Talk:History of chess/Archive 1

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Persian Origins[edit]

The main arguement used in this article to suggest that chess originated from India, is weak. The words used today in modern chess to describe the pieces and some moves mostly come from Iran. I reccomend you either have this part removed if you wish to continue with the notion that chess originated from india, or correctly state the origins of the names given to pieces.

Such words include, terms like check mate mate comes from the Persian Maat, which is old persian for something on the lines of - "out of options" or "Nothing to do". This is one example of the origins of terms used in modern day chess.

Elephants were also used in ancient persia, The word Rook, also originates from persia, coming from the old persian word of Rookh.

last time i checked this article, it said that chess originated from iran, how come it keeps on changing. On both sides of the story there is not enough evidence. All we can agree upon, is that chess originated in either the Aryan states of iran or india. And this in my opinion should be the final conclusion to chess's origins in the article.

give evidence! we do not want, "it is beleived to be" give evidences from the sanskrit or the avesta, if not the article should be neurtral.

also i like to point out that the oldest ever Chess Board discovered was Persian. (you can obviously see where my stance is)

Neverthelss if their is not enough evidence or facts, in my opinion the article should be neutral.

Please sign your edits. And what do you mean give evidence frtom the Sanskrit? Sanskrit is a language... Pubuman 03:50, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Chinese and Egyptian origin[edit]

Considering that Xiàngqí (or Chinese chess or elephant chess) evolved from an ancient Chinese game called Liubo, invented around 1500 BC, Chaturanga would obviously be a variant of these older Chinese games. (See .) Each Xiàngqí player, as in Liubo, begins the game with one (1) General and five (5) Pawns, with victory defined by capture of the General. In the game of Liubo, however, the moves of the playing pieces are decided by a roll of dice. Accordingly, Xiàngqí predates the Indian game Chatrang and modern-day "Western" chess.

I haven't seen this claim made in any mainstream source. I'll do some background checking on it later, but given other inaccurate material added by the same user I'm not inclined towards leaving it in the article. Some of the linked article seems to contradict the evidence presented in a paper about Liuno in the Journal of Board Game Studies (1999).
Sorry buddy, that is not a RS. Just looks like they plucked things out of the air almost!Pubuman 03:52, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

The main claim for the Egyptian origin is an ancient image found in the tomb of Egyptian Queen Nefertari (1295-1255 BC), which shows the queen reaching over what appears to be a game of 10 playing pieces on a 4 x 7 board design. The board depicted in this image includes, like Xiàngqí, a large block of blank space in its middle, between the two players (for a river or field or ...?). (See ) If this is actually a "game," it would perhaps constitute an earlier version of Xiàngqí and would perhaps have also evolved from the ancient Chinese game Liubo (ca 1500 BC). And it would be our earliest indication of figurine-like figures being used for playing pieces rather than the flat discs that were used in the ancient Chinese games.

This is a theory that hasn't been seriously suggested since the early 20th century. The game displayed in the image is far more like to be the Royal Game of Ur. --Imran 19:49, 31 Mar 2004 (UTC)

The Royal Game of Ur ( ) was a race game played with knucklebones or dice on a board design that was very much different from the one depicted in the image of Queen Nefertari mentioned above. Also, if this image is in fact an ancient semblance of the Royal Game of Ur, why would the artist in his painstakingly detailed image entirely overlook including images of the knucklebones/dice? Furthermore, some have suggested that the game is actually the ancient Egyptian race game, Senet ( ), a theory that can likewise be disputed along similar lines.

Note too that figurines which possibly were once ancient chess pieces have been excavated, dating to time periods centuries before Chatrang's supposed date of inception in the 6th century! For starters, the piece discovered in Albania - - is most likely an upside down rook with its bottom reshaped (explaining why it was found alone, apparently having been discarded! Perhaps an error was made in the initial fashioning process and the piece was subsequently reshaped in some vain attempt to search for an alternate use). Secondly, one cannot read Gerhard Josten's work - - without being struck by the pieces on pages 12 and 14, dating to the first/second century A.D.!

One must then conclude that chess-like games were likely played centuries before Chatrang was allegedly invented in India.

My revert of Roylee's addition[edit]

I have blanket-reverted Roylee's edits to this article. My reason is that he obviously tries to promote his extremely dubious, VfD'ed article Latin Alphabet: Circumstantial Evidence for Egyptian Origin by linking it here. I can't judge the merits of the rest of his additions, and decided to err on the side of caution (in knowing violation of the "When in doubt, don't delete" principle), but everybody please feel free to reinstate his contributions if you feel that is appropriate. Kosebamse 09:04, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I'm tempted to rip out huge chunks from this article and NPOV them and stick them on a general board game history article as at the moment a large part of this page is just random speculation with no serious evidence to back it up. --22:44, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

as above removing the following,

The bulk of the controversy surrounding the origins of chess mainly springs from two competing historical theories. First, one historical theory assumes our historical record to be essentially accurate. Second, a competing theory suggests that ancient Roman conquerors (with help perhaps from ancient India or Kushans) plundered specialized knowledge from ancient Egypt and revised the historical record so as to claim ancient Egyptian advances as their own. For purposes of this article, this will be termed the "revisionist" theory. Proponents of this theory assert it to be the only logical conclusion remaining to explain some extraordinary ancient Egyptian feats, such as the Great Pyramid of Giza and all those historical/archaeological puzzles posed at Charlemagne's Elephant.

Sphinx with Great Pyramid of Giza in background.

Revisionists claim that this lack of physical evidence exposes Chaturanga as an apparent hoax, a game existing in idea only (as nothing more than a mere story) rather than physical fact. Compounding their claim are actual Chaturanga-looking pieces (elephant pieces) which have been discovered and date prior to the 6th century A.D. (See The first Persian, Arab and Russian chessmen.) Chess-like games, so it seems, may have been played centuries before having allegedly been invented in India.

