Chess is considered a game of the intellectuals. It demands a keen and alert mind and concentration of the highest order, and it is a serious game, perhaps the most serious played by man. It is played throughout the civilized world. However, it has perhaps fewer followers than any other sport, even though the game has been played for centuries.
Chess dates back to antiquity. How far back is not absolutely known. In 1938, Dr. A.E. Speiser, heading a group of scientists in an exploration sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania and the American School of Oriental Research, excavated pieces of terra cotta believed to have been used as chess “men” in Mesopotamia 6,000 years ago.
The discovery was made on the fourteenth level of the site of ancient Tepe Gawra in Northern Iraq, which belongs, according to some scientists, to the El Obeid period, which existed 5,500 to 6,000 years ago. Some authorities on chess raise a question about the terra cotta pieces being chessmen, since no board of any kind was found with them. But the scientists answer that with the statement that years earlier there was uncovered a circular board belonging to the Byzantine Era, which might have been a chess board, thus, tracing back chess 50 or more centuries.
The exact origin of the game always has been shrouded in the mists, with confusion created by so many different nations claiming the honor for inventing this complicated universal game.
The Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Arabs, Hindus, Castilians, Irish, Mesopotamians, Welsh, Hebrews, Chinese, Scythians and Araucanians all have been credited with founding chess. Some historians claim that King Solomon thought up the mental pastime; others give the honor to Japeth, to Shem, to Xerxes, the philosopher, while many insisted-until a short time ago-that chess was invented by the Chinese Mandarin, Han Sing, during the reign of Kao Tsu, otherwise Pin Lang, then a king, and later Emperor of China (174 B.c.). It was declared that Han Sing, commanding anarmy invading the Shen Si country and seeking some way to keep his soldiers entertained while idle in winter quarters, devised chess, calling it Choke-Choo-Hong-Ki, meaning “science of wars.” Thus, it was not only a game, but a method of schooling troops. To support this contention, those who had espoused the cause of Han Sing, pointed out that chess moves were akin to those made in the military strategy.