The Game That Won’t Quit

Many people may question why such an archaic game continues to be played today. When compared to modern video games, which have a linear path that starts and ends the same way for all players, chess has many alternatives. Many is, of course, an understatement. It is calculated that after three moves (that is three turns by black and white) there are over 9 million possible positions. After four moves this number escalates to over 300 billion, and thus to astronomical levels as the game continues. These open possibilities allow chess to withstand the tests of time, puzzling even those who claim to have mastered it.

Chess Is for Humans and Robots

It is well documented that in the last century machines have come to comprehend the game of chess. Eventually becoming adept enough to best even the world’s greatest players. The game offers a competitive opportunity for man to test his wits against that of the machine he creates, chess, after all, may well have been one of the first games we played against computers. And yet looking back at its history, the very first chess machine was quite different.

The Turk was built in the late 18th Century by a man called Wolfgang von Kempelen, who wanted to astonish the globe with his invention. His wondrously intelligent cabinet with a chess board watched over by a beaded man in Ottoman garb, would come to compete with some of histories greatest minds. Napolean Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin were just a couple of the great men it defeated. Many years later the mystery of the Turk was revealed, people would find out that inside the box was a cavity big enough for a human, this is where chess masters would hide and secretly compete against unwitting opponents. People of the time were, no doubt, a little relieved that the brains of their leaders could not be trumped by the mind of a machine. If only they would have waited another few hundred years, Alan Turing would create the first chess machine in 1951.

Chess Is Universal

Ice Hockey is unsurprisingly less popular in countries with tropical climates, and swimming is far more difficult in the desert – the point is many sports and hobbies have regional and practical origins. Chess on the other hand is played worldwide. Because it is a game of wits and less a game of athleticism, its scope for possible players is much broader. In fact, there are so many ways to play chess that games can undergo many hurdles. Take blindfold chess, this works just as it sounds where players compete without seeing their own or the other player’s pieces. The fact that the game consists of the movement of pieces over set spaces makes it possible to play even without a board. Many chess pro’s around the world compete mentally in several games at once. In June of 1970, chess became the first game to be played between the people of Earth and those in outer space. Those aboard the soviet manned vessel played a game that would end in a draw, but more than anything showed the versatility of the game and its long-distance appeal.