The main claim for an Egyptian origin of chess is the ancient image found in the tomb of Egyptian Queen Nefertari (1295-1255 BC) which shows her reaching over what appears to be a game of 10 playing pieces on a 4 x 7 board design. The board suggested in this image includes, like Xiàngqí, a large block of blank space in its middle between the two players. See About The History Of Chess.

If Nefertari's image represents an original version of Xiàngqí, it would be our earliest indication of figurine-type playing pieces on a battle game played without dice. Nevertheless, both the ancient Board Game of Knossos (the design of which includes a ditch) and ancient Chinese Liubo (or Liu po) predate Nefertari's "game" by a couple centuries, as both are circa 1500 BC (ref. Lin, Chinese Chess, 1991). However, the Knossos board likely represents a race-like game rather than a battle game, and Liubo, though a battle game, was played with dice.

Interestingly, we have also evidence of two additional ancient Egyptian battle-like board games played without dice. Particularly, Plato attributes Egypt as the origin of petteia, played in the 5th to 4th centuries BC, but nothing more is known about the game. (See reference page 261 at Greek Board Games.) Another such ancient Egyptian game was seega (idem, pp. 270-271). Yet another described by Plato is the ancient Greek battle game poleis, a "fight between two cities" (idem, pp. 263-265). Note too that literary sources indicate Xiàngqí may have been played as early as the 4th century BC. See chess in early literature.

Other battle-like board games played in antiquity without dice include the ancient Chinese game of Go, still popular even today. Although the origins of Go may extend as far back as 2300 BC (ref. Encyclopædia Britannica) substantial supporting evidence dates no earlier than the 3rd century BC. Finally, Varro (Marcus Terentius) is credited with having documented our earliest record (1st century BC) of the Roman battle game, latrunculi. His original Latin prose is posted at Varro: Lingua Latina X, II, par. 20.

Seemingly, many ancient chess sets were destroyed over the centuries, perhaps in an attempt to "refine" the historical record. Luckily however modern excavations conducted since the 1970s have turned up chess pieces dating as far back as the 2nd century CE. See timeline of chess.

I'm happy for some of the above content to be restore to the article but it needs to be sourced as the mainstream works on this topic (Murray, Eales, et al) all favour the india hypothesis. If you wanted to say xxx proposed theory yyy in journal zzz than that's fine. But currently I think giving the china/roman hypothesis equal weight with the india hypothesis fails to accurately represent mainstream historical/scientific though on the topic. --Imran

I agree with you here. I had to remove Roylee's attempt to add similiar stuff to the Chess page. Samboy 00:06, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Nefertari playing chess[edit]

Neferatri plays Senet here, not a chess-like game. Painting in tomb of Egyptian Queen Nefertari (1295-1255 BC)

"The main claim for an Egyptian origin of chess is the ancient image found in the tomb of Egyptian Queen Nefertari (1295-1255 BC) which shows her reaching over what appears to be a game of 10 playing pieces on a 4 x 7 board design. The board suggested in this image includes, like Xiàngqí, a large block of blank space in its middle between the two players. If Nefertari's image truly represents an older version of Xiàngqí, it would be our earliest indication of figurine-type playing pieces on a battle game played without dice."

"4x7 board design"? "a large block of blank space"? What the Hell!? I think this guy is not talking about the board (red rectangle) but Nefertari's friggin' chair! This is a bogus attempt to support the Xiangqi origin theory. QV66 has this same picture, describing it as a board of Senet. See [1]. We have to be careful when we interpret pictures of other cultures because of our cultural biases; what we see as "chess pieces" could be perfume bottles. This could've been (hipothetically) Nefertari putting some makeup on, for all we know. The Senet theory seems much more plausible. I think this should be changed to reflect that the common interpretation of this picture is that of a Senet board, links to QV66 and Senet could be added. What do you think?-- 00:50, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

I removed this fragment from main article, obviously Nefertari plays Senet on this painting, not a chess-like game. You can see that board has 10 rows all of them are occupied with pieces on the first line. It is quite unlikely for a chess-like game that such configuration happens. From the other side, Senet was played on the board 3x10 and the game started with players placing their pieces on the first line depending on dice. Tall pieces belong to one player, small to other one. So it looks like a start of Senet game. Andreas Kaufmann 18:47, 14 September 2005 (UTC)


Can someone please supply a precise citation from the Mahabharata? I am suspicious; a purported mention in the Code of Manu (maybe second century BC) turned out actually to be in a commentary, many centuries later. J S Ayer 03:38, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

I tried to search for "chess Mahabharata", using Google toolbar on Sacred-Texts: Hinduism. The only hit I found was this fragment in Book 4, Section 1: "...Presenting myself as a Brahmana, Kanka by name, skilled in dice and fond of play, I shall become a courtier of that high-souled king. And moving upon chess-boards beautiful pawns made of ivory, of blue and yellow and red and white hue, by throws of black and red dice. I shall entertain the king with his courtiers and friends." Certainly the mentioned game could be Chaturaji (4-handed Chaturanga), however more likely, that this game is a race game, like Pachisi. Andreas Kaufmann 08:33, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

Thank you. I have deleted the reference to chess in the Maha-Bharata, as the text seems actually to refer to pachisi, and the statement that chess-pieces were found in Mohenjo-Daro, five thousand years old, as I have read all I can on early chess pieces and have never heard of any such thing; I have never heard of chess pieces as much as two thousand years old. J S Ayer 03:35, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

A probable sock-puppet has reinserted the reference to chaturanga that is probably really pachisi, and I have again cut it out. J S Ayer 02:45, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

