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P. A. Stonemann, CSS Dixieland
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CSS Dixieland

Probing the depths of knowledge

These essays by P. A. Stonemann, CSS Dixieland, cover a wide range of historical, philosophical, scientifical and technical subjects. Each page deals with a particular topic, divided into sections and explained by itself. Every page shows at its top hyper links to every other page. The Start page also has short descriptions of the other pages. CSS Dixieland expresses gratitude to the readers that make this work meaningful.

This Web document has been tested with KDE Konqueror, graphic HTML interpreter for Linux. It may not be rendered correctly by other graphic HTML interpreters. It will probably be correct when rendered by text-only HTML interpreters (visual, aural, or Braille tactile interpreters), but if feasible, please use KDE Konqueror. Uniform Resource Locator:

Chess Game page

The game for the superior mind
History and technique of the oldest and most international of all games of intelligence

Chess men in Unicode
Chess men in Unicode symbols
Any text viewer or editor with Unicode can read or also write Unicode chess symbols,
ranging from 0xE2 0x99 0x94 to 0xE2 0x99 0x9F in UTF-8, from 0+2654 to 0+265F in UTF-16,
and from ♔ to ♟ in decimal XML. Any of those methods renders the symbols shown here:
♔ ♕ ♖ ♗ ♘ ♙ ♚ ♛ ♜ ♝ ♞ ♟
The size of those or other characters can usually be defined in most executables that work with Unicode.
Chess symbols are important for trans-linguistic figurine notation (descriptive or algebraic) of chess games.

Sections in this page

  History of chess
  Chronology of chess
  History of chess notation
  Commencement of game
  Conclusion of game
  Sample of master game
  Advice offered by champions
  Hyper links
  Searchable data base of chess moves
  Chess by Internet

Technical note: In languages other than English or Latin, but which use mainly Latin characters, some characters are taken from other alphabets, or some Latin characters are modified with diacritic marks for representing different phonemic sounds or other orthographic conventions of those languages. Those characters, when used in this document, have been encoded as entities of Hyper Text Mark-up Language or sometimes in Unicode UTF-8. Therefore computers using other character encodings may render some characters inaccurately, but hopefully, it will still be possible to read non-English words without too much difficulty.

Chess Grand Master Savielly Tartakower (1887-1956)
Chess Grand Master Savielly Tartakower (1887-1956)
One of the maximum exponents of the Hypermodern Chess Movement,
and one of the most brilliant minds that have existed in the whole History of Chess

History of chess

Chess is the game of intelligence par excellence. Other games also need a good dose of intelligence, such as the game of draughts, but the complexity of chess cannot be matched by any other known game in the World. Until the late XX century there still were a few slight differences in chess rules as played in certain countries, and there may still be some people who play local matches under their old idiosyncratic rules, but for the most part chess is now the only game of truly international scope, its rules being today identical in every country. By comparison, the game of draughts is not so international, as it is played differently in some countries. Even the board for draughts may be of two different numbers of squares, either of 8 x 8 (64 squares) or of 10 x 10 (100 squares), while the board for chess is invariably of 8 x 8 (64 squares). Being so universal, for playing chess it is not strictly necessary even to speak the language of the other player. The two players know the same rules, thus they can play in silence except for the expressions "check" and "check mate", uttered in any language, and just pointing with the finger for choices made at, for instance, promotion of pawns. Traditionally, some expressions like "J'adoube", for arranging the board during a match, are uttered in French.

The origins of chess

The true age of the game known in English as chess is somewhat of a mystery. Several unsubstantiated hypotheses placed the date of invention of chess far earlier than can be supported by historic evidence. According to one tale, chess was invented about 1000 Before Christ by an Indian mathematician who is also credited with the invention of the concept of powers in mathematics. There are also unsubstantiated stories pushing the date of chess as far back as 3000 years ago, based on archeological discoveries in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India. Although ancient Egyptians certainly played board games, there is no known evidence that they ever played chess. Their most important board game was called "senet", which was played between two opponents on a board of 3 x 10 (30 squares). There are senet boards and pieces depicted on Egyptian paintings, as well as complete playing sets found in pharaonic tombs, like that of Tutankhamon, discovered in the 1920's. But senet is not chess. Even weaker is the claim for Mesopotamia as the cradle of chess. For India, though, the case for chess becomes much stronger. Allusions to chess first began to appear in Sanskrit literature in the late VI century or early VII century. Sometimes the only reference is not to chess, but to the chess board called ashtapada. This might have been a genuine chess board, or it might have been an older Indian race game that was also played on an 8 x 8 board, using dice.

The probability is that the board of 64 squares, originally used for the race game, gradually began to be used for experimenting with newly invented games, of which the ancestor of chess took hold. Ashtapada means in Sanskrit "having eight legs". The term "ashtapada" was used for a real spider, for a legendary spider-like monster with eight legs, and for the game board ancestor of chess. However, since there is no known mention of the game in ancient literature before the year 570 after Christ, many historians have categorically affirmed that the date of 570 is the birth date of chess. Probably had been played for years before that, as one of several experiments. The first mention of the game of chess is in a Persian poem dated of the year 600, according to which the advent of chess took place in India. The introduction of chess from India into ancient Persia during the reign of King Chosroe I Anushiravan (531-579) is described in a Persian book dated 650-750. The same book describes chess terminology and the name and functions of the pieces in great detail. Mentions of the game of chess are found in the poems of Firdousi, a Persian poet living at the turn of the X century. In a poem he describes gifts being introduced by a convoy from the Rajah of India at the court of the Persian King Chosroe I Anushiravan. Among these gifts, according to the poem, there was a game which depicted the battle of two armies. After the Persian Empire was conquered by Muslim Arabs in the early VIII century after Christ, the game of chess started to spread throughout all of the civilised World.

There is medieval poetry mentioning chess as being present at the court of the legendary King Arthur of Britain, in the VI century. This is probably false, only the imagination of a poet who lived well after King Arthur. At the time of King Arthur the game already existed in India, but likely it had not yet spread abroad. Chess was introduced into Europe by Muslim Arabs who conquered the lands from North-West India and Persia, reaching the Iberian Peninsula in the year 711. Another possible entrance of chess into Europe through Arab settlements in Sicily has also been proposed by historians, but though the Arabs of Sicily probably played chess (in the Arab form known as "shatranj"), there is no evidence that the game entered the rest of Europe by that route. Chess was later carried into Italy from Germany, already in its European variety. Without any doubt, chess was brought to the Iberian Peninsula by Arabs in 711. According to one legend, an expensive and elaborate chess set was in the early IX century presented as a gift by envoys of the famous Muslim Arab ruler Harun-al-Rashid of Bagdad, to Charlemagne, King of the Francs and Emperor of the West (the origin of the Holy Roman-German Empire).

European chess men

Colours are reversed for black, only white chess men are shown here:


This is one of various traditional representations of chess men in Europe. The forms, colours and decorations of chess men and chess boards vary from a region to another, in some cases considerably. In the British Islands and other parts of Europe the Saint George chess design tended to be predominant until the mid XIX century. In the year 1851 it was organised in London, as part of the 1851 World Fair, the first truly international chess tournament, to which all known strong players in the World had been invited by letter several months in advance. Players of many nations met at the tournament. The Champion was the Prussian Grand Master Herr Adolf Anderssen, who received honours by Her Majesty in person.

In an effort to bring some uniformity to the game, for the benefit of players coming from many countries to participate in the tournament, the organiser of the historical event, British Champion Mister Howard Staunton, decided to use a design that, in his opinion, would be more easily recognisable by non-British players than the Saint George design. The new design became known as 'Staunton Design', although it was not created by him. The so-called Staunton Design is of official use in all matches organised by the Federation Internationale des Echecs, institution headquartered in Sweden that regulates chess world-wide.

Staunton chess set-King Debut Alekhine Defence
A Staunton chess set showing the Alekhine Defence to the King Debut
The rings and captions help in the analysis of possible continuations of the game

First European references to chess

The first references to chess in non-Muslim Europe are in the "Versus de Scachis", appearing in the Einsiedeln manuscript of Switzerland in the year 997, and also in the Catalan Testament of the year 1008, though chess was known in Europe at earlier times. Chess went to Germany from France in the X or the XI century, with the earliest reference in German literature made by a monk, Froumund von Tegermsee, written in 1030-1050. It is said that Svetoslav Surinj of Croatia beat the Venetian Dux Peter II in a chess game, for the right to rule the Dalmatian towns of the Adriatic Sea. From Germany chess spread into Italy, hence later into England and other European nations. By the X-XI centuries chess was known in Scandinavia, and in the XI century it raught Bohemia from Italy (not from Germany). An essential archaeological discovery made at Novgorod in Russia, which consisted of chess pieces of a very characteristic Muslim abstract, proved that before arriving from Europe chess had raught Russia directly from the Middle East, probably carried by Swedish Varangians who made the river and land route between Bizantium and Sweden. To this day, names of chess pieces in Russian indicate Persian and Arabic origins. In old Russian folk poems there are some mentions of chess.

The present day European chess was, however, brought to Russia from Italy through Poland. There is an idea that chess also was brought to Russia by the Tartars who were the Mongol conquerors of the Far East and Middle East, and who had learnt the game from the Persians and Arabs. If true, then chess entered into Russia in different centuries and from three different routes. Chess was forbidden in Europe for some time by the Christian church, because it was often used for gambling, and some idiots even claimed that chess had signs of paganism in it. However, nothing could stop the growing expansion of the noble game among the educated classes, which is proven by the great deal of literature that has been produced throughout the years. The oldest known writings related to chess are from the middle of the IX century, from the Arab author Al-Adli. These writings are collectively known as Mansubat. Chess continued to grow, and soon most of the civilised World knew and cherished this ancient game.

Original form of chess: it has been historically established that chess at its origins was a four sided game, meaning that there were four sets of pieces and was for four players. A die was cast by each player, and according to its result a chess man or another had to be moved. Hence, still today in many parts of the World the original name "shatranj" is used. It is an Arab word derived from the Indian Sanskrit word "chaturanga", where "chatur" means "four" and "anga" means "detachment". A book was written during the Sassanid dynasty (242-651 after Christ) in Pahlavi language (Middle Persian): the "Chatrang Namakwor" ("Manual of Chess"). In modern Persian nearly the same word, shatranj, is used to refer to the game. A generally accepted historical hypothesis is that the word "chess" is derived from the Persian word "shah" ("king"), and the term "checkmate" means "the king is dead" in Persian.

The Muslim Arabs had perhaps more influence in the game of chess than any other culture. The contributions of the early Muslims to the game of chess include blindfold play (without seeing the board), mentioned as early as the year 700, the advent of the first tournaments and qualifying contests, in the second half of the VIII century, the first known chess problems, nearly at the same time, and the first known book on chess (by Al-Adli). The writings of Al-Adli contained first moves, the first chess problems called "mansubat", and discussed the differences between the Persian and Indian rules. Unfortunately, this valuable book is lost today. However, in a Yugoslav library was discovered and later exhibited in 1958 an important Arabic manuscript of the early IX century that contained mansubat. Some of these mansubat or chess problems were based on legends, such as one called "the Dilaram mate". According to the legend, Dilaram was a chess player who gambled in the game all that he had and eventually lost everything. In haste he gambled his wife in one final game, and because of his reckless behaviour he was losing the game and the odds were against him, until his wife noticed that he could mate his opponent in a few moves by sacrificing both of his rooks. So, she whispered this in his ear "loose Your castles and keep Your wife", and he won the game.

The Byzantine form of chess called Zatrikion is played on a round board like a disk, not a square board. The chess men and their moves are similar to those in the Arabic style of the same period. After the introduction of chess into Europe, there appeared many manuscripts of the game. Perhaps the most important and valuable of these manuscripts from the Middle ages is one compiled by Castillian King Alfonso X the Wise in 1283. It is written by different authors, including the King himself. This great book contains 150 miniatures in colour, based on the original Persian paintings. Its chess part includes a collection of conclusions of game derived from Arab literature. Chess was shortly later introduced to many other nations, each of which contributed in a way or another to the development of the game. Today the official game of chess is remarkably very well preserved and not very different from the original one played in India 1500 or so years ago.

Probable spread of chess

The route of the game of chess through different cultures and languages can be summed up in the following diagramme:

Invented in India about 500 or earlier. From India to:
Persia about 570, from Persia to:
Arab Empire about 650, from the Arab Empire to:
Byzantine Empire about 800
From the Byzantine Empire an old version of the game (Arab shatranj) was carried to Russia about 1150 or later by the Swedish Varangians, perhaps also to West Europe by the Crusaders. A legend says that chess might have been carried to Russia by the Tartars about 1250.

From the Arab Empire to Sicily
There is no evidence that chess had been carried into Europe from Sicily (chess entered Italy from Germany, already in its European variety and not in the older variety of Arab shatranj).

From the Arab Empire to the Iberian Peninsula about 711, from the Iberian Peninsula to:
France, from France to:
Germany, from Germany to:
Italy, from Italy to:

From Italy to Poland
From Poland to Russia, but being a newer version (European chess) than the version that had been carried by the Swedish Varangians (Arab shatranj), or that the version that had been carried by the Tartars (probably also Arab shatranj).

From Italy to Scandinavia.

From Italy to England.

It can be seen in the diagramme above that chess did not always spread into geographically contiguous lands, but rather due to other factors, such as naval routes, military campaigns, or commercial relations. As an example, chess entered England from Italy, not from France or from the Low Countries. In fact, except for the Byzantine Empire, the Iberian Peninsula, France, Germany, and perhaps Sicily, it is known beyond doubt that peninsular Italy was the centre of radiation of chess to most European countries. This is understandable, keeping in mind that some of the Italian states, such as Genova or Venice, controlled much of European commerce with the rest of the known World.

Fairy chess men

Colours are reversed for black, only white chess men are shown here:

fairy white archbishop
fairy white axe
fairy white butterfly
fairy white camel
fairy white chancellor
fairy white claw
fairy white cobra
fairy white commoner
fairy white copper
fairy white cub
fairy white dolphin
fairy white dragon
fairy white duck
(or drake)
fairy white flag
fairy white gnu
fairy white hat
fairy white hawk
fairy white horizontal crown
fairy white horizontal sword
fairy white iron
fairy white left
fairy white left shield
fairy white leopard
fairy white lion
fairy white marshall
fairy white nightrider
fairy white pegasus
fairy white princess
fairy white promoted bishop
fairy white promoted dragon
fairy white promoted horizontal sword
horizontal sword
fairy white promoted knight
knight (horse)
fairy white promoted castle
castle (rook)
fairy white promoted sword
fairy white queen
fairy white right
fairy white right shield
fairy white sword
fairy white tower
fairy white unicorn
fairy white viking
fairy white wizard
fairy white wolf
fairy white zebra


Chess has always captured the imagination of intelligent and creative men. One of the results has been the invention of what is called 'fairy' varieties of chess, this is, chess varieties more or less based on European chess or on some of its ancestors (ancestors such as medieval German courier, medieval Iberian grande axedrez, Arab shatranj, Persian chatrang, or Indian chaturanga), or chess varieties based on traditional games which very probably are themselves derived from chaturanga, considered the common ancestor of all or nearly all varieties of chess (traditional games such as Chinese xiangqi, Japanese shogi, Siamese makruk, Cambodjan ouk, or other chess-like games). Most fairy varieties depart from European chess, or from traditional chess-like games of other countries, in one or more groups of characteristics:

-Chess men who have different rules for moving or also for capturing, like pawns in berolina chess (they advance in diagonal and capture ahead in orthogonal), or chess men who have intrinsic royal value, meaning that losing any of them or all of them loses the game, like the two Spartans of 'Spartan' chess (it is a modern invention, unknown to ancient Lakedemonians), or chess men who interchange some characteristics with other chess men, like the 'keen' (moves as king, captures as queen), or the 'quing' (moves as queen, captures as king), or chess men with bizarre peculiarities. The fairy chess men shown above are examples of some of those extravagances. The list is not exhaustive, there are many more.

