🡪 Given the new Netflix sensation The Queen’s Gambit this could be a fun, short piece to add
Checkmate! 7 fascinating facts about chess
Exploring the history and culture of chess
Published January 22, 2021 by
Aleksandra Strzelichowska (Europeana Foundation)
The Netflix's hit TV series 'The Queen's Gambit' has started a massive surge of interest in chess. Whether you bought your first set inspired by the story of Beth Harmon or you played chess 'before it was cool', let's explore seven fascinating facts about this game.
The word 'Checkmate' takes its origin from the Persian phrase 'Shah Mat' which means 'the king is dead'.
- Record breaker
The longest title holder of the World chess championship is Doctor Emanuel Lasker from Germany. He held this title for 26 years and 337 days. Emanuel Lasker was a good friend of Albert Einstein.
- Time keeping
The first mechanical chess clock was invented by Thomas Wilson in 1883. Before this discovery, hourglasses with sand were used to track time during the games.
- Print pioneers
The second book in history to be printed in English was about chess. William Caxton translated it from French into English, and it was printed in 1474.
Blindfold chess is a way of playing chess when the players do not see the pieces and have to memorise their positions. For centuries, it was considered a skill only prodigies had. Nowadays, the best players can play multiple blindfold games simultaneously.
- For all ages
Chess is one of the few sports and activities where children can compete with adults.
Samuel Reshevsky (1911-1992) was an early child prodigy, who learned to play chess at the age of four. By the age of eight, he was winning against accomplished players in simultaneous games.
- Surviving sets
The Lewis Chessmen are one of the oldest surviving complete chess sets in the world. They were found on the Isle of Lewis and date to the 12th century.
Checkmate! 7 fascinating facts about chess Exploring the history and culture of chess by Aleksandra Strzelichowska sourced from Europeana which is under licence CC0 1.0 (photo size modified)