And again, three months later to the day. The rendering "chess-boards" is highly questionable, as the rest of the passage describes men of four colors, without apparent differentiation by type, moving around the board as directed by dice: probably pachisi. The linked series of chess-based cartoons, while entertaining, adds nothing to our knowledge of the origin of the game. J S Ayer 02:12, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

Shah Ardashir[edit]

I removed the following from the article: "...One ancient Persian text refers to Shah Ardashir, who ruled from 224241 CE, as a master of the game...." Chess is believed to be invented much later, this statement would need a reference to respectable source to stay in the article. Andreas Kaufmann 10:49, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

I added information on History of Indian Chess and gave a Timeline of Chess[edit]

I added the little section on the Brahmin Sissa and his invention of chess and the picture of Siisa. This is all under India's origin of chess and hope it contributes well to the article. The information comes from the Chessbase website under the title Chess is a War Game. The link is in the external links section. Darkness1089

I still cannot find any reference to the Maha-Bharata that clearly describes chess rather than another board game, probably pachisi. The evidence generally supports an Indian origin of chess; please do not damage the article by unsupported claims of a great antiquity. J S Ayer 22:59, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

I have re-added the statement that says Chaturanga was played during the Mahabharata. I've sourced two sites: and

You can also look at


Haryana-online simply copies (without attribution) a previous state of this article. That reference is therefore circular and invalid. Chesssetstore does not provide a traceable reference. Neither, actually, does crystalinks. Do you have any other text than that quoted above by Andreas Kaufmann? If so, please present it. J S Ayer 22:27, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

I highly doubt there are scholarly papers explaining the origin of chessand their references in various texts like the Mahabharata. Although, I found another one that seems better than the other couple of links I posted. Here It is (link). There is another one (link). I'll try to find something written by an acclaimed researcher if I can on the net. If not, I have a Hindi version of the Mahabharata at home that I can ook for specific reference in terms for line numbers and such. Darkness1089

I have found a translation of the Mahabharata on line. The description of the gambling by which Yudhishthira loses his wealth, his brothers, himself, and Draupati is in Canto Two, Sections 50-64, on line at and following. It is described simply as a dice-game. Chaturanga is never named or described. Anyone can look. J S Ayer 03:30, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

A bit removed from Catalan Opening[edit]

I just removed this bit of text from the Catalan Opening article, since it has nothing to do with that subject (bold as in the original):

In 1008, a Catalonian nobleman, Count Ermengol of Urgell, specified in his will that his chess pieces were to be left to the Convent of St. Giles near Nîmes, present France and then in the area of influence of the Catalan Counties. This is the earliest recorded mention of chess in European history.

I can't vouch for its veracity, but since I thought somebody else could, and might have a better idea of where it might go, and since history of chess redirects to this article, I've copied it here. --Camembert 01:31, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Already on line at Chess in early literature. J S Ayer 23:27, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Chess reaching Russia[edit]

The text says that chess reached Russia via Mongolia. I object to this. The Mongols have no sound "f" and converted "ferz" to "bers", yet Russians know "ferz" as a name for the chess-queen. Also the Mongols have no elephants among their chessmen, using a camel, as I recall, yet the Russians often call the bishop "slon" which is their word for an elephant. For both reasons I think chess reached Russia from Persia. Before the twentieth century Russian chessmen were usually of ivory, left white on both sides but with one side carved to represent Russians and the other side Persians. J S Ayer 00:42, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Sissa's Wish[edit]

Someone has inserted a statement (under "India") that Sissa was however killed, because the king would be ruined if Sissa's wish were granted. This is a reference to part of the story that is not in the article: The king asked Sissa what reward he would like for his splendid achievement in creating this game, and Sissa asked for a chessboard with one grain of wheat on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, and so on by powers of two. The king, impressed by the sage's moderation, ordered it done, only to discover before long that there wasn't enough wheat in all the world to do what was asked. Sissa, laughing, said that he had known this all along, and was amply rewarded by the chance to teach the power of even a low-level geometric progression. So king and sage were reconciled; there is no mention of the one having the other put to death. I will therefore remove the sentence. J S Ayer 15:37, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Modern rules[edit]

Since what point in time have the current rules been in effect? Since the introduction of en passant capture? Dynzmoar 12:10, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

It depends on how stringently you define "current rules". The rules were changed even in the second half of the twentieth century, I think, with a definition of castling in a game at rook odds and a change in the rule about what to do when it is discovered that an error was committed earlier in the game. J S Ayer 03:49, 15 September 2006 (UTC)


This article suggests (and I believe correctly) that the word "chess" is derived from Persian shah, but the Chess article suggests it is derived from chaturanga. Which is correct, what does chaturanga mean?--Josh Rocchio 17:02, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

H.J.R. Murray argues exhaustively in his History of Chess that it is derived from "shah" and the warning from one player that the other's king is under attack. "Chaturanga" means "four arms" and refers to the four branches of an ancient Indian army. J S Ayer 01:47, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

That's what I thought, scacchi, shaxmaty, etc... Certainly wouldn't be from chat, but shah.--Josh Rocchio 01:00, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Misspelling at the "Indian" Section?[edit]

In the "Other Theories/India" section, it shows the ruler of India spelled "rajah" (when referring to the current king of India) and then "raja" the second time it is used (referring to the "king" piece in chess). Unless this cites sources that says to spell both references in this manner, this is inconsistent.

Plus, in the book Chess: A Celebration of 2000 Years (by Roswin Finkenzeller, Wilhem Ziehr and Emil M. Bührer)it says that the rajah's name is spelled "Balhit", not "Balhait".

