5 Fun Facts About the History of Chess

Handmade wooden chess sets are making a comeback in recent years, and there’s a very good reason
for that: people love the look of handmade chess pieces that evoke an era of time gone by. A wooden
chess set has something classic about it that just can’t be mimicked by mass-produced plastic pieces, as
convenient as they may be at times. If you want to know more interesting factors about chess sets, read
on to discover 5 fun facts about how chess—including handmade chess pieces and beyond—have been
loved (or hated!) throughout history.

Fact #1: The longest tournament chest game ended in a draw

In 1989, the longest official tournament chest game in recorded chess history was held in Belgrade. The
competitors (Nikolić and Arsović) kept the game up for 269 moves–which took a whopping 20 hours and
15 minutes to get through–before the game was completed in a draw. The rules of the tournament had
recently been modified to allow for more than 100 moves, a ruling which would ultimately impact the
length and result of this historic game.

Fact #2: The youngest World Chess Champion was only 22 years old

Garry Kasparov became the youngest World Chess Champion in recorded history in 1985, when he won
the tournament at only 22 years old. Kasparov held an FIDE title until 1993, when he set up his own
chess organization after irreconcilable differences with FIDE. He retired from professional chess in 2005
and is now an author and activist.

Fact #3: Wood is one of the most popular materials for modern chess sets

While it seems like plastic chess sets were all the rage in the 1990s and early 200s0s, it is the wooden
chest set that is staging the biggest return in the chess world. Consumers are more interested in
handmade wooden chess sets and playing wooden chess than ever before; with the distinct look of
wooden chess pieces and the allure they have when held in your hands, who can blame them!

Fact #4: Historic chess sets were often based on real people

While handmade wooden chess sets today range from simple to ornate, it was very common in the past
for wooden, ivory and bone chest sets to reflect current events in their figural designs. For instance, in
the years following the French Revolution, numerous custom chess sets were made featuring Louis XVI
and Marie Antoinette in the prominent king and queen pieces. These historical handmade chess sets
often fetch a hefty price at auction. Thankfully, you don’t have to break the bank to get your own
beautiful wooden chess set—you can carve a set yourself or purchase a pre-made handmade set for an
affordable price instead.

Fact #5: The Queen was not always this wrong

During the earliest days of chess, the Queen piece was not prominent or strong. The piece would only
move one square at a time in a diagonal direction. This was later extended to 2 squares at a time, but
still only diagonally. It was not until the 16th century that the rules were revamped to reflect the
powerful queen piece that is beloved (and feared) by chess players today.


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