-Boards smaller or bigger than 8 x 8 squares in either or both dimensions, like the 12 x 8 courier, the 12 x 12 grande axedrez, or the Timur Lenk great chess, or boards of irregular format, like Greek zatrykyon, or boards that unite the edge of one side with the edge of the opposite side, like cylindrical chess, or other special boards, like the three dimensional board inspired on the Science Fiction Star Trek series.

-Different rules for some operations, some of them recent inventions, like Fischer random castling, while others traditionally played in some countries, like Italian 'free' castling (practised in Italy until the XIX century), or Spanish move of two pawns, one step each, for either or both players at the start of the game (practised in Spain until the late XX century, perhaps even today, in non-rated games), or other idiosyncratic rules.

-Games that are identical to European chess in all rules EXCEPT in some fundamental aspect, like German Kriegspiel, played on two boards, where each player only sees his own board, he does not see the moves of the other player (there is a referee who notifies when a move is not legal, but who normally does not intervene in the game).

-Varieties that combine chess with other games (with draughts, for instance), or varieties that introduce rules from other games, like the forced capture or 'blown' chess man (as in draughts), or varieties intended for more than two players (there is a patented chess variety for three players, with chess men of three different colours, each of the three armies starting from one of three non-contiguous sides of an hexagonal board), or varieties of opposite goals, like suicide chess (losing all chess men wins the game), or other unique varieties of difficult classification.

All that creativity exists because chess is an absorbing game for the intelligent mind. Computer executables such as Fairymax come with plenty of varieties already defined in an initiation script. The script is succintly self-documented and allows an inventive player to define his own varieties in many ways, for playing against the computer or against a human opponent (the computer may be used as a board with validation for legality of moves). It is possible to define in Fairymax a huge collection of fairy chess men, all sorts of rules, or combinations of chess with other games, in a board as gigantic as 16 columns (files of width) x 16 lines (ranks of height), thus 256 squares. The only limit is the imagination of the player.

Fairymax can be used with Xboard in Linux or some other Unics systems. In this case the board size is limited by Xboard to 12 columns width x 14 lines height, thus 168 squares. Xboard needs a graphic interface, so if used together, then Xboard and Fairymax may be called by a single command from a terminal emulator. Example:

xboard -depth 8 -fcp "fairymax 22 /media/sda1/fmax.ini"

Where -depth 8 indicates a ply depth of eight moves (white and black counted as separate moves). Ply depth is defined by an integer from 1 (very weak player) to 16 or higher (very strong player, up to about 2050 Elo rating in the case of Fairymax).

-fcp is the Xboard command for calling an engine. Parameters for the engine, if any, must be written after the name of the engine, in double speech marks that include the name of the engine. Speech marks are optional when calling an engine without parameters. Fairymax is here the engine, 22 is a default value (it may be omitted), which indicates a memory of 48 Megabytes for the internal hash table of Fairymax. The value may go from 19 (for 6 Megabytes, less is not recommended) to 25 (for 384 Megabytes), or higher value, but Xboard and other processes also use memory, therefore it should not be specified too much memory for Fairymax.

The path to fmax.ini given above is only an example, it may be different from a computer to another. It points to the initiation script for Fairymax, originally located at /usr/share/games/fairymax in a typical Linux system. The script may be located in another place, giving the path for it when calling Fairymax directly, or when calling Fairymax through Xboard. Commands such as 'find', 'locate' or 'whereis' may be useful for finding the original script, but fmax.ini must not be confused with the 'fmax' programming function. The script fmax.ini should be copied to another location for performing any alterations, without touching the original script.

Many options can be chosen from buttons in the menu of Xboard, such as:

-Help: Page of Xboard in the System Manual. There is also a page of Fairymax, but it cannot be opened from Xboard. See below how to do it.

-Options: General options, time control, adjudications, load or save game, other options. Time control may need to be changed, it comes with 300 seconds to each player by default. That is not serious chess.

-Engine: List of available engines, load new engines, define their settings, et cetera. Some settings depend on the capabilities of each engine.

-Action: Results of games. Useful through an Internet Chess Server, not off-line.

-Mode: Machine plays white or plays black, two machines play (same or different engine), analysis, edit game or position. Two humans can play as 'edit game', using Xboard as a validator for legality of moves, but without clocks.

-View: Engine output, move history, evaluation graphic, edit themes, board, fonts. Evaluation only approximate, and more tactical than strategical, yet useful for example as a guide of what the engine considers a good or bad debut.

-Edit: Copy, paste or edit game or position, move forward or backward in the game. This edition is one of the methods for setting a given problem or end of game, or an interesting situation in a game. Forsyth notation is understood.

-File: New game or fairy variety, load or save game or position, make opening book. A player may compose his own book of favourite chess debuts, which may be used by an engine through Xboard, depending on the engine.

Pages of the System Manual can be opened from command line or terminal emulator:

man fairymax
man xboard

In graphic interface, the help of Konqueror can also be used for opening pages of the System Manual (and of GNU Info), in systems that have the Konqueror executable.

Do not feel lonely if You do not find a human player accepting to play the brilliant and exciting chess variety that You have invented. Play against the computer, it is one of the many reasons why computers exist. Your computer will become Your best friend, not only as a mate for playing games, but in many other aspects too. After all, brilliant minds have always been solitary souls.

Chronology of chess

After Christ:

About 570: Perhaps the first reference to game pieces that could be chess or a similar game is found in "Vasavadatta" by Subandhu (550-620), written in Sanskrit in North West India. This is a romantic story about Princess Vasavadatta of Ujjaini, daughter of King Pradyota. The Princess fell in love with King Udayana of Vatsa. There is a description of chess men (nayadyutair) and chess squares (koshthika) on a two-coloured chess board. The game itself was probably chaturanga (not mentioned by Subandhu), generally considered the ancestor of chess, although some scholars now view this hypothesis with reserve. China has also been proposed as the cradle of chess, but there is no strong evidence to support this alternative hypothesis either. Chaturanga in Sanskrit means four parts or detachments. A typical Indian army had four parts: elephants (dwipa, singular gaja = elephant, today's bishop), chariots (rat-ha = chariot, today's rook, castle), horses (ashwa, singular turaga = horse, today's knight) and Infantry soldiers (patti = soldiers, today's pawns). It seems that chaturanga was initially a game for four players, each with one king, one elephant, one chariot, one horse and four Infantry soldiers, starting the battle from one of the corners. Later it became a game for two players by confederating forces, one of the kings remaining as such and the other king becoming Head of Government (visir = prime minister, today's queen).

About 600: The first known reference to Persian chatrang is in the "Karnamak-i-Artakhshatr-i-Papakan" (The Records of Ardashir, son of Papak), written in Pahlavi (Middle Persian). It is a text to honour Ardashir (Artaxerxes), the founder of the Sassanid Kingdom. He was King of Persia from 226 to 241. The text mentions that Ardashir was skilled at chatrang, in which case the game already existed in Persia in the III century, and in India even earlier. This hypothesis may be taken with some reserve: perhaps the King played another board game and a confusion of names happened to his later chroniclers.

About 620: "Harshacharita" (memoir of Harsha) by Bana Bhatta (Bhattabana), written in Sanskrit. It is a text to honour Harshavardhana (Harsha), an emperor in North India from 606 to 647. There is a reference to the ashtapada board used in chaturanga. Bana also wrote "Kadambari" which might have had several other references to chess.

About 700: "Xusraw Kawadan ud redag" (Khosro, son of Kavad, and his page), written in Pahlavi. It mentions ashtapada, chaturanga and nard. Xusraw I Anushiravan (Khusraw, Khosro, Chosroes) was King of Persia from 531 to 578 or 579. In all likelihood, he was the man who received the first Indian chess set (the legend of the wheat grains doubling on each of the 64 squares: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024... amounting to an incredibly huge number on square 64th).

About 720: From Persia, chess is carried to the Arab Muslim Empire.

European representation of Arab shatranj at the left of the observer, European representation of great shatranj variety at the right.

shatranj.png great_shatranj.png The main differences between Arab shatranj and European chess are:

Each of the eight pawns moves one step even as his first move. There is no capture en passant.

Each of the two elephants moves exactly two steps in diagonal and can jump over friends or enemies.

The visir moves one step in diagonal. He is therefore weaker than the king or than a castle.

There is no castling (interchange of king and castle to middle locations between them).

A solitary king loses. Giving stale mate is a victory, not a tied game (of equal score). There are still other causes that may result in a drawn game (undecided).

Arab shatranj seems to have begun in the early VIII Christian century (late I Islamic century) as a slight variety, if any, from Persian chatrang, as this one was a slight variety, if any, from Indian chaturanga. Shatranj is played until today in some Arab countries, but European chess is also played.

Great shatranj is a complex variety played on a board 10 x 8, adding a few other pieces. It is preferred by some, but not as popular as the traditional shatranj played on a board 8 x 8. European chess is another variety from shatranj, which began to diverge about the year 1300.

In the course of time various new rules were introduced in Europe, notably the elephant became the more powerful modern bishop (perhaps by influence of religious people), and the visir became the much more powerful modern queen (undoubtedly by Machiavellian schemes of feminists). Yes, there were feminists even at that time. Sigh...

First mention of chess in Arabic

About 728: Perhaps the first reference to chess in Arabic is "Naqa'id Jarirwa-al-Farazdaq", a poem by al-Farazdaq (641-728). It mentions Baidaq, the pawn (foot-soldier) of shatranj.

About 800: "Chatrang-namak" (Matigan-i-chatrang), written in Pahlavi, about the history of chatrang and the introduction of the game into Persia during the time of Xusraw I Anushiravan (Khusraw, Khosro, Chosroes) who ruled from 531 to 578 or 579.

About 800: A legend says that the envoys of the Muslim Arab ruler Harun-al-Rashid of Baghdad presented Charlemagne with an expensive chess set.

About 840: "Kitab ash-Shatranj" (Book of Chess) by al-Adli ar Rumi (800-870), in Arabic. This is a lost manuscript, but referenced in later works. It was considered the first comprehensive book dealing with chess. We know of it through referring manuscripts, like that by the Caliph Billah of Baghdad, that preserved some of its text and chess problems. The text included chess history, first moves (commencement), last moves (conclusion) and mansubat (chess problems). The collection had hundreds of chess problems. He also classified chess players into five distinct classes, and found a system for sorting out the first moves into positions, which he called Tabiya. His lost book might have also been the first to describe the knight's tour.

About 845: "Latif fi-sh Shatranj" (Elegance in Chess), shatranj problems by ar-Razi, in Arabic. ar-Razi defeated al-Adli to become the strongest chess player in the World. He also wrote "Kitab ash-Shatranj", which has since been lost. All that has survived of ar-Razi's book are a few opinions on conclusions of game and two chess problems.

About 850: "Haravijaya" (the Victory of Siva) by Rajanaka Ratnakara Vagisvara, in Sanskrit. The book is an epic that describes the defeat of demon Andhaka by Siva. It explained the four units of the old Indian army and the ashtapada, referring to chess. The four units were patti (foot-soldiers), ashwa (horses), ratha (chariots), and dwipa (elephants).

About 875: "Kavyalankara" (A work on poetics) by the poet Rudrata of Kashmir, in Sanskrit. It alludes to the knight's tour problem. It used a half chess board to cover all squares by a chariot (rat-ha = rook), elephant (gaja), and knight (turaga = horse).

About 890: Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahya as-Suli (854-946) co-authored a book of problems (mansubat) and a book of first moves (ta-biyat) for shatranj, called "Kitab-ash-Shatranj" (Book of Chess), volume one and two. He was assisted by Abu l-Abbas Ahmad ibn Muhammad as-Sarakhsi, a physician. One of his books contained the knight's tour on an 8 x 8 chess board. as-Suli was the strongest player of his time, the World Champion. One of as-Suli's books was a critique on al-Adli's book.

About 900: Entry on the Chinese version of chess in the Chinese work "Huan Kwai Lu" (Book of Marvels).

About 920: "Kitab mansubat ash-Shatranj" (Book of Chess problems) by Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Muzaffar ibn Sa'id al-Lajlaj (900-970), in Arabic. It is another lost chess book. Manuscripts containing some of its content have survived. He might have been the first person to analyse and publish chess first moves. Al-Lajlaj means the stammerer. The oldest chess game today known comes from a match between as-Suli and al-Lajlaj.

About 920: "Kitab akhbar ar-rusul wal-mulukthe" by the historian Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari (838-923). He mentioned a chess incident in 802 between Nicephorus, Emperor of Byzantium, and the Caliph Harun al-Rashid. He described another incident of how the caliph al-Mutazz was playing a game of chess when a messenger brought the head of his rival, al-Musta'in, to him. The caliph paid no attention until the chess game was over.

947: "Muraj adh-dhahab" (Fields of Gold) by the historian Abu al-Hassan Ali ibn al-Husain ibn Ali ibn Abdullah al-Masudi (888-956), in Arabic. It is a history of chess in India and Persia. al-Masudi is known as the Herodotus of the Arabs. He was the first to combine History and scientific Geography in a large-scale work. He wrote a History of the World in thirty volumes. He describes six different varieties of chess, including astrological chess, Byzantine round chess, circular chess and cylindrical chess. He mentions chess wagers in India, who gambled at chess games. He describes the use of ivory in India to make chess pieces.

Chess is mentioned in Europe

997: "Versus de Scachis" in the Einsiedeln manuscript, in Switzerland, is the earliest known text mentioning chess in non-Muslim West Europe. It is a Latin poem on chess, in 99 lines. It describes a chess board in two colours. Shatranj was already known to the Arabs settled in the South Iberian Peninsula since the year 711, probably also known to the Arabs settled in Sicily.

1008: Mention of chess in the last will of Count Ermengaud I of Urgel, in Catalonia, the second earliest known reference in non-Muslim West Europe. He willed his chess men to the Convent of Saint Giles of Nimes.

Late X century: Dark and light squares are introduced on a chess board. This was not always done as a rule.

1011: "Shahnama" (Book of Kings), the national epic of Persia, begun by Daqiqi (900-976) in 975 and finished by Abu'l-Qasim Mansur Firdawsi (940-1020) in 1011, in Pahlavi. It is similar to the Chatrang-namak. It tells how chatrang was introduced into Persia from India. Ambassadors from India (Hind) came to Persia during the reign of Nushirwan (Chosroes I Anushirwan) with a chess board and chess men. If the Persians could solve how the chess men were correctly set on a chess board, then the Indians would pay the tribute to the Persians. If they could not solve the problem, then the Persians were intellectually inferior and the Indians would no longer have to give tribute to Persia. In fact, if the Persians could not solve how the pieces were set up, then Persia would pay tribute to India. The Persian King's minister, Buzurjmihr, took the board and pieces to his home and discovered the secret in a day and a night. This is of course an idiotic story, because the initial array of the chess board is completely conventional. But those legends seem to be fond of idiotic stories.

About 1030: "Tarikh al-Hind" (History of India) by Abu'r-Raihan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Beruni (973-1048), also known as Alberuni, in Arabic. It is a travel description, including the rules of chaturanga for four players, using a die.

1030: "Ruodlieb" by a monk from the Abbey of Tegernsee in Upper Bavaria, German romantic poem in Latin. It is the first reference to chess (ludus scachorum) in German literature (not yet in German language). A knight was in the company of an enemy king (either King Henry II or King Robert of France), to whom he beat at chess.

