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In the third episode of "The Wire", D'Angelo Barksdale, the hard but secretly soft-hearted Baltimore drug-dealer, comes across two of his narco underlings sitting at a chess board. Except they aren't playing chess - they don't know how. "Yo, why y'all playin' checkers on a chess set?" he asks.


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The familiarity of it

The familiarity of it

Chess is more familiar than you think.

  • There is a king who doesn't do much himself because everybody "got his back."
  • There's a queen who does whatever she likes.
  • The bishops, knights, and rooks get stuff done.
  • Then the pawns are like the foot soldiers and tend to get caught quickly. Unlike the other pieces, they have prospects. If a pawn stays alive long enough and gets to the other side of the board, it gets to be queen. 




The history of chess

  • Chess emerged in fifth-century India. In ancient India, there were no bishops, castles, or queens, but elephants, chariots, and ministers of war.
  • In early Islam, the game was played with elegant cylinders and conicals in ivory or stone.
  • In the 12th -century Norway the kings were bearded brutes with lustrous hair, flanked by shield-biting berserkers.
  • Chess standardized in the 19th century and became the Staunton version we play with today.



Chess is a great teacher

Chess either gets you hooked or makes you avoid it because it is not played enough.

The number of different possible positions on the board adds up to 10 to the power of 120. The numbers of the pieces involved are frequently quoted and always unimaginable.

But chess is a game of logical consequences and sly entrapment. It is a magnetic field of forces that are charged with energy. It is an endless pursuit that gives it an edge.




Early European chess players changed the game

Early European chess players changed the game

Early European chess players turned the chess game to reflect their society's political structure.

  • Originally, chess was a game of war. Horsemen, elephant-riding...

Chess: The transformation of the queen

  • Initially, the chess queen could only move one square.
  • In the 15th century, the queen gained unlimited movement in any direction.
  • The queen's elevation to the strongest piece appeared first in Spain during the time when the powerful Queen Isabella was on the throne.

Chess is 'life in miniature'

The 13th-century Dominican friar Jacobus de Cessolis described the ways each chess piece contributes to a harmonious social order.

  • He distinguished paws by trade and connected each to its royal partner.
  • The first pawn is a farmer and tied to the castle because he provides food to the kingdom.
  • The second pawn is a blacksmith who makes armour for the knight.
  • The third is an attorney who helps the bishop with legal matters.

Jacobus's allegory becomes the central message of the mini-series "The Queen's Gambit." Beth becomes a figurative queen after she learns to work with other players. Just like the pawn, she converts in her final game.

How to get good at chess

How to get good at chess

We can only get good at chess by loving it.

Every game should teach you something. Play people better than you and be prepared to lose. Then you will learn.

The beginner chess player

Start to set out the pawns, then add the pieces. Understand how a pair of bishops can dominate the board, or how rooks can take pawns in an endgame.

Once you know the basics, start using computers and online resources to play and analyse games. Don't just play against the computer - find human opponents online or in person.

Study the games of great chess masters

Find a player you identify with and follow their careers, such as Bobby Fisher, Morphy, Alekhine, Capablanca, Tal, Korchnoi, Shirov, and other legendary figures.

They also have fascinating life stories you can get familiar with.

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Egyptian Senet

Egyptian Senet

One of the earliest known board games, Senet was played in 3100 BC and loved by Queen Nefertari and the Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Played using a longboard having three rows of ten squar...

The Royal Game Of Ur

  • Also known as Twenty Squares, this 4500-year-old game, first unearthed in ancient Mesopotamia, is impressive in its complex rules and intricate design.
  • The beautiful game board uses twenty squares and has a narrow bridge in the middle part, was played in Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and many other ancient civilizations.
  • To finish the game as winners, players had to race their opponent to the opposite end of the board, moving pieces according to knucklebone dice rolls.

The Game of Mehen

  • Named after the Egyptian serpentine deity, Mehen is also known as the Egyptian Snake Game and was played between 3100 to 2300 BC.
  • Six players could simultaneously play this spiral board, each having a piece crafted in the shape of a lion or a sphere.
  • The rules of this game are not very clear because it lost its popularity after the decline of Egypt’s Old Kingdom and is hardly found in archaeological records.