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Celebrate National Chess Day

Celebrate National Chess Day with Gentlemen's Hardware! Not only are we able to bring you a world-class Wooden Chess Set, we are also breaking down the history of chess and National Chess Day. 

In 1976, President Gerald Ford declared October 9th to be National Chess Day through presidential proclamation. This day was declared to celebrate the royal game and recognize how the game generates challenge, intellectual stimulation, and enjoyment for citizens of all ages.

President Gerald Ford stated: "For both professionals and amateurs, chess is a game that sharpens the mind, tests human faculties, and encourages healthy competition. It has captivated the attention of players and spectators worldwide and will continue to do so as long as competition and excellence challenge mankind." and we can't help but agree!

Wooden Chess Board with Black and White Pieces

The history of chess can be traced back to its origins in India with the game chaturanga before the 600s AD. As this game spread through Asia and Europe, it was adapted through play and eventually evolved into the game we know today around the 16th century. 

Chess theory moved slowly until the development and sharing of new opening ideas in L'Analyse des échecs (The Analysis of Chess) by François-André Danican Philidor from France. As more and more published writings on theories of chess developed, new ways to play and further the game of chess became popular. 

In the mid 19th century, the standardization of chess sets occurred. Before this era of chess, the boards that were used in gameplay weren't uniform. With a new design from Nathaniel Cooke and endorsement from Howard Staunton, the strongest player of this time, these knew style of pieces became know as the Staunton pattern and became instantly popular. These versions are still considered to be the standard for tournament chess sets today! 

Wooden Chess Board on cement table in living room

As the 19th century progressed, chess clubs and competitive play became more popular but alongside this growth came issue with the time it took players to make moves. With this came the introduction of chess clocks to the competitive game. Prior to this, a chess game could last up to 14 hours with one record stating that it took one player as much as two hours and 20 minutes to make a single move at a London tournament.

Thanks to the standardization of chess sets and chess clocks, all the equipment needed for modern matches and regulated tournaments were in place.

Today, the World Chess Championship is played to determine the highly sought after title of World Champion. Since 2014, the championship is settled in two-year cycles. Magnus Carlsen is the current reigning World Champion since he defeated Viswanathan Anand in 2013. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 match was postponed to 2021 which Magnus Carlsen once again won. In 2022, he announced that he would not be returning 2023 to defend his title, so there will be a new World Champion in 2023. 

Wooden chess board with black and white chess pieces

5 Quick Chess Facts

  1. The highest title awarded in chess aside from the title of World Champion is the title of Grandmaster. To achieve this title, a player must reach an established classical or standard FIDE rating of 2500 and earn three grandmaster norms in international competition. 
  2. The folding chessboard was invented by a priest who was forbidden to play chess. This priest created the folding chessboard to hide the board on a bookshelf since, when folded, the board looks like two books.
  3. There are more possible variations of chess games than there are atoms in the observable universe. This is called the Shannon Number and represents all the possible move variations in the game of chess. There are 400 different possible positions after one move each; 72,084 different possible positions after two moves each; over 9 million different possible positions after three moves each; and over 318 billion different possible positions after four moves each... so you can see how the game outnumbers atoms!
  4. The word "Checkmate" comes from the Persian phrase "Shāh māt" which means "the King is dead."
  5.  In early years, the Queen could only move one square at a time in diagonal movement. Later, play was adapted so the Queen could move two squares at a time in a diagonal movement. This change was made in honor of the powerful Queen Isabella. 

Chess Board on concrete table with other wooden games surrounding it


Gentlemen's Guidebook is a blog for exploration, discovery, and adventure brought to you by Gentlemen's Hardware and Barrel & Oak. If you have any questions or requests, please reach out to hello@gentlemenshardware.com.

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