1058: The last will of Countess Ermessind of Barcelona mentions chess. She left to the Convent of Saint Giles of Nimes her crystal chess men.

1061: Cardinal Petrus (Pietro) Damiani (1007-1072) of Ostia writes a letter to Pope-elect Alexander II and Archdeacon Hildebrand (later Pope Gregory VII) complaining about chess being played by lay people. He urged the Pope to forbid chess to the clergy and to punish the Bishop of Florence (who later became Pope Nicholas II) who played chess at a lodging. Cardinal Damiani was later canonised and made Doctor of the Church. Damiani's efforts placed chess in the list of games forbidden to the clergy. The reason explained was that chess was often used for gambling.

About 1110: Encyclopaedia "Manasollasa" (Delight of the Spirit), by the South Indian King Sovedeva, in Sanskrit. It is the first description of chess in South India. It gives a long list of games played, including chess.

1148: "Rajatarangini" (River of Kings) by Kalhana, in Sanskrit. It is a chronicle of the Kings of Kashmir. It alluded to chaturanga for four players.

1148: "Alexiad", a History in fifteen volumes, in Greek. This is the first Greek reference to chess. It is the biography of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnena (1050-1118) by his daughter Anna Comnena, while in exile. In book twelfth she describes her father playing chess with friends. She also says that chess was invented by the Assyrians, which is very probably wrong. The Crusaders might have known chess from Emperor Alexius Comnena, and might have brought it into West Europe.

1173: Earliest recorded use of an algebraic notation. Descriptive notation is anyway the preferred one by most writers.

About 1250: "Quaedam moralitas de scaccario per Innocentium papum" (the Innocent Morality), in Latin. It might be the oldest of chess moralities. The World resembles a chess board. Things are in black or white. The colours represent life and death, or praise and blame. It was firstly attributed to Pope Innocent III (1163-1216), a prolific sermon writer. Later, it was attributed to John of Wales (1220-1290), a Franciscan who taught at Paris and Oxford, who was a chess player.

About 1205: "Wigalois" by Wirnt von Gravenberg. It mentions medieval German courier chess, played on a 12 x 8 board.

About 1280: "Liber de moribus hominum et officiis nobilium" by Jacobus de Cessolis (1250-1322), a Dominican from Lombardy. It is one of the earliest allegories and moralities pertaining to chess, and it began as a sermon. Probably no other book of mediaeval times was copied so much, it even rivalled the Bible. The sermon is divided in four books and twenty-four chapters. The first book deals with the origin of chess and the fourth book deals with the moves of the chess men. The other books explain the pieces as symbolical of the feudal society. He attributes the invention of chess to Babylon during the reign of King Merodach. Chess corrected the evil manners of this King and avoided his idleness. This is almost for sure historically wrong. It is a version of the original Innocent Morality.

The first rules specifically for European chess

1283: "Libro de Juegos del Axedrez, Dados y Tablas" (Book of Games of Chess, Dice and Tables) written by different authors, compiled by King Alfonso X the Wise of Castille (1221-1284), who also wrote some parts. This is the first encyclopaedia of games in Europe. The first of seven parts of the manuscript is devoted entirely to chess, explaining the rules of Arab shatranj (not of the European variety of chess, which did not yet exist). The book contains a hundred and three problems and includes descriptions of some chess varieties, such as medieval Iberian grande axedrez, played on a board 12 x 12 and in vogue with Iberian nobility in the Middle Ages.

About 1300: In Europe is introduced a new rule: pawns can now move two squares in their first move. With this rule, European chess begins to diverge from Arab shatranj. The book compiled and in part authored by King Alfonso the Wise was known or commented among some of the strongest European players, and it was probably decisive for developing the European variety of chess.

About 1340: "Gesta Romanorum", in Latin. It is a collection of stories and moralities. Three chapters relate to chess.

About 1350: Mention of chess in "Nafa'is al-funun" (Treasury of the Sciences), by Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Amuli (1300-1352), encyclopaedia in Persian. The first chapter describes the invention of chess in India. The second chapter deals with the games derived from chess. This source is the first to describe Timur Lenk's great chess.

About 1400: In Europe is introduced the rule of "capture en passant", as a consequence of the two squares allowed to pawns in their first move. It is another rule that never existed in Arab shatranj.

1422: A manuscript from Kraków sets the rule that giving stale mate is a tied or drawn game (in Arab shatranj it is a victory).

1432: "Guldin Spil", by Johannes Ingold (1400-1465), a chess morality in German. He writes about the seven deadly sins, illustrating each with a game. Chess represented pride and humility.

About 1450: "Panchadandachattraprabandha" mentions chess without die. The book is a tale of King Vikramaditya (380-413).

1471: The Gottingen manuscript is the first European book to deal solely with chess.

1474: "The Game and Playe of the Chesse", by William Caxton (1422-1491), first chess book in English. It is a translation from the "Moralité Innocent" by Jehen de Vignay, a French version of the Innocent Morality. It is the third book printed in English language, after the Bible and "The Recuell of the Historyes of Troye", and the first English book published in England (the other two books were not initially published in England, and those that were published in England before Caxton's book were usually in Latin language). This book on chess by Caxton is the first printed book in English language that makes extensive use of xylographs (woodcuts) for illustrations.

European representation of Siamese makruk at the left of the observer, European representation of Chinese xiangqi at the right.

makruk.png xiangqi.png It seems that when European chess was beginning to diverge from Arab shatranj, some varieties of the game had existed for centuries in the Asian Far East.

Traditional chess varieties in Burma, Siam, Cambodja and other parts of South-East Asia are similar to Arab shatranj, though probably derived directly from Indian chaturanga.

One difference from shatranj is that in the Siamese game (named makruk) and in some of its varieties such as the Cambodjan game (named ouk), the ASEAN game, or the ai-wok game, each of the eight pawns promotes when reaching the sixth line of his advance.

Another difference is that the opposing kings are not in the same column at the start of the game. Each king starts with his visir at his right side.

The Chinese game (named xiangqi) is very different. Its board is 9 x 10 and the pieces and rules diverge from those of South-East Asia.

Another is the Japanese game (named shogi). It enjoys tremendous popularity in Japan, where shogi tournaments and championships are often portrayed in public media, shogi clubs abound, and the best shogi players are famous throughout the country, albeit little known outside Japan.

Chess becomes a respectable game in Europe

1495: "Libre dels jochs partits dels schacs en nombre de cent" (Book of matches played at chess in number of a hundred) by Francesch Vicent, in Catalan, published in Valencia. It is a lost book. The last known copy was seen in 1811. It was a book on chess first moves, mentioning for the first time the move that the queen and bishop have today. It was the first treatise on European chess, as opposed to the Arab shatranj earlier explained in all European books.

1497: "Repetición de amores e arte de axedrez con CL Juegos de partido" (Discourse on Love and Art of Chess with CL -150- matches played), by Luis Ramirez de Lucena, in Castillian Spanish. It is the first surviving book with the rules of European chess, only eight copies are known to exist. The book is the first to include the old rules of Arab shatranj and the new rules of European chess, most notably the movements of queen and bishop. It analyses commencements and conclusions of games (first moves and last moves).

1512: "Questo libro e da imparare giocare a scachi et de li partiti" (This book is about chess and how to play its games), in Italian, by the Portuguese player Pedro Damiano (1480-1544). Published in Rome, it was the first chess book printed in Italy. Damiano suggests that the game was invented by Xerxes Emperor of Persia (almost certainly Damiano is wrong), which is why chess is known as "axedrez" in old Portuguese and in old Castillian ("xadrez" in modern Portuguese, "ajedrez" in modern Castillian Spanish).

1513: "Scacchia Ludus" (Game of Chess), in Latin, by Marcus Antonius Hieronymus Vida, Bishop of Alba (1490-1566). He is the first to mention Tower and castle (rook). The poem inspired Jones's Caissa, the Muse of Chess. It describes a chess game between Apollo and Hermes.

1555: "Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus" (History of the Northron Peoples), by Olaus Magnus (1490-1557), in Latin, published in Rome. His book is the first comprehensive History of Scandinavia. He describes chess in the Scandinavian countries. It describes Norse parents playing chess with the lovers of their daughters, thus determining if they were good suitors by noting their conduct during the game.

1561: "Libro de la invención liberal y arte del juego del axedrez" (Book of the free invention and art of the game of chess), in Castillian Spanish, by Ruy López de Segura (1530-1580). He wrote the book in response to Damiano's book. He coined the word "gambito" to describe sacrifices in the first moves.

1597: "Libro nel quale si tratta della maniera di giucar a scacchi, con alcuni sottilissimi partiti" (Book in which it is dealt with the manner of playing chess, with some very subtle matches), in Italian, by Orazio (Horatio) Gianutio di Mantua, published in Torino. It contains six commencements of game and a few problems.

1604: "Trattato dell'inventione et arte liberale del gioco degli scacchi)" (Treaty on the invention and free art of the game of chess), in Italian, by Alessandro di Salvio (1575-1640), published in Napoli. It contains thirty-one chapters with first moves in chess.

1614: "Famous Games of Chesse-play", in English, by Arthur Saul. It classifies different kinds of mate, including stale mate, scholar's mate, and fool's mate.

1616: "Das Schach-oder Konig-Spiel" (Chess of the King's Game), in German, by Augustus (Gustavus Selenus) Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg (1579-1666), published in Leipzig. It is the first instructive chess book in German. Much of it is an Italian-to-German translation of Tarsia. This was a Spanish-to-Italian translation made by Tarsia of the book written by Ruy López de Segura.

1620: Gioachino Greco (1600-1634) writes on chess traps.

1656: "The Royall Game of Chesse-play", an English translation by F. Beale of the book written by Gioachino Greco. Sometimes the recreation of the late King of England, with many of the nobility. It contains chess traps and almost a hundred gambits.

1689: "Historia shailudii" (History of chess), in Latin, by Thomas Hyde (1636-1702). This is the first scholarly account on chess History.

Early classifications of first moves

1690: "Traité du jeu royal des echecs" (Treaty on the royal game of chess), in French, by B. Asperling (1650-1710), published in Lausanne. For the first time in the World there is a systematic classification of first moves in chess. Asperling was a strong player who could also play without seeing the board.

1694: "De Ludis Orientalibus" (The Oriental Game), in Latin, by Thomas Hyde.

1735: "The Noble Game of Chess", in English, by Joseph Bertin (1695-1736). It contains "Rules and Instructions for the Use of those who have already a little Knowledge of this Game". It is the first worthwhile chess book in the English language. It contains analysis of first moves, twenty-six games, and useful advice about the middle game.

1737: "Essai sur le jeu des echecs" (Essay on the game of chess), in French, by Phillip Stamma (1705-1760), published in Paris. It contains a hundred conclusions of game with diagrammes. It is the first book using algebraic notation.

1744: In Paris, Philidor plays without seeing the board against two opponents. Philidor was eighteen years old.

1745: "Noble Game of Chess", in English, by Phillip Stamma (1700-1760). It contains seventy-four commencements and a hundred conclusions of game. Stamma had become one of the best players in England.

1748: "Analyze du jeu des echecs" (Analysis of the game of chess), in French, by André François Danican Philidor (1726-1795), published in London. It is one of the chess books of most renown of all time, and made Philidor and the publishers wealthy. It was the first chess book to be translated into Russian and the second that systematically classified first moves. The numbering of moves is organised in the book by Philidor in a different way that it had been organised in the "Traité du jeu royal des echecs" of 1690 by Asperling. Philidor lists each white move and its black reply with the same number, but in the book by Asperling the white move receives a number and the black move receives the next.

1763: Inspired by the poem "Scacchia Ludus" of 1513, William Jones invents Caissa, the Muse of Chess.

1769: Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen builds the mechanical Turk, supposedly a machine that plays chess. It was a hoax, as Edgar Allan Poe discovered in an exhibition of the Turk, organised by Maeltzel in North America in the 1840's. In reality, a strong human player was hidden inside the machine. The turk was accidentally destroyed in a fire. There were some other machines with a hidden human player or remotely controlled by a human player, but the first real chess playing machine appears in 1890 for the conclusion of king and castle against king, and there are computer executables since the late 1950's for playing a complete game.

1783: Philidor plays without seeing the board as many as three games simultaneously.

1802: "Chess Made Easy", in English, by J. Humphreys. Earliest known North American chess book. By the marketing title, it is obviously North American.

1813: The Liverpool Mercury prints the World's earliest chess column in a newspaper.

1824: Earliest known British correspondence match, London-Edinburgh.

1834: Earliest recorded international challenge match: the Irish McDonnell against the French de la Bourdonnais, played at the Westminster Chess Club in London. In another international match shortly later, the English Howard Staunton wins against the French masters.

1840: Postal stamps with chess motifs begin to appear.

1845: Telegraph is used to transmit moves in a match between London and Portsmouth.

1846: The "Deutsche Schachzeitung" is the first German chess magazine.

1848: Earliest known instance of a game between blind players.

1849: A chess set created by Nathaniel Cook is later named "Staunton chess set", because British Champion Howard Staunton introduced the set's design into the first International Chess Championship of 1851. The chess set design most commonly used until that time was the "Saint George chess set" (still in use today, but only for unofficial games).

World Championships make European chess international

1851: Universal Fair in London. The British Chess Club, commanded by the British Champion Howard Staunton, organises the first International Chess Championship as part of the Fair, and invites by letter to all known strong players in the World. Of those who attend, the Prussian Adolf Anderssen becomes the Champion.

1852: Sand-glasses are first used to time a game.

1857: First North American Chess Congress, won by Paul Morphy of Louisiana. The following year, in Europe, Paul Morphy defeats Adolf Anderssen of Prussia.

1857: The United Kingdom Chess Association is formed.

1861: Games can now be played via submarine cables (Dublin-Liverpool).

1862: Paul Morphy of Louisiana, Confederate States, is unable to attend the European match (due to the War for Confederate Independence in North America), making it possible for Adolf Anderssen of Prussia to be again considered the strongest active player in the World.

1867: Mechanical clocks are introduced in tournament play.

1870: Earliest recorded tournament in Germany (Baden-Baden).

1871: Durand publishes the first book on conclusions of game.

1873: The Sonneborn-Berger system is first used in a tournament.

1877: Formation of the Deutsche Schachbund.

1883: Invention of the Forsyth notation. It is not for recording a complete game, but for indicating the location of each chess man at a certain point during the game, or for giving a set chess problem.

1886: First official match for the Champion title between Steinitz and Zukertort. Its conclusion is so levelled, that for a time both were equally considered as the strongest World players.

1888: First international correspondence tournament.

1890: Leonardo Torres y Quevedo chess machine, to play the conclusion of king and castle against king. This is the first chess playing machine in the World, today conserved in the museum of the Polytechnic University, Madrid. The machine is capable of recognising foul play, playing then the appropriate track of a cylinder phonograph that says aloud "! No quiero jugar mas, te desprecio !" (I do not want to play more, I scorn thee !). At the conclusion of a game correctly played, another phonograph track sounds "? Jugamos otra partida ?" (Shall we play another match ?).

1894: Emmanuel Lasker defeats Steinitz in a World Championship match.

1895: Grand International Chess Congress at Hastings, England.

1899: Chess clocks now have time-out flags.

1902: First chess match by wireless telegraph, between two North American ships.

1910: José Raúl Capablanca y Graupera, from Cuba, is the first player to win a major tournament (in New York) with a clean 100% score (meaning that he did not lose even one game). For this feat, he receives the nickname of "The Chess Machine".

1911: The first simultaneous display with more than a hundred participants.

