You can say the harbinger of chess had originated in India. In the early 6th century its first form was played as chaturanga which means the four parts of the military the cavalry, elephantry, infantry, and charity. When in the game, each of these is represented by some wood pieces in the shape of these entities. In the modern day, these are knight, bishop, pawn and rook respectively.
Entry into Persia
Further delving into the history of chess we can say that it was introduced into Persia later from India. It came to be known as chatrang which evolved into the present day name as shatranj. The rules were also changed and developed into the current day form. When the opponent king was attacked and could not escape it was called ‘shah mat’ meaning king is helpless.
These exclamations became very popular and remained as the utterances when a similar occurrence was experienced while playing not only in Persia but also in other lands where it travelled. Yes, chess had found its way to other territories due its unique nature and interest developed specially by the ruling class in the game.
Change of names according to the region of its entry
As the game travelled to different places from Persia the pieces and the game itself got different names. This game became popular in the Muslim world. In Persia, the parts arrived the Persian names, and the game was called Shatranj. In Africa, it was known as shattered. Later it travelled to Europe where there were many name changes like ajedrez, acres or axedrez in Spanish, Xadrez in Portuguese and zatrikion in Greek. The Persian version shah was replaced by other versions like ludus in Latin, escapes in Catalan, Scacchi in Italian and echecs in French. In other countries also different names like say in polish, schaken in Dutch and sahs in Latvian and so on became prevalent.
The theories why the change happened
There are different theories why the change in the name of the game occurred. Usually when the king is cornered the player exclaims check or checkmate as the situation may be. The people of different languages used to pronounce these in their communications. This originated from the original expression shah mat which eventually became the present day checkmate.
It is not easy to pronounce any word from other languages, so the localisation of the words takes place. As in all the words so also in chess, this change of name has occurred, and the game came to be known in the local name rather than shatranj as it was called by Persians and from where it spread to other parts of the world.
Present day chess
Today in the world English is the most popular language. As in many other things, the English names have become popular so has the English name chess become more popular today. The rules also came to change, and some of the moves also changed, but a few of them were retained and are used even today. The number of pieces and the board remains unchanged even now with a total of 32 pieces and 64 square boards. Most of the changes that occurred to modify to the present form came to be done in European countries like Italy and Russia where a lot of development has taken place due to its popularity there.
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Now it is played as a sport which originated in London in 1845. And till date, it has continued to attract many a player to play it as a sport or just for fun. Today you even have the digital version of the game.