Oh well, I'm just straining out gnats--I'll go back to writing my research paper. --JDitto 07:10, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Your first point is valid; your second I am not qualified to judge. J S Ayer 02:36, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for adjusting the rajah spelling. As for my second point, I ask: Where is the source that mentions the rajah's name as 'Balhit'?
On the other hand, I'm going to swap the headings Other theories and Further Development of chess, if you don't mind. It seems to be more chronological that way. --JDitto 05:40, 29 October 2006 (UTC)
Good idea. I hope you have not mistaken me for a major contributor to this page; I am merely a persistent stickler. J S Ayer 03:36, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

There is very little question that chess was invented in China[edit]

The idea that "Chess was invented in India" hypothesis is some kind of scientific consensus is absurd, and it should be immediately fixed. The real question is - should we even treat it seriously in Wikipedia, in face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary ?

Two oldest somewhat documented chess-like games are Chinese Xiangqi and Indian Chaturanga. Xiangqi is commonly accepted to come from 4th-2nd century BC, Chaturanga from 6th or 7th century AD.

So claiming Indian origin means one of:

  • Chaturanga and Xiangqi do not have common origins
  • Chaturanga comes from Xiangqi (or from common source with Xiangqi), but Xiangqi is somehow "not chess"
  • Chaturanga is over 1000 years older that the evidence suggests
  • Xiangqi is over 1000 years younger than the evidence suggests

Let's first deal with the claim that Xiangqi was developed independently from Chaturanga.

They are both played by two players on small rectangular board (8x8 or 10x9), each taking turns in which they could move one piece, and the move could cause capture of some enemy pieces. The objective is capturing/checkmating the enemy king/general. Most pieces can move everywhere, and capture the way they move. The pieces start at opposing sides of the board, stronger ones in the last row, weaker ones in front of the strong ones. From the center (capturing rules and river, palace, etc. skipped) they are:

  • in Xiangqi:
    • one general, moving horizontally and vertically by 1
    • two advisors, moving diagonally by 1
    • two elephants, moving diagonally by 2
    • two horses, moving like horses
    • two chariots, moving horizontally and vertically by any distance
    • two cannons, moving horizontally and vertically by any distance
    • five soldiers, moving forward by 1
  • in Chaturanga (according to reconstructed rules from Wikipedia, details vary):
    • one king, moving in any direction by 1
    • one counsellor, moving diagonally by 1
    • two chariots, moing horizontally and vertically by any distance
    • two elephants, moving diagonally by 2
    • two horses, moving like horses
    • eight soldiers, moving forward by 1

Can anybody seriously claim these games are so similar by chance ? They are far more similar to each other than Xiangqi to Shogi or Chaturanga to International chess, and nobody claims Shogi or International chess were invented intependently.

Both 1000 years misdating hypotheses can be ignored unless further evidence is given.

So by now we know that all kinds of chess come from something modern Xiangqi-like, and there is no evidence suggesting Xiangqi wasn't invented in China.

The only possible objection left is that Xiangqi is somehow "not chess". I really fail to see how can anybody seriously call Chaturanga "chess" and Xiangqi "not chess", given how similar they are.

One more thing - Murray doesn't seem like a serious source on origins of chess. It seems he didn't even know about Xiangqi !

For more discussion see [2]

Wikipedia should plainly state that, as far as all evidence goes, chess was invented in China. Taw 17:02, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

This article by Sam Sloan, which you refer to, is well-written and interesting to read. However, it could be historically inaccurate. Please see on Talk:Early Arabic chess literature some comments of Cazaux, French chess historian, on Murray's book and origin of chess. In his book, Murray actually devotes a chapter to Xiangqi and its variants. He also seriously considered possibility that the game called "Xiangqi" as played 2nd century could be a chess-like game, but rejects this hypothesis due to missing historical evidence. Andreas Kaufmann 22:19, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Apparently "xiangqi" was the name of two or three games, so, unless the game is not only named but described, the reference is inadequate. In European game history we have cases where, for example, an account-book lists an expenditure for "two foxes and twenty-six geese for merels" although merels is a game with the same number of pieces and of the same type on each side; fox and geese is a different game, with asymmetrical forces and goals. J S Ayer 03:35, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

You simply cannot claim chess was invented in China

  • First of all, Chinese Chess is played on a board with 9x8 squares or 10x9 edges. This does in no way explain why the board magically change to 8x8 square as chess was passed on from China to India and beyond. Did the Chinese conspire to give the rest of the world an inferior type of game and kept the "perfect" game for themselves?
  • The Chinese virtually never used War Elephants in their armies. It is highly unclear as to how such an uncommon piece got into the war game. On the other hand, the Indian armies used all of divisions (King, General/Minister, Cavalry, Chariot/Boat, Elephant, Infantry) represented by the chess pieces.
  • The movements of the pieces is significantly different. Especially because of the fact that The Chinese chess has the King inside a castle and two guards that cannot move out. There is no piece equivalent to the cannon. There is also no pawn conversion or progression.
  • You simply cannot rule out the differences n pieces. 5 pawns in Chinese chess and 8 in Indian Chess. Cannon in Chinese chess. Queen/General/Minister in Indian chess.
  • Although there is no evidence to suggest that chess was played before the 600s AD era, there is definitive evidence to explicitly state that India had games before that can be considered to be forerunners to chess.
  • There are significant mentions to the games of Chaturanga and Chaturaji in ancient Indian literature. Refer to Mahabharata Book 4 (1st Section) here

Please refer to this article for a full and clear explanation of my arguments. Origins of Chess

Wikipedia should acknowledge the contributions made by Chinese chess, but it cannot in any way deny the facts that chess was invented in India. It is possible that the Chinese and Indian chess have a common history and connection, but no one can in any way claim that chess was invented outside of India.

Darkness1089 22:37, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

The Pesian Youths Picture HAS to be removed[edit]

Although the article says that the most commonly agreed upon place for the origin of chess is India, this picture of Persian Youths is VERY VERY misleading. It is only fair that that picture is moved down to somewhere else and the picture is replaced with a picture of ancient Indian chess players or chess games.