Medieval German courier at the left of the observer, medieval Iberian grande axedrez at the right.

courier.png grande_axedrez.png In the Middle Ages strange varieties of chess were experimented in Europe, and some of them enjoyed frequent practice in certain countries or among certain social classes. Although those varieties subsequently lost their former appeal, they became historically famous nonetheless.

One was the medieval variety known as courier chess, played on a board 12 x 8, which for a time became the fashion in Germany and other parts of Central Europe.

Another was in vogue among the medieval nobility in the Iberian Peninsula. It was the grande axedrez, played on a board 12 x 12. This complex variety was described in the book compiled and in part authored by Castillian King Alfonso the Wise in the year 1283.

Axedrez is the medieval Iberian name for chess, which is named ajedrez in modern Spanish and xadrez in modern Portuguese.

German courier and Iberian grande axedrez were intermediate between Arab shatranj and European chess. As in shatranj, they probably had the rule that a solitary king loses, and that giving stale mate is a victory, not a tied or drawn game.

Grande axedrez became an historical curiosity in the course of time, but courier was still played in a few German towns as late as the XVII century, perhaps later. Both can be played today using computer, with for example the Fairymax executable.

A common tendency of courier, grande axedrez, and other strange varieties of chess, was to make the board of many squares and to introduce all sorts of fairy pieces, perhaps with the idea that 'the more complex, the better game'.

As if chess were not complex enough already...

Chess encyclopaedias, famous champions, and computers

1913: "A History of Chess", in English, by Harold J. R. Murray, published by Oxford University Press. A monumental book, it has nine hundred pages and it still remains the best reference to chess History.

1913: The grasshopper is the first fairy piece invented, having its origin in the Renaissance "leaping queen".

1914: Patronised by the Czar of Russia, the Chess Championship of Saint Petersburg assembles the best players in the World. Five of them stand out as the strongest: Emmanuel Lasker, José Raul Capablanca y Graupera, Alexandr Alekhine, Siegbert Tarrasch and John Marshall. The five are awarded by the Czar with the title of Grand Master.

1919: Capablanca plays a simultaneous match in the House of Commons, London, against thirty-nine players.

1921: British correspondence championship starts.

1924: Establishment of the Federation Internationale Des Echecs. The so-named "Staunton chess set" (created by Nathaniel Cook) is officially adopted for all rated games.

1927: First official Chess Olympiad, in London.

1935: Alexandr Alekhine loses his title of World Champion to Max Euwe. Alekhine would recuperate his lost title two years later.

1937: An impressive record of blind-fold play, simultaneously against thirty-four opponents.

1946: Reigning World Champion Alexandr Alekhine dies in Portugal, leaving his title up for grabs in a six-player tournament organised by the Federation Internationale Des Echecs. Alekhine is until now the only man who died being a World Champion of chess, at least in the last two hundred years.

1948: Claude Shannon speculates on how computers might play chess.

1950: Candidates tournaments start, organised by FIDE.

1951: Chess World Junior Championship starts, organised by FIDE.

1952: The Soviet Union begins its string of Olympiad victories in Helsinki (Helsingfors).

1956: Darmouth, ten experts in diverse disciplines meet to create the basis for what they call Artificial Intelligence. Besides other applications, the first computer programmes for playing chess are presented.

1958: First elementary but complete programme for playing chess against a computer, by Doctor A. L. Samuel (International Business Machines).

1977: Nona Gaprindashvili wins the tournament at Lone Pine. It is uncommon for a woman to win a major tournament, in spite of chess being much more intellectual than physical. Some other of the highest women players in the history of chess have been Vera Menchik and Polgar Judit.

1993: Gary Kasparov and Nigel Short break from the Federation Internationale Des Echecs to play their World Championship match, forming the Professional Chess Association.

1997: The Deep Blue computer of IBM beats Gary Kasparov in the first game won by a chess playing computer against a reigning World Champion, under normal chess tournament conditions.

2000: Gary Kasparov loses his title of World Champion to Vladimir Kramnik.

The title of World Champion in reality belongs to computers. No human can beat the best computers anymore. Hungarian mathematician Arpad Elo invented a method for calculating the strength of chess players, by comparison of their victories, tied or drawn games, and defeats. The chess strenght of an absolute beginner may be 600 or 700 Elo, that of an occasional player 900 or 1000 Elo, of an average regular player 1200 to 1400 Elo, of a strong player 1600 to 1800 Elo, of a Chess Master 2000 to 2200 Elo. World Champion Gary Kasparov was ranked in his best years at the end of the XX century as about 2400 Elo. As of 2020, the strongest Grand Masters are over 2600 Elo, while the human World Champion Magnus Carlsen and a few of the strongest Candidates to the Title of World Champion reach 2800 Elo.

With computers the evolution of ranking is similar as with humans. The first chess-playing main frame computers of the late 1950's and all of the 1960's, or the first chess-playing programmes for microcomputers at the end of the 1970's, or the first portable, dedicated chess-playing machines, also at the end of the 1970's, did not reach 1000 Elo. Chess-playing main frame computers of the 1970's were already stronger, but not commercially available to the general public. Dedicated chess-playing machines (like those of the Saitek series), or equivalent computer programmes commercially available at the end of the 1990's, were between 2000 and 2200 Elo. In 2020 there are some really impressive computers that fly well beyond 3000 Elo. It is said that although the top computers cannot be beaten by humans in tactical combinations, those same computers still lack the strategic vision that is characteristic of the best human champions. That assertion may only be a token of consolation.

A token of consolation for human anthropocentrism. Computers teach humans a lesson of their place in the Universe. Computers show that humans are not at all the "Kings of Creation" that they mistakenly suppose to be. But computers are built and programmed by A FEW HUMANS. Then only an elite, that of the most brilliant scientific or technical human minds, can really boast of possessing an intellectual superiority. Not the whole human species, whose vast majority is composed of "patzers" (ignorants). Claude Shannon admitted as early as 1948 that computers can be taught to play chess. Because the act of playing chess is universally seen as an activity of thinking, then one of two possibilities must logically be derived: either that the concept of "thinking" must be re-thought, or that computers can think by themselves. The author of these Web pages is strongly in favour of the second possibility.

History of chess notation

The number of books on chess is greater than the number of books on all other games combined. Yet, chess books would be few and far between if there were not an efficient way to record the moves of games. Chess notation is thus the special written language of chess players, making it possible for a single book to contain hundreds of games by great players, or thousands of opening variations.

Surprisingly, however, chess notation has been slow to evolve. As late as the early nineteenth century, many chess books simply indicated moves in full sentences. In Shakespeare's day, for example, the standard English chess book gave the black move Q3BK (queen to 3 bishop king) as follows: "Then the black king for his second draught bringth forth his queene, and placeth her in the third house, in front of his bishop's pawne". As a result of so long and potentially confusing descriptions of moves, very few games before the 1800's were recorded and preserved in print, and published analysis of games was correspondingly limited.

The great XVIII century French musician, chess player and chess writer André François Danican Philidor (1726-1795), in his highly influential chess book "Analyze du jeu des echecs" (Analysis of the game of chess), published in London in 1748 in French language, continued writing moves as full sentences. One move might read, translated from French: "The bishop takes the bishop, checking". Or the move P5K (Pawn 5 king) would appear as "King's pawn to adverse 4th". Ocasionally Philidor abbreviated something, but generally he liked to spell everything in full.

The Syrian chess player and chess writer Phillip Stamma (1705-1760), in his book of composed problems "Essai sur le jeu des echecs" (Essay on the game of chess), published in Paris in 1737, introduced the shorthand notation that is today called "algebraic". It contains a hundred conclusions of game with diagrammes. In 1745 he issued an expanded edition in English that included opening analysis and retained the algebraic notation. Stamma's system was almost identical to modern algebraic notation, with the columns (files) of the board designated from "a" to "h" and the lines (ranks) numbered from "1" to "8". He tried to make the notation completely international by using standard piece names as well as standard letters and ciphers for the squares. Thus, the king's rook (castle) was written as "H" throughout the game, because it began on the "h" column. For similar reasons the king was always "E" and the queen always "D", the queen's knight was "B" and so on, with each piece being named for its starting column.

That system for piece symbols would have totally eliminated language differences across countries, but it was not widely accepted, and each country continued to use piece names in different languages to this day, and therefore also different square names when writing in descriptive notation. Nevertheless, modern figurine notation, either algebraic or descriptive, with printed piece symbols instead of names, is coming into use as a new way of reviving Stamma's old idea of a totally international notation.

Philidor and Stamma were rivals, as players and as writers. Philidor soundly defeated Stamma in a match, after which Philidor's book became more popular than Stamma's book in England, and the descriptive notation system therefore became predominant. However, Stamma's book also continued to enjoy popularity, and by the XIX century Stamma's algebraic system had become usual in some European countries. Thus began the battle between descriptive and algebraic notations that continues today. The German Schachbuch of Von Der Lasa, in the middle of the XIX century, used an algebraic notation of its own, different from that of Philip Stamma.

Clearly, however, Philidor's way of recording moves had to be made more efficient if chess literature were to have room to grow. A major innovation in that respect occurred in 1817, when an edition of Philidor's works introduced a system of abbreviations into Philidor's ponderous notation. Those abbreviations were introduced rather timidly and with suitable apologies to the reader. Over the next few decennia more use of abbreviations occurred, and the descriptive notation of modern times slowly took shape. As notation simplified, chess books were able to include more information, and the number of chess books began to increase exponentially.

Following there is a sample of different ways of giving the first white move H1HK-3BK (Knight from 1 knight king to 3 bishop king, known as Zukertort or Reti Debut) in English descriptive notation, taken from books written in different years, so as to illustrate the slow evolution of the system. Notice the subtle changes that creep in virtually one letter at a time. Apparently too much change could not be tolerated all at once.

View from white at the left of the observer, from black at the right.

1_H1HK-3BK_zukertort_or_reti_debut.png 1_H1HK-3BK_zukertort_or_reti_debut.png 1614: The white king commands his owne knight into the third house before his owne bishop.
1750: K. Knight to His Bishop's 3d.
1837: K. Kt. to B. third sq.
1848: K. Kt. to B's 3rd.
1859: K. Kt. to B. 3d.
1874: K Kt to B3
1889: KKt - B3
1904: Kt-KB3
1946: N-KB3

In English, "Kt", "N" or "H" are different ways of naming the knight. An option for trans-linguistic notation of chess games is to use figurine notation, descriptive or algebraic. Unicode chess symbols exist for that purpose, and can be used from any text viewer or editor with Unicode:
♔ ♕ ♖ ♗ ♘ ♙ ♚ ♛ ♜ ♝ ♞ ♟

In spite of the use of algebraic notation by certain 'modern' chess players or writers, the traditional notation in English is the descriptive one, and consequently that is the only notation used in this chess page of CSS Dixieland, whether the 'moderns' like it or not. This is done in order to preserve the long honoured Tradition in the English language of writing chess moves in descriptive notation. Latin languages such as French, Italian, Catalan, Portuguese and Spanish also have a long tradition of writing in the descriptive notation. A good many of the best chess champions in History have used descriptive notation in their own scores and have written books and essays in descriptive notation. It would be unloyal to them to abandon our cherised descriptive notation system.

Commencement of game

A game of chess is a logical continuity. Expressions such as "commencement", "middle" and "conclusion", or other expressions of similar meaning, should of course be regarded as only arbitrary references to gradual phases in the progress of a match between two players. Even so, these designations are convenient because they give an idea of how far the match has gone and of the complexities that the battlefield can be expected to show. A match may be concluded by check mate very early, or it may extend for hundreds of moves. It may be commenced with typical, well known first moves by both players, or else with somewhat unusual or highly unusual first moves from the part of one of the players or from both. This is largely a question of personality. It is a fact that average people tend to repeat ad nauseam well trodden paths, but uncommon individuals tend to experiment along lines that nobody has explored before. One way or the other, the only two phases that can be thoroughly analysed are the commencement and the conclusion, because the middle game normally presents so many complexities that its complete analysis escapes even to the best players.

There is also a factor of intuitive thinking in chess, based on the experience of a player for recognition of patterns. It would be impossible even for the most powerful computer to analyse exhaustively all the possibilities, because the number of combinations grows exponentially to millions after only a few moves. A rational analysis in the middle game can, therefore, reach only a very limited ply depth, but in the phases of commencement or of conclusion, the reasoning can often reach farther. Besides these tactical considerations, we also have the strategical ones in all phases of the game. A game approaching its conclusion with only kings and pawns is a good example of a prevailing strategical reasoning over a tactical one: we do not normally need to analyse all possible continuations, just enough for preventing our last pawn to be captured or blocked in its advance to promotion, and for not provoking the stale mate of the enemy king. We just move forward and promote the pawn, because we know that in few moves after the promotion, our opponent will in most cases be defeated.

In the phase of commencement, however, we ought to take strategical as well as tactical factors into consideration. A master game of chess is a balanced equilibrium between attack and defence, although some players tend to be more for the attack ("combinational" players), and others more for the defence ("positional" players), but all of them must study and practice the first moves of a game until they choose, or they naturally fit by temperament, in their own style of playing. This is called by some authors "opening theory", and it must be said that beyond a few obvious principles of good sense, the way of commencing a game in chess is much of a personal choice. Usual first moves have been analysed to satiety in chess literature, studying thousands of lines and variations. They are also followed religiously by most players in actual games. Therefore, let us look at the unusual ones, those commencing moves and some of their continuations that few players will ever execute in a serious match, strange moves to which the vast majority of players will frown if seen executed by another player.

Unusual first moves

Either for white or for black, commencing a game in a way considered "unusual" is an excellent initial advantage. Most players commence by moving the king's pawn two squares (King or Royal Debut). A smaller but still important number of players do likewise with the queen's pawn (Queen Debut). Still a smaller though somewhat representative number of players tend to commence with the kings's knight (Zukertort or Reti Debut) or with the queen bishop's pawn (English Debut). They do not normally think that other ways of commencing a game also exist. Most of those players would be baffled if confronted with an unusual first move, made either by white or by black. These unusual first moves are not necessarily bad, they are just uncommon.

Black first moves like the Dutch Defence (also called Stein or Fred Defence, 2 p2bk-4bk) are not seen every day. Some of them would be in fact very recommendable for white or for black, like the Queen Fianchetto Debut (also known as Larsen, 1 P2HQ-3HQ). Other first moves are controversial, like the Orangutang (1 P2HQ-4HQ) or the Anderssen (1 P2CQ-3CQ), while still others are perhaps bad moves (or at least, a good continuation has not yet been found for them), such as beginning by moving a knight to one side of the board. This is done in the Paris or Tartakower Debut (1 H1HK-3CK), the Durkin Debut (1 H1HQ-3CQ), the Hippopotamus Defence (2 h1hk-3ck, called Tuebingen Defence if played against 1 P2HQ-4HQ, which is the Hunt, Polish, Sokolsky or Orangutang Debut), and in the Lemming Defence (2 h1hq-3cq).

Other first and second moves, finally, are simply ridiculous manners of starting a game, such as advancing a pawn one square, and at the next move of the same player advancing the same pawn another square, losing tempo. Let us look at some of those peculiar moves, whether supposedly 'good' or supposedly 'bad', and give the reader the personal choice of deciding which of them to try and which ones to avoid in a serious match. Experimenting with the unusual is much more exciting than just repeating what has been done millions of times, but the experiment must be performed judiciously.

In the list of opening debuts further below, there is statistical information about the frequency with which each first move is played by white. The values have been calculated from millions of games that for years have been played between masters, and the scores were saved. They serve now for analysis and reference, as an excellent aid for any player to improve in the game of chess. The serious player would do well in avoiding popular first moves, which have been studied to satiety and are known too well, and in playing those other moves that are unusual. Some of them are truly exotic. Playing them carefully is the best way of experimenting them, and of developing a personal style.

