For the last 30 years, from the time he became India’s first grandmaster in 1988, Viswanathan Anand has been the face of chess, here in India and perhaps the world. Always popular, few however realise that this game of cool calculated moves and patience originated in India over 1600 years ago.
Sir William Jones, founder of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, is popular among chess players as the author of ‘Caissa’ (The Goddess of Chess), a poem composed in 1763. An accomplished linguist who knew Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit; it was he who first identified India as the birthplace of chess and linked its origins to a 4th century game ‘Chaturanga’ popular during the Gupta Empire. While evidence of board game pieces have been found in Harappan sites as well, there is a fair amount of debate on whether they are in any way ‘prototypes’ of chess.
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