June 17, 2009
ABU LY FATH, Ahrmad
Tadzhik chess player of the 11th - 12th centuries. The author of the Book of Chess (12th century) – an original encyclopaedia of shatranj, containing about 300 mansubat (etudes and problems, most of which he collected, although some of them he composed himself), 10 Openings, different opinions about the use of chess, a legend about the origin of chess, etc. which witnesses the high level and culture of chess-play in Middle Asia in the 12th century. Three rewritten copies of the book (copied) from the 17th century are kept in the coffers of the Accademy of Science of Uzbekistan.
In the following problem White is mating in 3 moves. Don’t forget that the Alfil on c5 is a 2X2 leaper and doesn’t protect the square f8.
Solution: 1. Rf8!+ Kf8 2. e7+ Re8 3. Nf6#
Chess pieces found in Ager, Spain carved in rock crystal. They are an example of the earliest type of chessmen used in Europe. It was a popular, although untrue, tradition that this set belonged to Charlemagne.
Probably the King (left) and the Vizier
One opponent shot at Ajeeb after losing a game, wounding the operator. One of the operators of Ajeeb was chess and checkers master Constant Ferdinand Burille. During his years as operator, he played over 900 games of chess and lost 3 games. However, he never lost a single checkers game. Pillsbury was its hidden operator from 1898 to 1904. When Ajeeb was on display in New York at the Eden Museum, it played checkers for a dime and chess for a quarter. Opponents included Theodore Roosevelt, Houdini, Admiral Dewey, O. Henry and Sarah Bernhardt. Ajeeb was 10 feet high. Ajeeb was first exhibited at the Royal Polytechnic Institute in London in 1868. It was lodged at the Crystal Palace between 1868 and 1876 and then went to the Royal Aquarium at Westminster until 1877. It was then taken to Berlin where it was viewed by over 100,000 people within three months. It came to New York in 1885, but it was later destroyed by a fire at Coney Island in 1929.
al-ADLI (800? – 860?)
Arabic player. Probably the best of his time till he lost against Ar Razi in 847. Father of the opening analysis. He is credited with the use of descriptive chess notation and a rating system (5 classes of players). Published Dilaram mansuba.
Abu’n Na’am is one of the famous problem from the beginning of the composition solving.
Juegos Diuersos de Axedrez, Dados, y Tablas consus Explications, Ordenudos por man Dado Del Rey don Alonso el Sabio. It is the first source mentioning the pawn’s double move on the first move. The manuscript is now at the Monastery of St. Lorenzo del Escorial near Madrid.
Title given by caliph al-Ma’mun to the top four chessplayers in the early ninth century. The top four players were Jabir al-Kufi, Rabrab, al-Ansari, and abu’n-Na’am. These are the first unofficial grandmasters of chess. Their endgames survive today.
Arabic for elephant. Also a Bishop in Spanish. A (2,2) leaper. Found in shatranj and replaced in chess, in Europe, by the bishop around 1500.
The strongest chessplayer at the end of the 14th century. He was also known as Ali Shatrangi (Ali the Chessplayer). He could successfully give odds to all other leading players. He was a lawyer and of Chinese origin.
AL-LAJLAJ (the Stammerer)
First person to analyze and publish works on openings in 910. He was a pupil of as-Suli, the strongest player of the 10th century. His analyses were carried down from Arabic to Persian to Sanscrit to Turkish to 16th century Italian.
In the following diagram the White are mating in 5 moves. The Alfils (2X2 leaper) are on f5 and g5.
Solution: 1. Ra2+ Kb1 2. Rf1 Rc1 3. Rd1 Rxd1 4. Ad3 Kc1 5. Ae3#
Moorish poet-king who reigned over Seville in the late 11th century. He was regarded as a chess patron and kept several chess masters in his kingdom. In 1078 Alfonso VI and Ibn-Ammar, chess master in al-Mutamid’s court, played a game of chess for the stake of Seville.