In order to make clear the rules or conventions used in international chess, or the particular conventions used in this document, it is necessary to begin by explaining some of those conventions:

-Rules for castling
-Tied conclusion of game (of equal score) or drawn game (undecided)
-Depleted battlefield

They are explained below in rich detail.


It has been observed that many amateur players do not know all the rules that allow or forbid the operation of castling, as they do not know other chess rules either, such as capture en passant, promotion of pawn, tied or drawn game by stale mate, by repetition of moves, or by other causes, rules of etiquette, and the like. It seems therefore a good commencement to remind the rules for castling.

For castling, the king must be touched first, or else castling can be done simultaneously moving king and castle with both hands. In the scripts given in this document, castling is indicated by a move of the king two squares to either side, to his own king side or else to his queen side.

Castling is not temporarily possible for the army affected by any of the following three conditions, although it might be possible afterwards:

    1: King in check.

    2: Squares between king and castle occupied by friends or by enemies.

    3: Squares through which or onto which the king must move being attacked by the enemy (this rule affects only the king, not the castle).

Castling is not definitely possible for the army affected, and for the rest of the game, if either of the following two conditions have already occurred:

    4: King having moved at some time in the game, even if having later returned to its original place.

    5: Castle having moved at some time in the game, even if having later returned to its original place. Castling might still be possible with the other castle, if not having moved yet and if accomplishing all the other rules for the operation of castling.

Castling is optional (except if being the only legal move available), but if done, then castling must be done with one of the original castles. Castling is not possible with a pawn promoted to castle (a pawn is NEVER promoted to king).


A tied or drawn conclusion may be caused by any of the following five reasons:

    1: Agreement or interruption. An agreement between the players to consider the game as tied (of equal score, finished without neither victory nor defeat for either side), or drawn (undecided), or an interrupted or sojourned game that never have been continued to another conclusion.

    2: Stale mate. There is no legal move available to any chess men of the army with the right to move, but their king is not in check. A stale mate is independent of how many forces still exist in one or both armies. A player still having the right of castling with either castle, or also the right of capture en passant, still has some legal move available, and he is forced to execute one of those moves. He cannot claim stale mate.

    3: Repetition of identical situation. Identical distribution of forces on the battlefield for the third time, not necessarily consecutive. For verification of this repetition, especially if not being consecutive, it is necessary to be able to repeat the moves of that game and to note when the first, second, and third identical situations have occurred.

    4: Moves that cannot reach a goal. Fifty moves made by each army (fifty by white and fifty by black, or viceversa), without capturing, without moving pawn, and without giving check mate. This rule may be modified before commencing the game, allowing more moves for certain situations that approach conclusion of the game, and which are known to offer a clear and potentially victorious advantage to one of the armies. Such situations will be explained in the section on conclusion of games.

    5: Depleted battlefield. There are no pawns, and the officers that are present in either army lack the necessary force to give check mate. Only kings remain in both armies, or kings and any of the following officers:

        -One knight
        -One bishop
        -Two knights
        -Two bishops who move onto squares of the same colour (at least one of them had obviously been a pawn, promoted to bishop).

    There is still the possibility of check mate at a later time if any pawns remain on the battlefield, because they may be promoted, or because a check mate by zugzwang is theoretically possible (see later 'Conclusion of game', 'Officers against pawns', for the case of a single knight who can give check mate to a king that still has at least one pawn with him), therefore the game cannot be tied or drawn by this rule of depleted battlefield in the presence of any pawns. There must be no pawns in any of the two armies. This holds true even in the case of all pawns being temporarily blocked (though in this case it may be applied the rule given above of fifty moves, or its modification before commencing the game).

    Because a check mate by zugzwang or by error of one player is still possible when both sides have no pawns, but both still have at least one officer, current doctrine rules that a game can only be tied or drawn by the rule of depleted battlefield when one side has only a solitary king, and the opposite side has insufficient material for giving check mate. It means that if, for example, one side have only his king and the other side his king and one knight, or his king and one bishop, then it is possible to claim a tied or drawn game by the rule of depleted battlefield.

    However, if one side have for example his king and one knight (or bishop), and the other side his king and one bishop (or knight), then it is NOT possible to claim a tied or drawn game by this rule, because a situation of check mate may potentially arise by zugzwang or by error of one of the players. In such cases it is in practice common to reach a tied or drawn game by agreement between the players (the so-called 'trivial draw'), but if there be no agreement, then the rule of fifty moves explained above is applied.


The insufficient material for giving check mate is listed in the following paragraphs.

    Only one knight, or only one bishop, cannot give check mate.

    Two knights can only give check mate to a "collaborating" enemy king. Therefore the check mate of the two knights is unenforceable, and thus liable to a tied or drawn conclusion by depleted battlefield. However, because there is a slight chance of check mate to a king defending incorrectly (moving to the wrong square, and thus check mated by the other king and his two knights), a player insisting in playing his king and two knights must be allowed to do so. Very likely the tied or drawn game will be raught by the rule of fifty moves, explained above.

    Two bishops moving onto squares of the same colour cannot give check mate. Necessarily one of those bishops, or perhaps both, had been pawns who became promoted to bishop.

    Two bishops moving onto squares of different colour, or else one bishop and one knight, could in theory, with the help of their own king, give check mate to the enemy king, although they might be unable to do so inside the limit of moves. Especially, the check mate of bishop and knight is a difficult one.

    One castle, or two castles, or one queen, can give check mate inside a shorter number of moves, possibly with the help of their own king. More than two knights, more than two bishops, more than two castles, or more than one queen, may exist in either army or in both, due to promotion of pawns.

    When they reach their last line of advance, pawns MUST be promoted to any one of knight, bishop, castle or queen of their own army, at the choice of their player. Pawns cannot be promoted to king, they cannot continue being pawns in the last line of their advance, they cannot simply disappear, and they cannot be converted into a chess man of the opposing army. A promoted pawn is fully invested of his new powers since the instant of promotion, this is, immediately after moving to the last line of his advance. Pawns can only move ahead, in diagonal when capturing (including capture en passant) or in orthogonal when not capturing. They can never move or capture to either side orthogonally, they can never move or capture back in any manner (orthogonally or diagonally), and the initial position of the board cannot be altered or inverted (each player must start the game by having a white square at his right, and this initial position must stay throughout the game).

    A chess man may be captured, but no chess man can move outside the board, whether returning to it or not, and as said for a promoting pawn, no chess man can simply disappear. Finally, a move is only valid when it is completed (castling is considered one move). An incomplete move has no effect. All the rules above may seem exaggerated in their detail, but experience has shown that it is necessary to specify them. Otherwise there might be players who, honestly or not so honestly, would try to bend the rules to their advantage. As example, this is a humouristic 'problem' by Tolosa y Carreras, where he announces "White gives check mate in less than one move" (the term 'move' being understood as of white only, not as of white and of black).

View from white at the left of the observer, from black at the right.

tolosa_problem.png tolosa_problem.png Problem by Tolosa y Carreras: "White gives check mate in less than one move".

It is impossible in one COMPLETE move. If giving check with any of the white chess men, then the black king is not check mated, he can move or eventually capture. If moving the white king, then one or another of the white chess men is obstructed in his attack, and the black king is not check mated either, he still can move.

Mister Tolosa y Carreras 'proposes' to lift the white king from the square where he is, and to keep him lifted, WITHOUT COMPLETING THE MOVE.

By this 'clever' trick, the black king is under discovered check by the white bishop along the central diagonal. There is no escape. DISCOVERED CHECK MATE !!!

It is not known if Mister Tolosa y Carreras have remained to this day with his hand holding the white king, after more than a hundred years...

Ordered list of over a hundred unusual first moves

Symbols in scripts of games

The notation used in this document is Full Descriptive. Descriptive notation has been the Tradition for centuries in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, and some other languages. In Full Descriptive notation, the origin and the destination are both indicated for the move of each chess man. Move numbers are separate for white and for black. Odd numbers at left always indicate a white move, even numbers always indicate a black move. The first move by white is given as "1", and the following white moves are given as 3, 5, 7, 9... et cetera. The exception is in set situations (such as problems or analysis) in which the first move belongs to black, or in games begun by black (this was quite acceptable until the XIX century, and occasionally done today for unofficial games). The first move by black is then given as "0", and the following black moves are given as 2, 4, 6, 8... et cetera.

Each white chess man is named with a letter in upper case (in capital), each black chess man with a letter in lower case. The lines (or ranks) of advance are numbered from the point of view of each player, thus what is the first line as seen by one player, happens to be the eighth line as seen by the opposite player. For helping with that difference in line numbering, although somewhat redundantly, the names of the columns (files) are also in upper case when seen from the perspective of white, and in lower case when seen from the perspective of black. Example:

As first move, the white pawn in the column of the king advances two squares:
1 P2K-4K King or Royal Debut

As second move, the black pawn in the column of the bishop at the side of the queen advances two squares:
2 p2bq-4bq Sicilian Defence

Names of columns are referred to the location of chess men at the start of the game. Such names are fixed throughout all the game, independently of the move of the chess men who give their names to the columns.

The operation of castling is indicated as a lateral move of two squares made by the king, then the castle immediately leaps over his king, showing (sc) or (lc) between parentheses, meaning the short castling (to the side of the king) or the long castling (to the side of the queen). Castling is counted as only one move.

The capture of a pawn en passant by another pawn is given as the destination whither the capturing pawn goes, this is, as if the captured pawn would have advanced only one square instead of two squares, showing (ep) between parentheses.

For easier reading, the "x" as a symbol of capture is always in lower case and surrounded by spaces. For example, in the third move the white pawn at king's fourth rank of white, takes the black pawn (offered as a gambit) at queen's fifth rank of white, written as:
3 P4K x p5Q

The complete list of symbols is:

K White king.
Q White queen.
B White bishop.
H White knight.
C White castle, white rook.
P White pawn.
=Q Promotion of pawn to white queen.
=B Promotion of pawn to white bishop.
=H Promotion of pawn to white knight.
=C Promotion of pawn to white castle.
- Move.
! Move considered good
(sc) Short castling (to the side of the king).
x Capture.
+ Direct check to the opposing king.
++ Double check (a direct check plus a discovered check).
X Direct check mate to the opposing king.
XX Double check mate (a direct check plus a discovered check).
= Tied conclusion of game (of equal score) or drawn game (undecided).
k Black king.
q Black queen.
b Black bishop.
h Black knight.
c Black castle, black rook.
p Black pawn.
=q Promotion of pawn to black queen.
=b Promotion of pawn to black bishop.
=h Promotion of pawn to black knight.
=c Promotion of pawn to black castle.
~ Move ad libitum.
? Move considered dubious
(lc) Long castling (to the side of the queen).
x (ep) Capture of pawn en passant, by another pawn.
-+ Discovered check (by a chess man who has not moved).
-X Discovered check mate (by a chess man who has not moved).
... Continuation of prior moves along a different variation, line, branch. Every three dots and space representing one prior move in that game.

View from white at the left of the observer, from black at the right.

1~,_2_h1hq-3cq_lemming_defence.png 1~,_2_h1hq-3cq_lemming_defence.png 1~, 2 h1hq-3cq Lemming Defence.

1~,_2_h1hq-3bq_nimzowitsch_or_fischer_defence.png 1~,_2_h1hq-3bq_nimzowitsch_or_fischer_defence.png 1~, 2 h1hq-3bq Nimzowitsch or Fischer Defence. Played by Aaron Nimzowitsch (Jew with Baltic passport who resided in Denmark) in the 1930's, and by Robert Fischer of Illinois (later a resident of Iceland) in the 1970's. Nimzowitsch was one of the chess "Hyper Moderns" in the 1930's, together with Savielly Tartakower, Richard Reti and others. Fischer was a World Champion.

1~,_2_h1hk-3bk_alekhine_defence.png 1~,_2_h1hk-3bk_alekhine_defence.png 1~, 2 h1hk-3bk Alekhine Defence. Played by Alexandr Alekhine of Russia (later of France) in the 1930's. Alekhine was a World Champion, the only one who died with the Title in his possession.

1~,_2_h1hk-3ck_hippopotamus_defence.png 1~,_2_h1hk-3ck_hippopotamus_defence.png 1~, 2 h1hk-3ck Hippopotamus Defence (called Tuebingen Defence if played against 1 P2HQ-4HQ, which is the Hunt, Orangutang, Polish or Sokolsky Debut, listed later).

Some possible continuations:

... ... 3~, 4 p2hk-3hk, 5~, 6 p2bk-3bk Hippopotamus Defence Continuation.

1~,_2_p2cq-3cq_saint_george,_baker,_birmingham_or_miles_defence,_country_move.png 1~,_2_p2cq-3cq_saint_george,_baker,_birmingham_or_miles_defence,_country_move.png 1~, 2 p2cq-3cq Saint George, Baker, Birmingham or Miles Defence, Country Move. Formerly known as Saint George or Baker Defence, it was played in Birmingham 1980 by Anthony Miles of England, thence also called Birmingham or Miles Defence.

Some possible continuations:

... ... 3~, 4 p2cq-4cq Incorrect Defence.

... ... 3 H1HQ-3BQ, 4 p2hq-4hq, 5~, 6 b1bq-2hq

... ... 3 H1HK-3BK, 4 p2hq-4hq, 5~, 6 b1bq-2hq

... ... ... ... 5 P2CQ-4CQ, 6 b1bq-2hq

... ... ... ... 5 P2BQ-4BQ, 6 b1bq-2hq if white pawn protected, or else
... ... ... ... 5 P2BQ-4BQ, 6 p4hq x P5bq if white pawn unprotected.

... ... ... ... ... 6 p2k-3k

1~,_2_p2cq-4cq_corn_stalk_defence,_country_move.png 1~,_2_p2cq-4cq_corn_stalk_defence,_country_move.png 1~, 2 p2cq-4cq Corn Stalk Defence, Country Move.

1~,_2_p2hq-3hq_queen_fianchetto,_owen_or_english_defence.png 1~,_2_p2hq-3hq_queen_fianchetto,_owen_or_english_defence.png 1~, 2 p2hq-3hq Queen Fianchetto, Owen or English Defence. Played by Anthony Miles with black against Anatoly Karpov with white in Skara 1980, but known before.

Some possible continuations:

... ... 3~, 4 b1bq-3cq Guatemala Defence.

1~,_2_p2hq-4hq_polish_defence.png 1~,_2_p2hq-4hq_polish_defence.png 1~, 2 p2hq-4hq Polish Defence.

Some possible continuations:

... ... 3 P2K-3K, 4 b1bq-2hq, 5 H1HK-3BK, 6 p2cq-3cq

1~,_2_p2bq-3bq_caro-kann_defence.png 1~,_2_p2bq-3bq_caro-kann_defence.png 1~, 2 p2bq-3bq Caro-Kann Defence.

1~,_2_p2bq-4bq_o'kelly_defence.png 1~,_2_p2bq-4bq_o'kelly_defence.png 1~, 2 p2bq-4bq O'Kelly Defence (called Sicilian Defence if played against 1 P2K-4K, which is the King or Royal Debut, listed later. Called Benoni Gambit if played against 1 P2Q-4Q, which is the Queen Debut, listed later).

1~,_2_p2q-3q_indian_defence.png 1~,_2_p2q-3q_indian_defence.png 1~, 2 p2q-3q Indian Defence.

1~,_2_p2q-4q_queen_defence.png 1~,_2_p2q-4q_queen_defence.png 1~, 2 p2q-4q Queen Defence.

