International Chess Day: Recalling, respecting the game’s place in history

·3 min read

If your life depended on winning a chess match, and you and your opponent had already moved 10 times on the chess board, you would need Dr. Strange on your side to show you “all the possible outcomes of the coming conflict” as he said on “Avengers: Infinity War.”

More on this later.

Way before the arrival of mobile games like Fruit Ninja, Candy Crush or the much more interactive Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, board games were practically the darling of the gaming crowd.

Board games were—and to a degree, still are—popular for a variety of reasons. First of all, it was a great excuse for social interaction. Friends could meet up on a weeknight and spend hours competing, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

However, if there were two people who wanted to take their gaming to the next level, chess was a good option. Chess is a war strategy game played on a wooden square board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid; the colors of these squares alternate green and white.

Each player is then handed 16 “pieces;” each piece assigned a particular “role.” One player is assigned the black pieces, the other is given the white pieces. The six different types of pieces are: King (1), Queen (1), Rook (2), Bishop (2), Knight (2) and Pawn (8).

The mechanics may seem complex at first but once you play two to three games with a friend, you’ll most certainly get the basics down. The challenge next is coming up with an offensive or defensive strategy that will help you win. It is during this phase that the learning curve varies from one player to another.

American Mathematician Claude Shannon tried to calculate the number of ways chess can be played and published a paper in 1950 called “Programming a Computer for Playing Chess.” The results were mind-blowing. His calculations revealed that after each player has moved a piece five times each, there are 69,352,859,712,417 possible games that could have been played. How about that for data?

Even the Sorcerer Supreme would have to do a ton of maths to help you win a chess game fool-proof.

From the aesthetic point of view, there are some people who collect different chess boards for their different finishes, colors and looks of their pieces. There are basic ones made out of wood and there are some made from acrylic or glass! This is one reason why almost every household before had at least one chessboard in the living room either as a design piece or a game hosts can readily offer to visiting guests.

While the popularity of chess across the board has waned significantly due to the rise of electronic mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, and the myriad mobile games available at one’s disposal, it has carved for itself a place in the history of gaming.

In fact, even a modern mobile multiplayer online battle arena game like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang pays respect to the hallowed strategy game, although it has made its own modifications and calls the game mode “Magic Chess.”

From its standardization in the 1800s up until the official recognition of World Chess Day every July 20 recently in 2019, the game of chess is still very much present in the minds of casual fans and curious gamers alike. Only time will tell until a new generation of players picks up the pieces and rediscovers its desire for sharing a human bond through a friendly game of strategy and patience.

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