Ibn-Ammar won and the city was spared from siege. Alfonso kept the chess set and board.
Caliph of Baghdad who favoured chess and backgammon and granted liberal pensions to chess masters in his court around 800 A.D.
The first references of chess to Arabic occur in 720 romantic poems by Kutaiyira Azzata and al-Farazdaq. The Arabicised name of the Persian Chatrang was shatranj. The pieces were called Shah (king), Firz (minister or queen), Fil (elephant or bishop), Faras (horse), Rukh (chariot or boat), and Baidaq (foot-soldier).
Chess pieces, Egypt, 10-12th c. (British Museum)
Champion of Persia in 847 after defeating Al-Aldi in the presence of the caliph Matawakkil. He wrote a book of chess problems of which two survive today.
Arabic manuscript, circ 1140
A 64-square uncheckered gaming board used in India as early as the 2nd century B.C. and borrowed for chess.
AS-SULI (880-946), Abũ-Bakr Muhammed ben Yahã
Turkish player who defeated al-Mawardi, the resident master of the caliph al-Muktafi, to become the Champion of the known World in the 10th century. His superiority was recognized up to Renaissance times. Composer and Author of the first book describing a way of playing Shatranj.
In the following diagram the White wins in 6 moves. The Alfil, a 2×2 leaper is on h3.
Solution: 1. Rh8+ Rxh8 2. Af5+ Rh2 3. RxRh2+ Kg8 4. Rh8+ Kh8 5. g7+ Kg8 6. Nh6#
12th and last Inca emperor of Peru who was imprisoned by Francisco Pizarro and the Spanish conquerers in 1533. He was imprisoned in Cajamarca, Peru and learnt chess by watching his guards play, and before long was beating them all. It is said that a certain Spanish captain hated him for this and had him murdered. This information is preserved in a letter from Don Gaspar de Espinosa (1533) and the autobiography of Don Alonso Enriquez de Guzman (1518-1543).
The name of the chess society, which included the strongest German chessplayers during the period of 1836-1845: Von Bilguer (1813-1840), Bledow (1795-1846), Hanstein (1811-1850), Horwitz (1807-1885), Baron Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa (1808-1899), Mayet(1810-1868) and Shorn (1802-1850). The Group lived in Berlin from 1837 until 1839. They compiled the first edition of the well known Handbuch des Schachspiels which was published in 1843 and founded the magazine Deutsche Schachzeitung in 1846. This society’s members were the first ones to popularize Chess in Germany.
Famous manuscript (119 leaves) from the XIII century related to chess, blackgammon and other games. It contains 194 positions or problems.
The oldest European book on chess is “Juegos Axedrez, dados y tablas,” written in the 13th century. The first hardback book dealing with chess, Dass Goldin Spil, was published in Augsburg in 1472. The first chess book printed in Russia was a translation of Benjamin Franklin’s Morals of Chess, published in St. Peterburg in 1791. The title was Pravila dlia Shashechnoi Igry (Rules for the Game of Chess). However, the title used the word for checkers instead of the word for chess (shakmatnoi).
The first book to explain chess strategy was L’Analyze des Eschecs, by Philidor in 1749. It went through more than 100 editions in ten languages. The first chess book published in America was Chess Made Easy by James Humphreys, printed in Philadelphia in 1802. This was just a reprint of Philidor’s book published in 1796. The first original American book was The Elements of Chess, published in Boston in 1805. The first chess book entirely devoted to the analysis of a single opening, Analysis of the Muzio Gambit by Kassin and Cochrane, was published in India in 1829. A book was published in German with the title, Advice to Spectators at Chess Tournaments. All the pages were blank except the last. On the last page were two words, Halt’s Maul, keep your mouth shut. The first book review was CHESS by Twiss in 1787.
The best English-language selling book could be the BobbyFischer Teaches Chess which was sold over a million of copies. Also best sellers were Lasker’s Manuel of Chess,and more recently My Great Predecessors by Garry Kasparov (2003).