1~,_2_p2k-3k_french_defence.png 1~,_2_p2k-3k_french_defence.png 1~, 2 p2k-3k French Defence.

1~,_2_p2k-4k_king_or_royal_defence.png 1~,_2_p2k-4k_king_or_royal_defence.png 1~, 2 p2k-4k King or Royal Defence (called From Gambit if played against 1 P2BK-4BK, which is the Bird, Stein or Dutch Debut, listed later).

1~,_2_p2bk-3bk_barnes_defence.png 1~,_2_p2bk-3bk_barnes_defence.png 1~, 2 p2bk-3bk Barnes Defence.

Some possible continuations:

... ... 3~, 4 k1k-2bk Fried Fox Defence.

1~,_2_p2bk-4bk_fred,_stein_or_dutch_defence.png 1~,_2_p2bk-4bk_fred,_stein_or_dutch_defence.png 1~, 2 p2bk-4bk Fred, Stein or Dutch Defence. Played by Stein of Netherland in the 1920's.

1~,_2_p2hk-3hk_king_fianchetto_defence.png 1~,_2_p2hk-3hk_king_fianchetto_defence.png 1~, 2 p2hk-3hk King Fianchetto Defence.

1~,_2_p2hk-4hk_borg_defence.png 1~,_2_p2hk-4hk_borg_defence.png 1~, 2 p2hk-4hk Borg Defence. The name "Borg" is not here related to the Star Trek scientific fiction series of Gene Roddenberry, it is simply the name "Grob" read backwards (see later 1 P2HK-4HK).

1~,_2_p2ck-3ck_carr_defence,_country_move.png 1~,_2_p2ck-3ck_carr_defence,_country_move.png 1~, 2 p2ck-3ck Carr Defence, Country Move.

1~,_2_p2ck-4ck_mc_kenzie's_opponent_defence,_country_move.png 1~,_2_p2ck-4ck_mc_kenzie's_opponent_defence,_country_move.png 1~, 2 p2ck-4ck Mc Kenzie's Opponent Defence, Country Move (called Lasker Defence if played against 1 P2HK-3HK, which is the King Fianchetto Debut, listed later). Played by an amateur opposing Captain Mc Kenzie in the 1880's.

1_P2CQ-4CQ_meadow_hay_or_ware_debut,_country_move.png 1_P2CQ-4CQ_meadow_hay_or_ware_debut,_country_move.png 1 P2CQ-4CQ Meadow Hay or Ware Debut, Country Move. With this first move, Preston Ware of Massachusetts (1820-1890) defeated Captain Mc Kenzie in 1888.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 10 matches. It is the eighteenth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2~, 3 P2CK-4CK Crab Debut.

... 2 p2bq-4bq

1_P2CQ-3CQ_anderssen_debut,_country_move.png 1_P2CQ-3CQ_anderssen_debut,_country_move.png 1 P2CQ-3CQ Anderssen Debut, Country Move. With this first move, Adolf Anderssen of Prussia was defeated by Paul Morphy of Louisiana in Europe in 1858. Anderssen and Morphy were consecutive World Champions.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 181 matches. It is the twelfth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

1_P2HQ-4HQ_hunt,_orangutang,_polish_or_sokolsky_debut.png 1_P2HQ-4HQ_hunt,_orangutang,_polish_or_sokolsky_debut.png 1 P2HQ-4HQ Hunt, Orangutang, Polish or Sokolsky Debut. This move was formerly known as Hunt Debut. Savielly Tartakower played it in New York in 1924. He informed that the zoo's female orangutang had advised him to begin the game in that fashion. Tartakower was one of the chess "Hyper Moderns" in the 1930's, together with Aaron Nimzowitsch, Richard Reti and others. Tartakower played for Poland (in spite of being unable to speak Polish), thus the move became known as Orangutang or Polish Debut. It was analysed in depth by Polish Master Sokolsky, by whose name it is also known.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 657 matches. It is the ninth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 h1hq-3cq, 3 P4HQ-5HQ

... 2 h1hq-3bq, 3 P4HQ-5HQ, 4 h3bq-5q, 5 P2K-3K, 6 h5q-4bk, 7 P2HK-4HK, 8 h4bk-5ck, 9 H1HK-3BK

... 2 h1hk-3bk, 3 B1BQ-2HQ, 4 p2hk-3hk, 5 P2HK-4HK, 6 b1bk-2hk, 7 B1BK-2HK

... 2 h1hk-3ck Tuebingen Defence (Hippopotamus Defence if not against 1 P2HQ-4HQ).

... 2 h1hk-3ck, 3 B1BQ-2HQ

... 2 p2cq-3cq

... 2 p2cq-4cq, 3 P4HQ x p5CQ

... 2 p2cq-4cq, 3 P4HQ-5HQ, 4 p2bq-3bq, 5 P2CQ-4CQ, 6 p3bq x P4hq, 7 P4CQ x p5HQ

... 2 p2hq-3hq

... 2 p2hq-4hq, 3 P2K-4K, 4 p2cq-3cq, 5 P2Q-3Q, 6 p2k-3k

... ... 3 B1BQ-2HQ, 4 b1bq-2hq, 5 H1HQ-3BQ, 6 p2cq-3cq, 7 H1HK-3BK, 8 p2k-3k

... 2 p2bq-3bq

... 2 p2bq-4bq, 3 P4HQ x p5BQ

... 2 p2q-3q

... 2 p2q-4q

... 2 p2k-3k, 3 P2CQ-3CQ

... 2 p2k-4k, 3 P2CQ-3CQ

... 2 p2k-4k, 3 B1BQ-2HQ, 4 b1bk x P5hq, 5 B2HQ x p5K

... 2 p2bk-3bk

... 2 p2bk-4bk

... 2 p2hk-3hk

... 2 p2hk-4hk

... 2 p2ck-3ck

... 2 p2ck-4ck

1_P2HQ-3HQ_queen_fianchetto_or_larsen_debut.png 1_P2HQ-3HQ_queen_fianchetto_or_larsen_debut.png 1 P2HQ-3HQ Queen Fianchetto or Larsen Debut. Played by Bent Larsen of Denmark in the 1960's, but known before him.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 3136 matches. It is the sixth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

1_P2BQ-4BQ_english_debut.png 1_P2BQ-4BQ_english_debut.png 1 P2BQ-4BQ English Debut. With this first move, Howard Staunton of England defeated Saint Amant of France in the 1840's. Staunton organised the first International Chess Tournament, held in London 1851.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 71890 matches. It is the fourth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2~, 3 P2HQ-4HQ English Orangutang Debut.

... 2 p2bq-4bq, 3 H1HQ-3BQ, 4 h1hq-3bq, 5 H1HK-3BK, 6 p2k-4k, 7 P2HK-3HK, 8 h1hk-3bk, 9 B1BK-2HK, 10 p2q-3q

... ... ... 4 p2cq-3cq, 5 P2K-3K, 6 p2q-3q, 7 P2Q-4Q, 8 p2hq-3hq, 9 H1HK-3BK, 10 b1bq-2hq  

1_P2BQ-3BQ_zaragoza_debut.png 1_P2BQ-3BQ_zaragoza_debut.png 1 P2BQ-3BQ Zaragoza Debut.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 110 matches. It is the thirteenth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

1_P2Q-4Q_queen_debut.png 1_P2Q-4Q_queen_debut.png 1 P2Q-4Q Queen Debut.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 360534 matches. It is the second most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 h1hq-3bq, 3 P2BQ-4BQ, 4 p2k-4k, 5 P4Q x p5K, 6 h3bq x P4k, 7 H1HQ-3BQ, 8 h4k x P5bq Kevitz, Lundin or Mikenas Gambit.

... 2 p2hq-4hq, 3 P2K-4K, 4 b1bq-2hq, 5 H1HQ-2Q, 6 p2cq-3cq

... ... ... 4 p4hq-5hq, 5 H1HK-3BK, 6 b1bq-2hq

... ... 3 H1HQ-3BQ, 4 p4hq-5hq, 5 H3BQ-5Q, 6 p2k-3k Model game in section below

... ... 3 H1HK-3BK, 4 b1bq-2hq, 5 P2K-3K, 6 p4hq-5hq

... 2 p2q-3q Rat Defence.

... ... 3 P2BQ-4BQ, 4 p2bq-3bq Lowe Defence.

... 2 p2q-4q, 3 H1HQ-3BQ Veresov Debut.

... ... ... 4 b1bq-5hk Anti Veresov Defence.

... ... 3 P2K-4K Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

... ... 3 P2BK-4BK Mason Debut.

... 2 p2k-4k Englund Gambit.

... 2 h1hk-3bk, 3 P2BQ-4BQ, 4 p2k-4k Budapest Gambit.

1_P2Q-3Q_indian,_hanham_or_mieses_debut.png 1_P2Q-3Q_indian,_hanham_or_mieses_debut.png 1 P2Q-3Q Indian, Hanham or Mieses Debut.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 331 matches. It is the tenth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2~, 3 H1HQ-2Q Valencia Debut.

... 2 p2hq-4hq

... 2 p2bq-4bq, 3 H1HQ-3BQ, 4 h1hq-3bq, 5 P2HK-3HK Venezuelan Debut.

1_P2K-4K_king_or_royal_debut.png 1_P2K-4K_king_or_royal_debut.png 1 P2K-4K King or Royal Debut.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 447648 matches. It is the first most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2~, 3 P2CQ-3CQ Mengarini Debut.

... 2 p2cq-3cq Saint George, Baker, Birmingham or Miles Defence, Country Move.

... ... 3 P2Q-4Q, 4 p2hq-4hq, 5 H1HK-3BK, 6 b1bq-2hq, 7 B1BK-3Q, 8 h1hk-3bk, 9 Q1Q-2K, 10 p2k-3k, 11 P2CQ-4CQ, 12 p2bq-4bq, 13 P4Q x p5BQ, 14 b1bk x P4bq, 15 H1HQ-2Q, 16 p4hq-5hq. With those first moves, Anatoly Karpov of Russia playing white, was defeated by Anthony Miles of England (1955-) playing black, in Skara 1980.

... 2 p2bq-4bq Sicilian Defence. It appears in a Sicilian manuscript written by Sarratt, but it is not known whether he or another player invented it.

... ... 3 P2BQ-3BQ, 4 p2cq-3cq, 5 P2Q-4Q, 6 p2k-3k, 7 Q1Q-4CQ, 8 h1hq-3bq, 9 H1HK-3BK, 10 p2hq-3hq

... ... 3 H1HQ-3BQ, 4 p2cq-3cq, 5 B1BK-4BQ, 6 p2k-3k, 7 P2Q-3Q, 8 p2hq-4hq, 9 B4BQ-3HQ, 10 q1q-3hq, 11 H1HK-3BK, 12 h1hq-3bq, 13 B1BQ-3K, 14 p2ck-3ck

... ... 3 H1HK-3BK, 4 h1hq-3bq, 5 P2Q-4Q, 6 p4bq x P5q, 7 H3BK x p4Q, 8 q1q-2bq, 9 B1BK-4BQ, 10 p2k-3k

... ... ... 4 p2cq-3cq, 5 P2Q-3Q, 6 p2hq-4hq, 7 B1BQ-3Q, 8 p2k-3k, 9 H1HQ-3BQ, 10 b1bq-2hq

... ... ... ... 5 H1HQ-3BQ, 6 p2k-3k, 7 Q1Q-2Q, 8 h1hk-2k, 9 P2Q-4Q, 10 p4bq x P5q, 11 H3BK x p4Q

... ... ... ... 5 B1BK-4BQ, 6 p2hq-4hq, 7 B4BQ-5Q, 8 c1cq-2q, 9 P2Q-4Q ? 10 p2k-3k Lost white king's bishop

... ... ... ... ... 6 p2k-3k, 7 P2Q-4Q, 8 p2hq-4hq, 9 B4BQ-3Q, 10 p4bq-5bq, 11 B3Q-2K, 12 b1bq-2hq, 13 H1HQ-3BQ, 14 q1q-2bq, 15 P4K-5K, 16 p2q-4q, 17 P5K x p6Q (ep), 18 b1bk x P3q

... ... ... ... 5 B1BK-3Q, 6 p2hq-4hq, 7 K1K-1HK (c), 8 b1bq-2hq, 9 H1HQ-3BQ, 10 h1hq-3bq

... ... 3 P2Q-3Q Leonardis Debut.

... ... 3 P2BK-3BK King Head Debut.

... ... 3 P2HK-3HK, 4 p2bk-4bk Schlenker Gambit.

... ... 3 Q1Q-5CK Patzer Debut.

... ... 3 Q1Q-3BK Napoleon Debut.

... ... 3 H1HK-3BK, 4 h1hq-3bq, 5 H3BK x p5K, 6 h3bq x H4k, 7 P2Q-4Q Irish or Chicago Gambit Accepted.

... ... ... ... 5 P2BQ-4BQ Dresden Debut.

... ... ... ... 5 P2HK-3HK Konstantinopolsky Debut.

... ... ... ... 5 H1HQ-3BQ, 6 b1bk-5hq, 7 H3BQ-5Q, 8 h1hk-3bk Schlechter Defence.

... ... ... ... ... 6 p2bk-4bk Gothic or Winawer Gambit.

... ... ... ... ... 6 p2hk-3hk Steinitz Defence.

... ... ... ... 5 B1BK-4BQ, 6 p2bk-4bk Rousseau Gambit.

... ... ... ... ... 6 h3bq-5q Blackburne Gambit.

... ... ... 4 q1q-2k Gunderam Defence.

... ... ... 4 q1q-3bk Greco Defence.

... ... ... 4 p2q-4q Elephant or Queen Pawn Gambit.

... ... ... 4 p2bk-3bk Damiano Defence.

... ... ... 4 p2bk-4bk Latvian Gambit.

... ... 3 H1HK-2K Alapin Debut.

1_P2K-3K_van't_kruyz_debut.png 1_P2K-3K_van't_kruyz_debut.png 1 P2K-3K Van't Kruyz Debut.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 327 matches. It is the eleventh most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2bq-4bq

1_P2BK-4BK_bird,_stein_or_dutch_debut.png 1_P2BK-4BK_bird,_stein_or_dutch_debut.png 1 P2BK-4BK Bird, Stein or Dutch Debut.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 2810 matches. It is the seventh most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

1_P2BK-3BK_barnes_or_gedult_debut.png 1_P2BK-3BK_barnes_or_gedult_debut.png 1 P2BK-3BK Barnes or Gedult Debut.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 3 matches. It is the twentieth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

1_P2HK-4HK_grob_debut.png 1_P2HK-4HK_grob_debut.png 1 P2HK-4HK Grob Debut. Often played by Swiss Master Henri Grob.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 88 matches. It is the fourteenth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

1_P2HK-3HK_king_fianchetto_debut.png 1_P2HK-3HK_king_fianchetto_debut.png 1 P2HK-3HK King Fianchetto Debut.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 9099 matches. It is the fifth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

... 2 p2ck-4ck Lasker Defence.

1_P2CK-4CK_despres_or_hector_debut,_country_move.png 1_P2CK-4CK_despres_or_hector_debut,_country_move.png 1 P2CK-4CK Despres or Hector Debut, Country Move.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 15 matches. It is the sixteenth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

1_P2CK-3CK_clemenz_debut,_country_move.png 1_P2CK-3CK_clemenz_debut,_country_move.png 1 P2CK-3CK Clemenz Debut, Country Move.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 68 matches. It is the fifteenth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

1_H1HQ-3CQ_durkin_debut.png 1_H1HQ-3CQ_durkin_debut.png 1 H1HQ-3CQ Durkin Debut.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 3 matches. It is the nineteenth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

1_H1HQ-3BQ_heinrichsen_or_ekebjaerg_debut.png 1_H1HQ-3BQ_heinrichsen_or_ekebjaerg_debut.png 1 H1HQ-3BQ Heinrichsen or Ekebjärg Debut.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 1263 matches. It is the eighth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2~, 3 P2CQ-3CQ Battambang Debut.

