Trembled with fear, the king finds no way to escape from the overwhelming cavalry and surrounded by the forces of the other side, he finally gives up his throne. It’s not a war story, neither an online multiplayer game. It is an existence that is life in itself. A war simulator for military, a symbol of power for politicians and the decider of the champion of minds. It’s Chess.
In the 6th century, when the youngest prince of the Gupta Empire was killed in battle, his brother told their mother by representing the scene on “Ashtapada” board (8X8) which was used for other entertainment of that time. After that, a new game emerged with two main features, different moves for different kinds of pieces and a single king piece that determined the outcome. The game originally known as “Chaturanga”, a Sanskrit word meaning “four divisions”. The current names and terminologies came to being after its spread in Sassanid Persia. “Chess” came from “Shah” meaning “king” and “Checkmate” from “Shah mat” meaning “the king is helpless”.
When the Islam was spread in Persia in the 7th century, Chess was introduced to the Arab world and it changed its form of tactics in war to an art of expression. The famous historian Al-Mas’udi considered chess as a witness to human free will and from there, chess began to gain its philosophical roots.
As the world became more connected, chess also gained more variants. The Mongolian leader Tamerlane saw an 11×10 board instead of 8×8 where the chess pieces were placed at the intersection of board squares rather than inside. And in Japanese version named Shogi, captured chess pieces could be used against the opposing player.
The game also saw real drama between 1000 AD and 15th century by even having banned in France for a short period of time. But after all those drama, Chess acquired the form as we know today in 15th century when the weak piece known as advisor was replaced into a stronger piece known as queen. After that, many strategies came to being resulting in the formation of Chess Theory. Even then, it would seem that the stronger pieces you have, the more advantage you have on your opponent but the Immortal Game of 1851 between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky made chess more complicated when Adolf Anderssen managed a checkmate by sacrificing both his rooks and his queen.
With the introduction of modern era, Chess also gained geopolitical importance and countries like Soviet Union invested huge amount of resources in bringing up champions. But Chess saw another revolution when a computer known as Deep Blue defeated a sitting champion Garry Kasparov for the first time in 1997. Now, with such technological advancements, we have yet to see the wonders of the king of the games.
I have been playing chess from approximately 5 years now and I still remember the charisma of the first match I had, which still follows. I don’t see just a game here, I see an art of expression, an abstract language of thoughts and a world much deeper than the ocean of life itself. Chess is a world that you can own, predict and dominate.
It won’t be an exaggeration if I say that most of my philosophies about life have a base from chess and one of the most influential of them is when I was learning chess online. I was a beginner at that time and was playing against the software for practice. I moved my pawns one by one marching in to the enemy’s territory and when I moved my knight to take the bishop, the software said, “there’s a better move possible”. I did undo and tried to move something different yet again it said, “there’s a better move possible”. I didn’t knew what could be better so I randomly moved another piece and carried on with the game. After two minutes of play, when I moved my queen one block ahead, the software said it again, “there’s a better move possible”. I saw the enemy’s knight taking out my queen by checking my king at the same time so I realized and did a different move and eventually won the game.
I Can’t say proudly that I won because there were too many “undo” I did but then when I was having some decisions in life, I thought of myself, “Is there a better move possible”? In every moment of our lives, we make decisions and make a move that decides what will happen ahead but have we ever thought that is this decision one of the best ones, isn’t there a better move that we can play? Chess made me realize that there’s always a better move possible. We don’t have to be “Dr Strange” to see multiple outcomes of the future, we are already capable of that so whenever you decide something in future, at least for once think that “is there a better move possible”? If you find out, then make a better decision for yourself because in life, there is no undo button. Only best moves can make you a winner in the game as well as in life.
It’s Jabir….. See you around.