Wikipedia is contradicting itself by saying chess was invented in India and displaying a picture claiming Persian invention of the game of chess. There is a very famous painting showing Radha and Krishna playing chess. This will truly convey the message that the game of chess is deeply rooted to Indian culture and will fairly acknowledge the contributions the people of India have made to the modern world.

Darkness1089 22:38, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

I agree with the picture suggestion but not becuase I am a pro Indian supported like yourself. Anyway if the word "check mate" comes from Persian, what does "check" mean anyway? In Persian would it not be nonsensical? 11:31, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Arbitary deletion of information is POV[edit]


The neutral point of view is a means of dealing with conflicting views. The policy requires that, where there are or have been conflicting views, these should be presented fairly. None of the views should be given undue weight or asserted as being the truth, and all significant published points of view are to be presented, not just the most popular one. It should also not be asserted that the most popular view or some sort of intermediate view among the different views is the correct one. Readers are left to form their own opinions.

Please leave all properly referenced information on this article. Kelvinc 22:17, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Neurolinguist Programming[edit]

Can there be a little discussion here? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 13:56, 3 April 2007 (UTC).

Date of Buddhist Scripture[edit]

According to our articles on Buddhist scriptures, almost all Buddhist texts are attributed to the Buddha, although many are demonstrably from a much later date. I am therefore reducing the strongest statements based on Buddhist texts, until someone can demonstrate that they actually date from the Buddha's own time, rather than, say, a dozen centuries later. J S Ayer 03:29, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Removal of an External Link[edit]

In tidying up someone's attempt to change the relative prominences of certain headings, I have been forced to remove an external link because it is identified as spam. I do not agree with this classification, but have not yet gotten involved with meta-wiki, which I must do to ask for the reinstatement of the link to the website emphasizing Iran's part in the origin of chess. J S Ayer 02:24, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

India, Persia or China[edit]

I am rather consterned by what I read here. Too many comments, either from chess-was-invented-in-India or from chess-was-invented-in-China are ill-informed, or simply wrong. There are so many speculations here. Sentences like "no one can in any way claim that chess was invented outside of India." does not allow to progress at all.

This is too bad. I agree with the 1st comment, this Wiki page should remain as neutral as possible.

The truth is that nobody can argue that India (what does that mean ? including Pakistan?), or Persia (what does that mean? including today Central Asia and Afghanistan?) or China (what does that mean? including Xinjiang?) is the place of origin for chess.

Yes Chinese had elephants in their army. Saying the opposite is just wrong. But, so what? It proves nothing, the piece in chinese chess is meant as a minister (xiang) and it is an elephant only by homonymy and for 1 side only. One can imagine a proto-chess with a minister, becoming an elephant after a westward diffusion along the Silk road. Or the contrary...

Some very serious and recognized historians have shown a possible connection with the earliest Chess history and the city of Kannauj on the upper Ganges valley. However, other serious historians are advancing counter arguments (for instance of the well know Bana's sentence, which might be concerning chess ... or something else).

The first description of chess rules in India in an Indian text is the Manasollasa. It dates from the beginning of the 12th century. At this date, Chess had been described widely in the Muslim world and, even, in Europe!

The oldest, undisputed texts are Persian. They are from about 600 AC. There is no possibility to say if older Chinese texts are talking about chess or another game. What is attributed to older Indian text is simply modern interpretation, not to say poor translation, by modern authors. In particular it is funny that everyone cites Murray HoC, but how many have read it? If one reads p36 (OK it is written in very small character...) he will see that he had dealt with the Book 4 of Mahabharata : "there is no term that necessitates chess" there. Same for the Brahmajala sutta: the original sanskrit text talks about Ashtapada and Dasapada. So boards for game are meant, but nowhere it's said the games are chess or anything alike. Most probably they were betting games, lotteries, with dice.

The oldest archaeological findings are coming from Uzbekistan, Afghanistan which were lands of eastern Persian langages then. It doesn't mean more than ... they are the earliest found so far. There are much less findings in India because the climate is less conserving, because the lands are much more crowded, etc. In China it is complicated because earliest chess (xiangqi) pieces could have been confused with old coins.

The earliest Persian texts say that the game was invented in ... Hind. Hind was the region of Indus, today Sind in Pakistan. Was this tale true? It is impossible to say.

About the discussion on the chess or xiangqi structure. I have studied this, and I should say that the Chinese rules and architecture of the game seems, to me, more primitive than the indian/persian one. I can more easily imagine a transition from China to Persia/India than the contrary.

So, what can be said is Chess was invented somewhere in modern Afghanistan-Pakistan-Northern India-Uzbekistan-Tadjikistan-China and that this Wikipage would better remains neutral for the present time.

Cazaux 12:28, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Picture description kind of OR[edit]


Although there are many who claim to have invented chess, the most commonly held view is that it was invented and played in India. Krishna and Radha are shown playing chaturanga on an 8x8 Ashtāpada.

is kind of OR. A reference should be found for these statements and the source of the image should also be found. --Matt57 (talkcontribs) 05:56, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

I agree. Any thoughts on a solution? Padishah5000 07:05, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

Most recent edit and revert[edit]

I have reverted the most recent edit, as someone has someone has changed the spelling of a number of Chinese names and words IN LINKS, destroying them as links. Please, if you must monkey with the spelling, keep the meaning clear, and learn to make a pipe link. Generally it's best to use the established spelling, even if something purer could be devised. J S Ayer 02:44, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Claims of great antiquity in India are still unsupported.[edit]

The claims that chess is more than two thousand years old in India are still unsupported by the literature. The passage in the Mahabharata has been artificially sharpened; the word translated "chessboard" is actually not specific to chess, and the word translated "pawns" means "game-pieces". Beyond that we have a game with pieces of four colors but apparently only one type, moving around the board at the dictates of the dice: probably pachisi. Buddhist literature is almost all attributed to the Buddha, even though it may have been composed a thousand years later.