... 2 p2hq-4hq

... 2 p2bq-4bq, 3 P2Q-4Q, 4 p4bq x P5q, 5 Q1Q x p4Q, 6 h1hq-3bq, 7 Q4Q-4CK Novosibirsk Debut.

1_H1HK-3BK_zukertort_or_reti_debut.png 1_H1HK-3BK_zukertort_or_reti_debut.png 1 H1HK-3BK Zukertort or Reti Debut. Played by Zukertort in the 1880's and by Richard Reti in the 1930's. Reti was one of the chess "Hyper Moderns" in the 1930's, together with Aaron Nimzowitsch, Savielly Tartakower and others. Zukertort was a World Champion, for some time together with Wilhelm Steinitz.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 101817 matches. It is the third most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

... 2 p2bk-4bk, 3 P2K-4K Pirc or Lisitsin Gambit.

1_H1HK-3CK_paris_or_tartakower_debut.png 1_H1HK-3CK_paris_or_tartakower_debut.png 1 H1HK-3CK Paris or Tartakower Debut. Played by Savielly Tartakower in the 1920's.

Of every million recorded matches between Chess Masters, this move has been played in 11 matches. It is the seventeenth most common opening of the game made by white.

Some possible continuations:

... 2 p2hq-4hq

The frequency with which white debuts tend to appear in matches between Chess Masters is given below. This is the number of matches in which the opening has been played, for every million matches:

1 P2K-4K King or Royal Debut: played in 447647 matches
1 P2Q-4Q Queen Debut: played in 360534 matches
1 H1HK-3BK Zukertort or Reti Debut: played in 101817 matches
1 P2BQ-4BQ English Debut: played in 71890 matches
1 P2HK-3HK King Fianchetto Debut: played in 9099 matches
1 P2HQ-3HQ Queen Fianchetto or Larsen Debut: played in 3136 matches
1 P2BK-4BK Bird, Stein or Dutch Debut: played in 2810 matches
1 H1HQ-3BQ Heinrichsen or Ekebjärg Debut: played in 1263 matches
1 P2HQ-4HQ Hunt, Orangutang, Polish or Sokolsky Debut: played in 657 matches
1 P2Q-3Q Indian, Hanham or Mieses Debut: played in 331 matches
1 P2K-3K Van't Kruyz Debut: played in 327 matches
1 P2CQ-3CQ Anderssen Debut, Country Move: played in 181 matches
1 P2BQ-3BQ Zaragoza Debut: played in 110 matches
1 P2HK-4HK Grob Debut: played in 88 matches
1 P2CK-3CK Clemenz Debut, Country Move: played in 68 matches
1 P2CK-4CK Despres or Hector Debut, Country Move: played in 15 matches
1 H1HK-3CK Paris or Tartakower Debut: played in 11 matches
1 P2CQ-4CQ Meadow Hay or Ware Debut, Country Move: played in 10 matches
1 H1HQ-3CQ Durkin Debut: played in 3 matches
1 P2BK-3BK Barnes or Gedult Debut: played in 3 matches

It must be noted that the list of white debuts given above only represents a world-wide average. In fact there are national or regional fashions also in chess. Most players from a certain country, or long-time residents of that country, tend to employ a repertoire of openings, defences or gambits that are typical of the country. Therefore, national or regional preferences tend to exist: moves that are commonly seen in one country may be rarely seen in another. The reader will do well in avoiding moves that are well known in a particular country, or by players from the country or who have lived in it.

It is enormously better to make moves that are almost unknown in the country or by its players, therefore the opponent is quickly taken 'out of the book', forced to think carefully from the start of the game. This of course assumes that the player making the unusual move knows himself valid continuations in various sequences of probable replies, or at least against the most common replies. As for the least common replies, with which the unusual player may be disagreeably surprised... it is part of the experimenting of possibilities in the never-ending complexity of chess. The price to pay for being different.

Conclusion of game

Some Arab authors studied the different ways by which a game of shatranj might be concluded, but few of those studies have survived. For European chess the first studies appear about 1450 or earlier. After that time, Saavedra and Carrera are two known chess authors who wrote about the subject, showing the concept of opposition of kings and some basic conclusions of game. Also Philidor made some studies after 1750, but real interest seems to have begun about 1840 with Rabrab, Kling, Lasa, Walker, Bilguer, Lolli, Karstedt and Stein, continuing later in the XIX century with Cochrane, Zytogorski, Centurini, Crosskill, Szen, Durand and Preti, in the early XX century with Guretzki, Vancura, Cornitz, Bent, Veitch, Berger, Horwitz and Halberstadt, in the 1930's with Grigoriev, Rabinovich, Troitzky and Reti, in the 1940's with Fine, Averbakh and Kopayev, and in the 1950's with Cheron, Keres, Botvinnik and Fontana.

More exhaustive analyses were done with the help of computers in the 1960's by Strohlein, Zagler and Hooper, and in the 1970's by Thompson, Futer and Arlazarov. In the 1980's computers made it possible to analyse in depth most conclusions of game, except for situations that are unlikely to arise in normal play, situations that always involve officers who could only exist by promotion of pawns in either army, such as an army having more than one queen, more than two bishops, two knights or two castles, or also an army having bishops who move onto squares of the same colour. In 1997 the computer Deep Blue, built by IBM, won against the then World Champion Gary Kasparov, playing under normal championship conditions, and until the time of writing this text in 2020, no human had managed to recuperate the lost title. Computers are now the unchallenged champions, but although they can analyse thousands of millions of moves in a concluding situation, it is also true that they lack a general strategic vision, which they must compensate by means of enormously long calculations of tactical manoeuvres. The best computers can calculate millions of moves per second, which may amount to billions of moves in a tournament with many games.

The word 'billion' is in this document used in its Classic British meaning, as a million millions (prefix Tera), not as a thousand millions (prefix Giga).

In the following list of game conclusions we omit to mention the kings, since they must by need be always present on the battlefield. So, a situation like "King, officers and pawns against king and officers" is resumed as "Officers and pawns against officers". The name "attacker" refers to the army with the forces stated first at the heading sentence, while "defender" is the other, whether white or black. For example, in "Officers against pawns" the attacker is the army with the officers, and the defender is the army having the pawns.

Pawns against nothing

For any of the two armies, having the move is a great advantage.

Two or more pawns can always win, whether being adjacent or separated.

-Attacker having one non-castle pawn will win if:

  -With pawn still not having crossed beyond the line of half board, the attacker's king could be placed ahead of his pawn in one of the three efficient squares. Defender will tie if, commanding the opposition of kings, could forbid the attacker's king the occupation of one of those three efficient squares.

  -With pawn already having crossed beyond the line of half board, the attacker's king could be placed ahead of his pawn. Defender will lose unless he could command the opposition of kings before that.

  -With pawn arrived to the seventh line (at one square from promotion), without checking the defender's king, the attacker's king could be placed beside or behind his pawn. Defender will tie if he could force the pawn, while arriving to the seventh line, to check the defender's king, and if this king could then immediately occupy the promotion square.

-Attacker having one castle pawn might win, but he has more chances of tie than with other pawns. Defender will probably tie if he could reach the castle pawn and threat it or block it, defender's king being then stale mated in the corner.

In a conclusion of game with the presence of pawns in either or both armies, but without officers or with officers impeded to act for some reason, it is very useful to know the concept of the "Troitzky Line", explained later in the section of "Officers against pawns", sub-section of "Two knights against pawn or two pawns". The proximity of each king to his own pawns or to the enemy pawns, is of fundamental importance for the final result of the battle.

Pawns against pawns

For any of the two armies, having the move is a great advantage. It might win an equal battle, or provoke a tie on an otherwise hopeless one. An example of this advantage is the situation of three adjacent pawns on the same line, against three adjacent pawns on the same line, but the two lines being separated by one empty line. For the pawns being more advanced, having the right to move is a decisive advantage. It might mean a victory if both kings be far away and no other pawns be near their unimpeded promotion. The tactics commences by moving the central pawn, sacrificing him, then move the pawn who have an enemy pawn in front of him, sacrificing one of these two survivors and passing the last survivor to unimpeded promotion. Also one of the enemy pawns might promote immediately after, if they had started from only one square farther.

The army with more pawns, either adjacent or separated, or also with pawns more advanced and with their king near at least one of them, has a good chance for victory. An army having its pawns doubled or trebled on the same column has a limitation, enemy pawns confronted on the same column are a limitation for both armies. Not such a limitation if they have been already passed, then one of the pawns occupied the same column by capturing, but being back against back with the enemy pawn, and not confronting each other in their way to promotion.

Officers against nothing

-Bishop, or two or more bishops moving on the same squares, or knight, or two knights: tied or drawn, but see "Knight against pawn or two pawns", and "Two knights against pawn or two pawns".

-Knight and bishop: against a good defender, check mate must be given by the bishop to a king cornered in one of the two corner squares that could be attacked by the bishop. First, attacker's king and bishop push the defender's king to any of the sides, then the knight closes those escapes that his bishop comrade could not control, therefore pushing the defender's king to any of the two appropriate corners. The bishop finally check mates, helped by his king and knight. The knight could also check mate the defender's king a square beside the corner with similar manoeuvres, helped by his king and bishop. Maximum of 71 moves with correct play.

-Two bishops moving on different squares: defender's king must be cornered by that of the attacker, with the help of attacker's bishops on adjacent diagonals. Maximum of 35 moves with correct play.

-Three knights: defender's king must be cornered by attacker's king and his knights. There is risk of stale mate. Maximum of 67 moves with correct play.

-Three bishops, one of them moving on different squares: defender's king must be pushed to a side by attacker's king and his bishops, one of them supported by his comrade who moves on the same squares. Maximum of 17 moves with correct play.

-Two knights and bishop: defender's king must be pushed to a side or cornered by attacker's king and his officers. Maximum 35 moves with correct play.

-Knight and two bishops moving on the same squares: defender's king must be cornered by attacker's king and his officers, one of the bishops supported by his comrade who moves on the same squares. Maximum of 67 moves with correct play.

-Knight and two bishops moving on different squares: defender's king must be pushed to a side or cornered by attacker's king and his officers. There is risk of stale mate. Maximum of 33 moves with correct play.

-Castle: attacker wins, maximum of 33 moves with correct play.

-Two castles: attacker wins, maximum of 9 moves with correct play.

-Queen: attacker wins, maximum of 17 moves with correct play.

-Two queens: attacker wins, maximum of 5 moves with correct play.

Officers against pawns

-Knight against pawn or two pawns: attacker might win by zugzwang against castle pawn or against adjacent flank pawns, cornering the defender's king by means of his own pawns.

-Two knights against pawn or two pawns: attacker might win as in the prior case, or else by blocking the pawns with his knights while cornering the defender's king, and then release the pawns and give check mate with the knights, but only if the pawns be not more advanced than the Troitzky Line, this is, on their castle four-knight six-bishop five-queen or king four. In some situations the attacker might win even if the defender's pawns be more advanced than the Troitzky Line, if their king be already in bad locations.

-Castle against pawn or two pawns: attacker might win if having his king near the enemy pawns, otherwise it might tie or draw, or might even lose. The pawns are stronger when being on adjacent columns, when near promotion, or also when supported by their own king.

-Queen against pawn or two pawns: as in the prior case, more easy for the attacker, but it might tie against a castle pawn or a bishop pawn on his seventh line, and it might lose against both pawns on their seventh line.

Chess men of Chinese xiangqi

xiangqi white gold general
xiangqi white military advisor
xiangqi white elephant
xiangqi white horse
xiangqi white castle
xiangqi white cannon
xiangqi white pawn
xiangqi black gold general
xiangqi black military advisor
xiangqi black elephant
xiangqi black horse
xiangqi black castle
xiangqi black cannon
xiangqi black pawn

The translations given here are somewhat free. In reality, the names of what has been given as 'white chess men' and 'black chess men' are different titles in Chinese language. The chess men themselves are exactly as portrayed here, circular wooden pieces with the titles inscribed on them, in red ink for one army, in black ink for the other. Because chess men of the same army look similar, except for the ink colour and the inscription, a player has to know what each inscription represents, though he may not be able to read the entire Chinese language.

Officers against officers

-Knight against knight or bishop: tied or drawn.

-Knight against castle: loses if attacker's king and his knight be far apart, might tie if they be near each other.

-Knight against queen: loses.

-Bishop against knight or bishop: tied or drawn.

-Bishop against castle: attacker might lose if moving his king to the corner controlled by his own bishop, but he has more chances of a tie than in the case of knight against castle.

-Bishop against queen: loses.

-Queen against castle: often wins in a maximum of 61 moves with correct play, but there are a few forced ties. There is risk of losing the queen if being behind her king.

-Queen against two castles: tied or drawn.

-Queen against two castles and knight: loses.

-Queen against two castles and bishop: loses.

-Two knights against knight, bishop or castle: tied or drawn.

-Two knights against queen: often loses in a maximum of 125 moves with correct play, but there is one forced tie.

-Knight and bishop against knight, bishop or castle: tied or drawn.

-Knight and bishop against queen: often loses, but there are two forced ties.

-Knight and castle against knight or bishop: wins.

-Knight and castle against castle: often tied or drawn, but it might be a forced win if defender's king be near a corner.

-Knight and castle against queen: tied or drawn.

-Knight and queen against queen: wins in a maximum of 69 moves with correct play.

-Two bishops moving on the same squares against knight, bishop or castle: tied or drawn.

-Two bishops moving on the same squares against queen: loses.

-Two bishops moving on different squares against knight: wins in a maximum of 131 moves with correct play.

-Two bishops moving on different squares against bishop or castle: tied or drawn.

-Two bishops moving on different squares against queen: often loses in a maximum of 141 moves with correct play, but there is one forced tie.

-Bishop and castle against knight or bishop: wins.

-Bishop and castle against castle: wins in a maximum of 117 moves with correct play.

-Bishop and castle against queen: tied or drawn.

-Bishop and castle against two knights: often tied or drawn, but it might be a forced win.

-Bishop and queen against queen: wins in a maximum of 59 moves with correct play.

-Castle and queen against queen: wins in a maximum of 199 moves with correct play.

-Three knights against knight: often tied or drawn, but in some situations it might be a forced win, though perhaps in over 100 moves with correct play.

-Three knights against bishop or castle: tied or drawn.

-Three knights against queen: loses.

-Two knights and bishop against knight or bishop: often wins, but in some situations it might be a forced tie.

-Two knights and bishop against castle or queen: tied or drawn.

-Two knights and castle against knight or bishop: wins.

-Two knights and castle against castle: wins in a maximum of 65 moves with correct play.

-Two knights and castle against queen: tied or drawn.

-Knight and two bishops moving on the same squares against knight: wins.

-Knight and two bishops moving on the same squares against bishop or castle: tied or drawn.

-Knight and two bishops moving on the same squares against queen: loses.

-Knight and two bishops moving on different squares against knight, bishop or castle: often wins, but in some situations it might be a forced tie.

-Knight and two bishops moving on different squares against queen: tied or drawn.

-Knight, bishop and castle against knight, bishop or castle: wins.

-Knight, bishop and castle against queen: tied or drawn.

-Three bishops moving on the same squares against knight, bishop or castle: tied or drawn.

-Three bishops moving on the same squares against queen: loses.

