a game for two people, played on a board with black and white squares, using different shaped pieces, including two kings. The aim is to get the other player’s king into a position where it cannot move.
Origin and usage
The word chess comes from the Old French word ‘esches’ meaning ‘checkmate’, which is the key move of the game. The word and the game it refers to may also have origins in the ancient Sanskrit word ‘chaturanga’ meaning ‘four members of an army’ (foot soldiers, horses, chariots, elephants).
Chess is a noun that refers to an ancient game of strategy played between two people on a board composed of black and white squares. Each player has 16 pieces: eight pawns, two bishops, two knights, two rooks, one queen and one king. The pieces can all be moved along the board differently in distinctive lengths and directions. The object of the game is to trap your opponent’s king in a position from which it cannot move without being taken by an opponent’s piece.
Millions of people of all ages play chess in all corners of the globe. There are school competitions, national and international tournaments, and head-to-head challenges between highly skilled masters of the game. Sometimes people even play chess against computer opponents, which have specially-written software to make them tough competitors.
The first World Chess Champion was Wilhelm Steinitz, crowned in 1886. Today, competitive chess is regulated by an international governing body, the World Chess Federation or Fédération Internationale des Échecs. The highest honour awarded by the World Chess Federation is the distinction of grandmaster.
“Chess helps you to concentrate, improve your logic. It teaches you to play by the rules and take responsibility for your actions, how to problem solve in an uncertain environment.”
(Garry Kasparov, chess grandmaster)
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.
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