Chess - its Etymology, its Pieces and its Timeline


Chess - probably started in India. There is an early game Chat-u-ranga which translates to “four arms”. “Chatur” is Sanskrit for four and “anga” means arms or limbs. The four members of the Indian army were elephants, horses, chariots, and foot soldiers. Introduced to Persia about 600 AD as chatrang and in Arabic became shatranj based on their word Shah meaning King. Chess as well as the words Check, Checked, Checkers, Exchequer, and Cheque book in English are all derived from that Arabic word "Shah".

In Russian shahmati means "Chess" and shahmat - "The king is conquered" - Checkmate.
In Sanskrit (in India), mita means traversed, measured across, and meted out.
In Arabic mata - dead.

Related to the Aramaic writing on the wall in 465BC in Daniel 5:25-31 "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin" - "Metering, measured, weighed, and separated/parted/Persians". 

Chess Pieces
King (Arabic shah).

Queen (Italian-donna). In Arabic Firz - Vizier - Adviser. In Russian Ferz.

Bishop (In Arabic alfil-elephant, Persian pil-elephant)
In Italian (Alfiere-standard bearer, military officer).
In German and Dutch (Laufer,Loper-Runner). 
In French (Fou-fool, jester, madman).
Bishop in English only, overseer, also related to shape of mitre, headpiece.
Note too Hebrew alef, Arabic-Alif, the first (letter),1000.

Knight (Italian-cavallo) Cavalry.

Rook (Italian torre-tower). Arabic Rukh - Chariot.
Castle in English only.

Pawn (Italian pedone). Foot soldier.

Chess Timeline
Around 1200, the rules of shatranj started to be modified in southern Europe, and around 1475, several major changes made the game essentially as it is known today, all over the world.

The modern rules for the basic moves were apparently first adopted in Italy and Spain. Pawns gained the option of advancing two squares on their first move, while bishops and queens acquired their modern abilities. The queen had replaced the earlier vizier chess piece towards the end of the 10th century in Europe and by the 15th century had become the most powerful piece, consequently, modern chess was referred to as "Queen's Chess" or "Mad Queen Chess". Castling, derived from the "kings leap" usually in combination with a pawn or rook move to bring the king to safety, was introduced.
These new rules quickly spread throughout western Europe and then to America.

Click here for further notes and links. Particularly, looking at that English word "Knight".

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