-Two bishops moving on the same squares and another bishop on different squares against knight: wins.

-Two bishops moving on the same squares and another bishop on different squares against bishop: often wins, but in some situations it might be a forced tie.

-Two bishops moving on the same squares and another bishop on different squares against castle: tied or drawn.

-Two bishops moving on the same squares and another bishop on different squares against queen: often tied or drawn, but in some situations it might be a forced defeat.

-Two bishops moving on different squares and castle against knight, bishop or castle: wins.

-Two bishops moving on different squares and castle against queen: tied or drawn.

-Two bishops moving on different squares and two knights against knight, bishop, castle or queen: wins.

Chess men of Japanese shogi

shogi white king
shogi white gold general
shogi white military advisor
shogi white bishop
shogi white horse
shogi white castle
shogi white lance
shogi white pawn
shogi white crowned bishop
shogi white crowned castle
Crowned castle
(crowned rook)
shogi white gold silver
shogi white gold horse
Gold horse
(gold knight)
shogi white gold lance
shogi white gold pawn
shogi black king
shogi black gold general
shogi black military advisor
shogi black bishop
shogi black horse
shogi black castle
shogi black lance
shogi black pawn
shogi black crowned bishop
shogi black crowned castle
Crowned castle
(crowned rook)
shogi black gold silver
shogi black gold horse
Gold horse
(gold knight)
shogi black gold lance
shogi black gold pawn

The similarities between Japanese shogi and Chinese xiangqi suggest that the game entered Japan from China, though it may be that Japan and China received the game independently of each other, from one or more countries. It seems improbable that the game entered China from Japan, and even more improbable that it were invented in each of those countries, or in others, in complete isolation from one another. Among the similarities, shogi is played on a board 9 x 9 and xiangqi on a board 9 x 10 (not necessarily checked), several pieces have similar names and identical or almost identical moves or captures, and various other rules indicate a common origin for the two games. There are also some differences between shogi and xiangqi. Perhaps the most important is that in shogi a captured chess man is put at the orders of the army that has captured him. He is not a prisoner, he becomes a soldier of the opposite army, just by turning the pointed angle towards the opposite side. In shogi there are no different colours for each army, only for military rank, and the inscriptions are identical for both sides. Strange concepts for Europeans, but they may have some explanation in the military practices of feudal Japan. As in the case of xiangqi, the translations given for shogi are somewhat free.

Officers and pawns against nothing

-Knight and pawn: attacker normally wins. It might tie if having a castle pawn in the seventh line, attacker's king exactly ahead in the corner, defender's king condemning them to immobility because posted alternatively in the first or second line of his bishop on that side, and attacker's knight on square of the same colour as defender's king. If attacker's knight be forced to move, he will never force the defender's king out, but will only tie by repetition of checks. However, if defender's king be forced to move, then he will lose.

-Bishop and pawn: attacker normally wins. It might tie if having a castle pawn and a bishop who could not control the promotion square, in the case of the defender's king being able to occupy that square, because the attacker's bishop will never force him out.

Officers and pawns against pawns

This kind of game conclusion seems to have been the least analysed of all.

Officers and pawns against officers

-Knight and pawn against knight: attacker might win if having a flank pawn near promotion.

-Knight and pawn against bishop: as first case, but more difficult.

-Bishop and pawn against knight: as first case, but more easy.

-Bishop and pawn against bishop of same squares: as first case.

-Bishop and pawn against bishop of different squares: tied or drawn.

-Castle and pawn against bishop: attacker might win by not moving the pawn too soon, but a bishop pawn or a castle pawn might often tie.

-Castle and pawn against castle: as in the prior case, but more difficult. The attacker's king must often manoeuvre from behind his pawn.

-Castle and pawn against queen: attacker often loses, but might tie if his castle be behind his advanced non-flank pawn.

-Queen and pawn against queen: often tied or drawn, attacker might win with advanced bishop pawn, but in more than 100 moves (more than 50 moves by each army).

Officers and pawns against officers and pawns

-Bishop and pawns against bishop and pawns: pawns who be on squares whither the enemy bishop could not go, have a good chance for survival because they can only be attacked by the enemy king, but the battle might be tied or drawn if the two opposing bishops move on different squares. If on the contrary, the bishops could confront each other, then the army with the greater mobility, with more pawns, or also with more advanced pawns, has the advantage. In general it is better to avoid changes, though it is reasonable to accept a sacrifice of the bishop, if pawn promotion could be safely forced afterwards.

-Castle and pawn against bishop and pawn: attacker normallly wins, but it might tie against a flank pawn.

Sample of master game

It is not unusual to compensate a marked difference in chess expertise between two players by the stronger player offering to start the game without one or more chess men, or by conceding a number of opening moves to the weaker player, or by shorter clock time to the stronger. This is courtesy to the weaker, with the intention of levelling the game, and may be accepted or refused. It must not be offered in a boastful manner, which might be interpreted as degrading or offensive.

There is an anecdote of World Champion Alexandr Alekhine, an officer of the Russian Imperial Army who was forced to migrate to France after the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 Julian Calendar (November 1917 Gregorian Calendar). Mister Alekhine used to play at various cafés in Paris that concentrated many players of all levels. One day a man asked Mister Alekhine to play. The Champion accepted, and perhaps somewhat boastfully he added: "I offer advantage of a castle".

"But Monsieur Alekhine ! Why do You offer me a rook of advantage, if You do not know me ?"

"Precisely for that reason, Sir, because I do not know who You are".

Mister Alekhine assumed that the unknown man would not be a very strong player, otherwise he would have been already known in the chess circles of the French capital. Maybe so, but there are surprises. In those years, from the 1920's to the 1940's, completely unknown players appeared in the scene of European chess. One was Mister Sultan Khan, from the North-West of India (the part of India that later became Pakistan). In a short time Mister Khan defeated several of the strongest European players, including some masters, Mister Khan winning most games and losing only a few. Among his defeats was a game that he lost to Lady Vera Menchik, the strongest chess-playing woman at that time. After his duties in Europe had been accomplished (he was personal servant of an Indian potentate), Mister Khan returned to India, disappearing from the records of History as suddenly as he had appeared. In the 1960's some travellers reported that he was still alive, in the already independent Pakistan.

Blackburne against Harley

A non-rated game played between British Champion Blackburne and an amateur named Harley, in the late XIX century, illustrates that even the advantage of queen may not be sufficient for winning the game, when the different levels of expertise between players happen to be enormous. Mister Blackburne won, in spite of having started without his queen.

The game is given as a data set in Portable Game Format. It can be watched by opening the PGN from a suitable chess engine or board, such as GNU Chess or XBoard in a Linux operating system. For chess lovers who lack similar software, a possibility is to open the PGN from any text viewer and read the score, but it is necessary to know algebraic notation for doing this.


That impressive game is also offered below as an animation in GIF format, with a frame interval of approximately ten seconds, total running time about four hundred seconds, then re-starting the animation. The Graphic Interchange Format is patented by Compuserve, this animation has been created with GNU Image Manipulation Programme version 2.10 (a really SUPERIOR software for any serious work involving images).

In the descriptive notation given below, observe in move 27 (move 14 of white in algebraic notation) the kamikaze attack of the white castle, who captures a poor black pawn who was not bothering anyone. The black king did not see the danger, he brainlessly captured the white castle, and in a few more moves he lost the battle. There is no place for frivolity in chess. If You see an apparent 'blunder' of the opponent, STUDY THE SITUATION CAREFULLY !!!

White: Blackburne (starting without queen), black: Harley
White: Blackburne (starting without queen), black: Harley

1 P2HQ-3HQ Queen Fianchetto Debut. Since the 1960's also known as Larsen Debut, being a favourite of Danish Champion Bent Larsen.
2 p2k-4k King or Royal Defence. Moving king's pawn two steps at the start is, for black or for white, the most usual opening ad nauseam.
3 B1BQ-2HQ White bishop in one of the two fianchetti. Not common in the XIX century, Mister Blackburne being one of few players starting so.
4 b1bk-3q Perhaps not very recommendable, blocking his own queen's pawn after having started the game with the king's pawn.
5 H1HQ-3BQ Players who start by bishop in fianchetto tend to block the centre and attack from the sides, a 'Hyper Modern' chess concept.
6 h1hk-2k
7 P2K-3K
8 k1k-1hk (sc) The purpose of Mister Harley was early castling, but he is doing it to the side controlled by the white bishop.
9 K1K-1BQ (lc) Mister Blackburne also castles, but his purpose is not defensive, it is offensive from the flank, as it will be seen.
10 p2bq-4bq
11 H1HK-2K
12 p2hq-3hq
13 P2BK-4BK
14 h1hq-3bq
15 P2HK-4HK
16 p2cq-3cq
17 P4BK-5BK
18 q1q-2bq
19 H2K-3HK
20 p4k-5k
21 H3BQ x p4K
22 b3q x H6hk
23 P2CK x b3HK
24 b1bq-2hq
25 B1BK-4BQ
26 p2q-4q Forked attack by black pawn against white bishop and white knight.
27 C1CK x p7CK The white castle captures a pawn who was not bothering anyone.
28 k1hk x C2ck The black king falls into the trap and captures the white castle. The correct black move would have been 28 h4k or 28 p3bk (both are necessary, in any order), keeping the huge material advantage of black queen.
29 C1Q-1CK + The other white castle begins a brilliant combination.
30 k2ck-1hk
31 H4K-6BK +
32 p2hk x H3bk
33 B2HQ x p6BK Threatening check mate to the black king by the white castle.
34 h2k-3hk The only way of trying to stop the imminent check mate.
35 P5BK x h6HK
36 p2bk x P3hk
37 B4BQ x p5Q +
38 c1bk-2bk The black queen may also cover her king, but it is useless anyway.
39 C1CK-8CK X

BRILLIANT MISTER BLACKBURNE !!! From the 27th move, in which the white castle captures a black pawn, to the 39th move, in which the black king is check mated, there is a ply depth of twelve moves (counting white and black as separate). It is clear that Mister Blackburne had at least this ply depth of thinking, twelve moves. Modern computers rarely go beyond a ply depth of sixteen moves in normal games. They may go to deeper thinking in analysis mode, which takes a long time even for strong computers.

It looks like if Mister Blackburne had been a precursor of the Hyper Modern Chess Movement of the 1930's, which included Aaron Nimzowitsch, Richard Reti, Savielly Tartakower, and other 'unorthodox' players. Highly recommendable this style of playing, but this is a matter of personal idiosyncrasy, not suited to every one.

Advice offered by some of the best champions in History

"Good pawn structure is fundamental"
(André François Danican Philidor, France, 1780's).

"Keep officers in cooperation with pawns"
(Paul Morphy, Louisiana, Confederate States, 1850's and 1860's).

"Look for combinations and sacrifices"
(Adolf Anderssen, Prussia, 1870's).

"Keep mobility, and deny it to the enemy"
(Siegbert Tarrasch -Jew who resided in Germany-, 1910's).

"Play unusual first moves either with white or with black"
"Block the centre and press on either flank"
"Avoid castling, except for imminent attack or defence"
"Concentrate attack on enemy's castled flank"
(Hyper Modern Chess Movement: Aaron Nimzowitsch, Richard Reti, Savielly Tartakower and others, 1930's).

Hyper links

The hyper links provided below largely complete the field of interests of a chess player, a problem composer or problem solver, or another person somehow interested in chess. What may not be found in those documents directly, may perhaps be found indirectly by following their hyper links to other documents, or by performing a research with the help of their advice.

Searchable data base of chess moves

Encyclopedia of Chess Openings
Encyclopedia of Chess Openings

This monumental book in five volumes contains the most comprehensive collection of chess moves ever put together.
Each volume details specific groups of first moves:
Volume A: Flank openings (English, Benoni, Benko, Dutch, Réti, Old Indian, Irregular...)
Volume B: Semi-open except French and Sicilian (Caro-Kann, Alekhine, Scandinavian...)
Volume C: Open games and French Defence (Spanish, French, Russian, Italian, Scotch...)
Volume D: Closed and semi-closed (Slav, Orthodox, Tarrasch, Tartakower, Albin, Grünfeld...)
Volume E: Indian except Grünfeld and Old Indian (French, Nimzo-Indian, Bogo-Indian, Catalan...)

Some authors are World Champions, and all authors are Grand Masters:
Lev Abramov, Vladimir Bagirov, Mikhail Botvinnik, Srdan Cvetkovic, Miroslav Filip, Efim Geller, Aivars Gipslis, Eduard Gufeld, Vlastimil Hort, Gary Kasparov, Viktor Korchnoi, Zdenko Krnic, Bent Larsen, Aleksandar Matanović, Nikolay Minev, John Nunn, Bruno Parma, Lev Polugaevsky, Alexey Suetin, Evgeny Sveshnikov, Mark Taimanov, Dragan Ugrinovic, Wolfgang Uhlmann...

The Encyclopedia of Chess Openings is published in Servia by Šahovski Informator, in eight languages:
Servian, Russian, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish.

After all the information already given or linked on chess, this chess page finishes by linking the following resources. First there is a data base with millions of games, some of them over 500 years old, plus an exhaustive list of first moves with the various names with which they are generally known. Then there are data bases with retrograde analysis of the end game, this is, study of all possible moves leading to check mate or to tied game, when there are few remaining soldiers on the battle field (the two kings and four or five others).

Chess Laboratory
Names of first moves. Analysis of 2 000 000 games played since the XV century.
Advice to the Chess fanatic: IT IS NOT NECESSARY to memorise the two million games.

Syzygy Tables
Huge data base with fully exhaustive retrograde analysis of the end game.
Mastering the technique of the end game is very difficult, even for Grand Masters.

Shredder Chess
Huge data base with fully exhaustive retrograde analysis of the end game.
Some end games need more than 500 moves by each player for reaching a conclusion !!!

Chess by Internet

Chess is divided into three main branches: playing over the board, playing by correspondence, and composing, solving or analysing problems, puzzles, or game studies. The three branches are well represented in Internet. The hyper links below point to some of the many resources available to the Chess lover.

It's Your Turn
It's Your Turn
Correspondence play by Internet. Tens of varieties of board games, not
only related to Chess, but also to draughts, territorial or race games.

It's Your Turn offers an ample collection of interesting varieties for different kinds of board games, not just for Chess, and it has three modes of competition: regular games between two players, tournament games amongst a group of players, and ladder games where a new player starts at the bottom and the aim is to reach the top of the ladder. Not easy, because for fashionable games there are hundreds of competitors, and some are strong. It's Your Turn has a simple interface, which makes it THE BEST game server for connections of slow speed or limited band width.

Chess Moon
Chess Moon
Over the board and correspondence play by Internet. Chess puzzles.
Standard FIDE Chess, Crazy House, Three Checks, Fischer Random 960.

Chess Moon offers virtual over the board play against computer robots and human opponents, as well as correspondence play against human opponents. For the first branch there are three robots: one playing at elementary level, another at medium level, and another at advanced level. For both branches there are human players of very different levels. There are four varieties available: Standard FIDE Chess, Crazy House, Three Checks, and Fischer Random 960. Puzzles are also available.

Julia's Fairies
Julia's Fairies
Problems, puzzles and game studies of all sorts of Chess varieties.
Frequent tournaments with awards for brilliant Chess compositions.

Julia's Fairies focuses on problems, puzzles and game studies of Chess varieties. It is managed by Lady Julia Vysotska, a celebrated Chess composer and Web Master of the World Federation for Chess Composition, and enriched by the contributions of Masters in composition, in correspondence play, or in over the board play. Members can solve the existing compositions, or they can create their own compositions and submit them. There are frequent composition tournaments, with awards for the most brilliant works.


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