Also known as the game of kings, Chess is one of the world’s most popular board games. It is played by people from all backgrounds and enjoyed by individuals who range in age from children to senior citizens. The history of the famed strategy game goes back more than one thousand years. In this article, we talk about how Chess got its name.
Chess got its name after the term “Checkmate”. The name Chess is from the evolution of the word “Shah”, which is the Persian word for “King”. The game that we know today is the result of a development that has occurred across many different centuries, countries, and cultures. The entire history of Chess is a fascinating one and one of the most interesting aspects of this history is the game’s name itself. This name is equally the product of the many centuries, countries, and cultures that have influenced the development of the game of chess. This raises a simple question that many people want to know the answer to. How did chess get its name?
Where Did Chess Get Its Name From?
The name Chess originates from Persia and it is an evolution of the Persian word for a King – Shah. The term “Shaah Maat” means that the King is dead. This was the term used in Persia for checkmate. When this terminology entered into European circles and then came to the English-speaking world, it evolved into the term checkmate. The current name chess derives from the word checkmate. It is also worth noting that the German word for Chess is “Schach”. The English word chess more closely derives from this word but the origin goes back to the Persian term Shah.
What Are the Origins of the Game of Chess?
Having a solid base of knowledge about the origins of the game of Chess is helpful when it comes to understanding how it eventually came to have the current name that it is commonly known by in many parts of the world. As the discussion about the origins of the word chess demonstrated, this was not always what the game was called. Chess went through a long evolution over many centuries before it became the game that the world knows today.
If you read about the history of Chess, you’ll find that the reality is that the origin of Chess is still a mystery that has not been completely solved. The current evidence suggests that a game resembling chess was being played by the 6th century CE. This game is traced back to India of that time period. The name for this early form of chess was chaturanga. Chess game pieces have been found across Asia in regions such as China, Pakistan, Central Asia, and Russia as well. Some pieces have even been found that predate the 6th century CE but these are believed to come from games that are likely the precursors of chess rather than the first proper versions of the game.
It seems fairly clear that the migration of chess across Asia and eventually to Europe was the result of trade routes such as the well-known Silk Road. The arrival of chess in the Islamic world is where it would take on the early form of its current name. It was in Persia that chess took on the name shatranj. The precursors of the modern chess terms check and checkmate seems to derive from the Persian words Shah (King) and Maat (death). Players would call out Shah to signify that the king was in trouble (check) and they would shout out Shah Maat to signify that the king is dead/finished (checkmate). As the game of chess traveled across European lands, it evolved into its current version that we know in the English language.
What Does the Name Chess Mean?
To further describe how chess got its current name, some further discussion is required. It is helpful to ask the question what does the name chess mean. As has been noted, the word checkmate comes from the Persian Shah Maat. In the French language, checkmate evolved into the word esches. What this suggests is that the English name for the game – chess – comes from this earlier word from French. In other words, the name chess is essentially another way of saying that the game is called checkmate. Through a multi-century process of evolution across many different regions of the world, the name that it is most commonly known by today eventually came into common usage.
I hope this article answered your questions like how did Chess get its name and why is the game of Chess called Chess. You may be interested in learning more about Chess such as learning who the father of Chess is.