Aside from that, the article was due for a rewriting. J S Ayer 00:47, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

We must only use the most reliable secondary sources for writing this article. The origin of chess is really not a subject involving as many theories as have been represented here, some of these theories represent nationalist literature (nationals of one country advocating their homeland as the land of chess) and others are simply WP:Fringe. (Origins_of_chess#Ireland written lovingly using , encyclopedias are not written using websites like these).
What attracted my attention was that some "claims" mentioned here do not find place in reliable sources and mainstream scholarly works at all, and hence are not even legitimate claims. I doubt that even many private websites support the Irish origins of Chess (as is clear here). I have tried to undo the violations of WP:UNDUE#Undue_weight, and give mainstream opinion due weight in this article.
Also, I have chosen a suitable source (Touraj Daryaee's peer reviewed journal Mind, body, and the cosmos: chess and backgammon in ancient Persia published in the Journal Iranian Studies, Volume 35, Issue 4 Autumn 2002 , pages 281 - 312) to support the statement. This statement can be sourced by many neutral scholars and in my opinion the claim should best come from the well respected Persian Iranologist and historian, who serves as associate professor of Ancient History at California State University and is the the editor of the Name-ye Iran-e Bastan, The International Journal of Ancient Iranian Studies.
Christopher Crighton 18:08, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

I wonder what the peer reviews said--but the difficulty remains that the text (available on line; see archived talk) does not discuss chess. It speaks of pieces of four colors, but apparently all of one type, moving around the board at the dictates of two dice. This sounds much more like pachisi. J S Ayer 03:42, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

If you would have taken the pain to actually read the article before you blanked the citation you would have read a quotation here. Kindly do not blank peer reviwed journals which may not agree with your personal, unpublished opinion.
Christopher Crighton 06:31, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

That it is not chess was published before my father was born, in Murray's History of Chess, page 36. That it was actually pachisi was probably published before I was born, but that reference must await my next trip to the library.

The text of that passage of the Mahabharata is in the archive, with canto and verse number; would you like to read it and explain how it describes chess? Do you agree that primary sources take precedence over secondary sources? J S Ayer 03:25, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

I have nothing but respect for A History of Chess as written by Harold James Ruthven Murray but the fact that it was written before 1913 renders it unsuitable for use on this encyclopedia. This is not to undermine either the influence, the scholary value or the credibility of Murray's work but to simply point out we absolutely must work towards citing recent scholarly material.
Also, the official Wikipedia policy states that "Wikipedia articles should rely on reliable, published secondary sources.", which means that editing on basis of personal interpretation of a primary source, for example the Mahabharata, is not done.
Also, according to WP:V:
Making the use of this source indispensible.
Best Wishes,
Christopher Crighton 06:19, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
  • The claim that the age of A History of Chess makes it unsuitable for use in WikiPedia is quite simply wrong. Murray's work is still the definitive reference on the origins of chess, and to my knowledge little of his work has been refuted. If a recent reference makes a claim contrary to Murray, then it should explicitly explain why it thinks Murray was mistaken. As I don't have the reference in question, could you tell use why Touraj Daryaee disagrees with Murray's assessment of the Mahabharata? A lot of nonsense has been written about the origins of chess, even by scholars who should know better. Quale 14:46, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
A History of Chess is dated. Having said that I would really like to have a quotation on where exactly does "Murray disagrees with Touraj Daryaee's assessment of the Mahabharata."
Remember, no quotation of what Murray has claimed have been provided. Once that can be done we can know what he has said and how strongly (or vaugely) the man said it. Until that citation is provided by JS Ayer, The whole "dispute" thing is unsourced and we only have the word of one Wikipedia editor for even the existance of a "dispute," and no reliable sources.
This situation might appear like there are two sides of the argument but in reality only one side has bought any reliable sources. The other side of the "dispute" has yet not produced any source to support the claims.
At this point it would be pertinent to request for the exact quote from JS Ayer and ask the editor to skim through WP:RS#Exceptional_claims_require_exceptional_sources. Kindly make sure that your source clearly reflects what you are trying to imply. I would also like to thank him for correcting my typos (which I make in plenty), vigilant help like that is appreciated.
Regards, Christopher Crighton 04:31, 2 August 2007 (UTC)
  1. A History of Chess is old, but that isn't the same as dated. To demonstrate that it is dated requires an effective critique. There may be such an analysis, but I'm not aware of it.
  2. Murray 1913, p. 36: "In the Mahabharata, Nala and Yudhishthira are represented as gambling away their very kingdoms in dice play.31" And the footnote on the same page: 31"Careless translators have represented the game as chess. Another passage in the Mahabharata is thus Englished by Protap Chandra Roy (Mahabharata, Calcutta 1886, iii. 2 = Virata Parva. 1): 'Hear what I shall do on appearing before King Virata. Presenting myself as a Brahmana, Kanka by name, skilled in dice and fond of play, I shall become a courier of that high-souled king. And moving on boards beautiful pawns made of ivory, of blue and yellow and red and white hue, by means of black and red dice, I shall entertain the king.' The same passage was translated by E.W. Hopkins (Journal Amer. Or. Soc.,, Newhaven, 1889, xiii. 123): 'I shall become a dice-mad, play-loving courtier, and with the bejewelled holders fling out the charming beryl, gold, and ivory dice, dotted black and red.' On reference to the original Sanskrit, it is perfectly clear that there is no term that necessites chess. The word used for board is the perfectly general term phalaka." (On pages 32-3 Murray states that phalaka means game-board, with no indication of its size, shape, or arrangement. The word for an 8x8 board is ashtapada.) As you see, Murray doesn't consider this a reference to chess. Since chess isn't played with dice, I would say on the face of it that he's right.
  3. Murray is a reliable source, I'm not sure about Daryaee. Now that you have the quote from Murray, it would be very helpful to see the rebuttal. If all Daryaee said was the single bald assertion "The game is also mentioned in the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata.", then I would say that that statement requires confirmation. Otherwise using it in the article places undue weight on a single sentence by someone who, to my knowledge, is not known as a chess historian. Do any other scholars agree with his assessment?
  4. The burden of extraordinary claims actually lies in the opposite direction than you suggest. You are making the extraordinary claim, so you need especially strong evidence. The journal article you mention may provide that evidence, but we need more than two sentences from it to know for sure. Quale 05:59, 2 August 2007 (UTC)
Well there you go, to finally see someone bring a quote and analyze it this way not only assures me that there are good people (with books) looking after these articles but also goes on to put my mind at ease that someone has disputed the claim that Mahabharata mentions chess and has done so explicitely and without either any nationalist affiliations or in a vauge sense.
I have additional sources but they all generally have two lines or so dealing with the subject (The mentions occurs in the Mahabharata.....) . I'll do the honors and will remove the sentence which though supported by a journal is rebutted explicitely and in detail by Murray.
My best wishes for the day, Christopher Crighton 11:38, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

