrecked lives of aspiring hopefuls, who cracked under the pressure of simultaneous games. 


A Chess game in progress from Ancient Nineveh: Note the placing of pawns on the end of the knight's pikes, from where we get the phrase 'hanging pawns'.
Originally chess moves were expressed through gestures and grunts. The ambiguity and warmongering over chess etiquette caused the Babylonians, Assyrians to find better means of communicating moves and recording games.
Stone carvings, although durable, were impractical, and so papyrus was tried and the scribal profession was born. Stonemasons were furious but couldn't really compete with paperback reprints. 

Coptic Petroglyphs of figures with unusual numbers of eyes and antenna, now known to be chess pieces.
 The earliest recorded evidence of chess is found in rock petro-glyphs and cave paintings. These were originally thought to indicate alien visitors but more recent investigations have made clear the purpose of such drawings was to illustrate chess puzzles.


Wall Painting from the Tomb of Queen Nefertari:
In Ancient times the 'touch and move' rule was enforced by rapping the knuckles with a small paddle.
 The first systematic chess notation was invented by the ancient Egyptians. It was not meant to be obscure, but such early efforts had drawbacks. In the example above not only is it hard to tell which move belongs to whom, but the poor choice of perspective for early board diagrams makes it hard to read the position shown. 

Early Egyptian version of Speed Chess: Savings in board costs enabled the masses to take up the game.
 Early democratic reforms allowed even Hebrew slaves to learn how to play chess. Bobby Fischer regarded the spread of chess to the masses as a mixed blessing for chess as a sport. Of course it naturally led to a direct confrontation between the Pharaoh and God, with disastrous results for the Egyptian monarchic form of government. 


Arabic Manuscript from the Islamic Period:
The inscription reads: "My son, whatever you do, don't take the Queen's Knight Pawn!"
 The Arabians were able to improve on things greatly with a simpler notation based on scribbling. The making of graven images for chess was expressly forbidden: Idolatry was avoided and frugality was enforced by using bits of paper rather than actual chess pieces.


Demonstration Games were popular, as this court reporter's drawing shows. Here a 'Simultaneous game' is being played, where ancient rules allowed both players to move at the same time.

Animal trainers experimented freely in the romantic period of public chess exhibitions. It is now known that the best chess players are really chimpanzees, who share 90% of their DNA with man.

                          Biblical Times

Bible Manuscript showing the Sermon on the Plain:
Here Jesus expounds The Parable of the Bad Bishop.
Most people know that Jesus taught in parables. But few are aware that many of his parables were actually profound chess puzzles. His compositions continue to baffle grandmasters and bedazzle analysts today.
Jesus was able to instill new life into the most hopeless of positions for teaching purposes. He would often win the exchange against his opponents, exposing the bankruptcy of contemporary theory. In the endgame Jesus preferred the Opposition, defeating his foes by accepting unsound gambits.


Women Chessmasters shown here trouncing boys:
"It beats the hell out of mansex!" - anonymous female

Chess flourished during the Renaissance Period as a popular woman's game. When it became obvious that women were far better at it than men, teaching women to read and write seemed unfair, and was phased out.

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