Thank you. I see that you have inserted another claim for the same great antiquity in the matter of figurines from the Indus valley civilization. Since chessmen have been made in many styles in India (as elsewhere), the similarity of artistic style does not seem to me a compelling evidence that they were used in the same game. I may not be able to gain access to the Memoirs of the Archeological Survey of India; could you please share a dozen lines, or some details, to support this claim?

I agree that the article was due for an overhaul; good work. J S Ayer 15:55, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

Thank you, the quote from the 1985 Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India (Page 503) is as follows:
Best wishes, Christopher Crighton 00:59, 3 August 2007 (UTC)
That claim needs corroberation. Has this paper been reviewed or cited by anyone? Claims of great antiquity for chess figurines are a dime a dozen, and generally are based on utter speculation that is rejected by most chess historians. I think there's a claim of 2000 year-old chess pieces in Uzbekistan as well, but no non-Uzbeks give it much credence. Notice the irony/oddity in your admission that Murray in 1913 explicitly rebutted writings done 70+ years later, and over 20 years after he died. How is this possible? Are any of these other "chess scholars" even aware of the work done before them? Quale 07:30, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Not to take sides or anything but the source is reliable:-

John Marshall introduced Annual Reports published in two parts from 1902 onwards. He also started the publication of a new series ‘Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India’, of which the first number appeared in 1919 and the latest (ninety-eight) in 2003. There are three forthcoming Vols. viz., Nagarjunakonda-II, Adam and Udaygiri excavation reports which are in the various stages of printing. -

Mountain Priest 14:02, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
  • That doesn't mean the source is correct. As I said, claims of ancient chess pieces are a dime a dozen and are generally discounted by chess historians for reasons that are obvious to everyone but the overexcited archeologists who typically know little or nothing about the history of chess. A couple of pieces of clay that vaguely resemble chess pieces is not evidence for ancient existance of chess. In fact I think it's highly unlikely. If chess is 2000+ years old, why is there no "evidence" other than a few pieces of clay until around 600 AD? The archeologists have no complete sets of chess men, just a couple of "suggestive" shapes, no proof that the pieces of clay were even used as game pieces at all, no indication of the number of players involved even if they were game pieces, no chess boards, no idea of the rules of the game if indeed a game is involved, and no evidence connecting it with the early forms of chess known from around 600 AD. This entire claim is based on two throw-away sentences in a work not primarily concerned with the origins of chess, and no evidence has been provided that this claim has been peer reviewed. That's the very definition of undue weight on a distinctly minority view. Quale 15:21, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
Again, not to take sides or anything but an annual report of a government archaeological survey means that it is correct. I'm sure it has to be more complicated than a few pieces of clay and overexcited archaeologists to have made it to a government report. Other claims of chess pieces should be included as well if they are mentioned in reliable sources. Mountain Priest 06:45, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
The article can still use additional material at 16,454 bytes so anymore reliable sources on chessmen from elsewhere may be used in a complete section. In any case, I found a quote on the talk page and can use it to demonstrate that the ancient chessmen exist according to the Archaeological Survey of India and their opinion has been quoted. This should point out the source of the opinion and implement the lines faithfully from the source while pointing out that the opinion belongs to the Archaeological Survey of India.Mountain Priest 06:59, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
Please read the very first three sentences of what Encyclopaedia Brittanica has to say about this subject: Notice that it says "no credible evidence that chess existed in a form approaching the modern game before the 6th century AD" and "Game pieces found in Russia, China, India, Central Asia, Pakistan, and elsewhere that have been determined to be older than that are now regarded as coming from earlier, distantly related board games". Against the majority opinion, expressed also by EB, we have two sentences in an obscure Indian government report, not subject to peer or critical review, not primarily or even secondarily about chess, by authors with no recognized or demonstrated expertise in the history of chess, with obvious incentive for reasons of national pride to suggest an ancient origin of chess in their country, making extremely speculative interpretations of evidence that is beyond slim. You're sure there's more, but if there is more than those two sentences in a government report, then why isn't it in the report?? I think the claims of ancient pieces deserve to be mentioned (possibly in a separate subsection), but due weight requires that we describe the highly speculative nature of those interpretations and the skepticism that mainstream chess historians have toward those claims. At some point I will probably make some edits of that nature to the page (there are at least two or three other well-publicized claims of ancient chess pieces similar to the Indian one, all of them discounted by mainstream chess historians), but I have been busy with other matters recently. Quale 07:57, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
The government report is not obscure but an annual report filed by the department to sum the proceedings. This is an archaeological report written by experts which deals with excavated pieces which the archaeologists feel are connected to chess. The report has been quoted to make it clear that the written word is the opinion expressed in that annual report and that's it. A complete section dealing with the pieces from Russia, China, India, Central Asia, Pakistan, and elsewhere will both do justice to the content and settle this once and for all. I'll try to get my hands on the report (I find it unlikely that I will be able to do so quickly or at all) and try to find out whether the claim of "two sentence only" is true or do they have a background on this. My two cents, they have more than "two lines" on this.
Try and Chill, OK?
Mountain Priest 08:48, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
Did you read the very brief Encyclopaedia Brittanica article? (It's free, and no registration is required.) The Indian government report dates from 1985. If they have strong evidence of an ancient Indic origin for chess, one might reasonably expect that someone (maybe even the original authors themselves) have followed up on that in the last 20 years. Is there any corroberation? There's been plenty of time. Presumably the EB article was written after the Indian government report, so the EB author was probably aware of these old claims (and specifically mentions India), and yet the judgement is clear: "now regarded as coming from earlier, distantly related board games". Those old claims have been considered by chess historians and have been judged wanting—the modern view is that they are not evidence of ancient chess. Actually carefully looking at the two sentences from the government report, it makes a claim for the predecessors of chaturanga, not modern chess. Although chaturanga is thought itself to be the predecessor of modern chess (and the evidence is strong), almost nothing is known about the predecessors of chaturanga and there's certainly no evidence that any chaturanga precursors had any notable similarities to modern chess. The Indian government report reference probably belongs in chaturanga rather than here. You seem to believe that government of India archeologists couldn't possibly be mistaken, but the author of the EB article on the origins of chess doesn't seem to agree. Earlier in this discussion we saw extremely sloppy scholarship regarding the Mahabharata from an academic who certainly should have known better, but unfortunately lousy scholarship is common in matters concerning the history of chess. Ancient origin of chess is an exceptional claim, and exceptional claims need exceptional evidence. What we've seen so far ain't it. Frankly I'm surprised that you're so sure that there are more than two sentences in that report about chess. Do you think the wikipedia editor who quoted them is sandbagging us and weakening his own argument by not providing the strongest quotes to support the POV he added to the article? What motive would he have to do that? I would expect that he would have made the strongest possible argument in favor of his position. If he did, those two sentences aren't convincing. He admitted that most of his references in support of chess being mentioned in the Mahabharata were one or two throwaway sentences stongly and effectively rebutted by a work that he dismissed as "dated", written 70 or more years before the careless later Mahabharata chess claims were made. Why is this claim different? Anyway, I've said my piece on this talk page. If you want to maintain that the EB has it completely wrong and you think that two sentences in a 20-year-old Indian government report are proof, that's your right. Any further energy I expend on this issue will be more usefully directed to improving the article rather than hammering over the same rebuttals that are ignored over and over on this talk page. I respect your commitment and efforts to improving wikipedia, but on the issue of this specific claim, I think you afford it far greater weight and deference than it deserves. You certainly give it far greater weight than mainstream chess historians do. Quale 15:41, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
  • A postscript. I searched for Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India in my local university's electronic catalog and found that these are numbered. Unfortunately the ref we were given has no number and there are over 90 volumes, so this is a bit of a bother. We do have a year and a page number, which is helpful, although we aren't given the author or editor. Ironically my university library has many of these volumes, but probably not the one in question. The catalog says No. 80 is dated 1981 and No. 82 is dated 1986, so we might want No. 81 ... but my library doesn't have it, and none of the volumes it lists are dated 1985. Quale 15:55, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
The annual government report, not proven to be incorrect, clearly connects Chaturanga (already connected to Chess) with earlier forms. I have maintained that a section dealing with the archaeological chess pieces needs to be made. I can agree that a single mention of archaeological chess pieces found in one country may be of little use unless other countries are mentioned and the whole thing is put in context in an entire section.
I removed the quote. If an entire section is made then put the quotes back in otherwise they can wait for when (or if) an entire section dealing with the archaeological chess pieces is made. You can put them back in case you plan to make a section on the whole thing later. In case you agree please add the contents of this page to archive 1 since this is done (if you have no further objections) and the talk page can benefit from a clean slate. Don't sweat on posting "rebuttals," we're in this (whole thing of trying and writing stuff that will be helpful for people to read) together and it works better if we work with each other.
Mountain Priest 17:38, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Chess pieces as "scientific" talismans??? Vandalism???[edit]

Somebody please explain this, found in the article:

An argument can also be advanced that chess pieces hewn from stone were miniature versions of totems, useful for representing and predicting the conflict of divine forces in nature or society according to scientific methods available to anyone curious enough to inquire.

I wasn't aware that totems could be used to make any sort of predictions that could be termed "scientific" in any way. I will remove the italicized phrase. 00:27, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

Good point. I see how they can hypothesize, but I don't think it'll pass the experimentation part of the scientific method. --JDitto 06:16, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

Cox-Forbes theory[edit]

Why are we promoting Cox-Forbes? It was totally debunked and known to be absolute bullocks as early as 1874. It also looks to me like the Indus Valley Civilization stuff is pure speculation based on a few pieces of clay. Quale 07:11, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

I removed Cox-Forbes from the article. The rest looks good to me. Regards, Mountain Priest 14:04, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Which part of Cox-Forbes is bullocks? I'll grant you the 3000 BC part is. But is chess originating from dice chaturaji really completely out the door as a fringe hypothesis now? Bacchiad 04:11, 30 September 2007 (UTC)