Here is some information on some of the earliest chess manuscripts, texts, and books that have come down through history. Many of the early manuscripts have been lost.
Perhaps the first manuscript to mention chess or a similar game is found in Vasavadatta by Subandhu (400?-470?). It was written in Sanskrit around 450 CE. This was a romantic story which tells the story of Princess Vasavadatta (daugher of King Pradyota) of Ujjaini falling in love with King Udayana of Vatsa. There is a description for chessmen (nayadyutair) and chess squares (koshthika) on a two-colored chess board. The game itself was probably Chaturanga (though not mentioned by Subandhu), the earliest precursor of modern chess. Chaturanga in Sanskrit means four parts. In India, an army platoon had four parts - elephants, chariots, soldiers on horseback, and foot-soldiers. A passage describes the rainy season as follows: “The time of the rains played its game with frogs for nayadyutair [chessmen] which, yellow and green in color, as if mottled by lac, leapt up on the black field squares.” Chaturunga comes from a battle formation mention in the Indian epic Mahabharata in the 4th century CE.
The first surviving reference to Chatrang (later becoming shatranj - ?????), the Persian word for chess, is in the manuscript Karnamak-i-Artakhshatr-i-Papakan, or Kar-Namag I Ardasir I Pabagan (The Book of Deeds of Ardashir, son of Papak). It was a Middle Persian text to honor Ardashir (Artaxerxes), the founder of the Sassanid Kingdom, who ruled Persia from 226 to 241. The original was written around 600 in Pahlavi (Middle Persian). The earliest existing manuscript dates to the 14th century. The text mentions that Ardashir was skilled at Chatrang. A line reads, “Artakhshir did this, and by God's help he became doughtier and more skilled than them all in ball-play, in horsemanship, in shatranj, in hunting and in all other accomplishments. The sole independent manuscript of this text to have been identified so far is codex MK, which was copied in 1322 in Gujarat, Western India, by Mihraban I Kay-Hasraw.
Around 625, the manuscript Harsha Charitha (memoir of Harsha) by Bana Bhatta (Bhattabana or Banabhatta) was written in Sanskrit. It was a text to honor King Harshavardhana Siladitya (Harsha), an emperor in northern India from 606 to 647. He ruled in the Indian city of Kanyakubja or Kananj. There was a reference to the ashatapada board used in chaturanga. A line reads, “Under this monarch, only the bees quarreled in collecting the dew; the only feet cut off are those of measurements, and only from Ashtapadas [gameboard of 8x8 squares] teach the positions of the chaturanga [four-folded army], there is no cutting off the four principal limbs of condemned criminals.” Bana also wrote "Kadambari" which may have had several other references to chess.
Around 700 CE, Husraw i Kawadan ud redag-e (Khosrow, son of Kawad, and the Page) was written in Pahlavi (Middle Persian). It mentions chess, ashtapada, and nard. Khrosow I (501-579) was king of Persia from 531 to 579 AD. He was also known as King Chosroe I Anushiravan. He was probably the person who received the first Indian chessmen and board.
Perhaps the first reference to chess (shatranj) in Arabic is Naqa'id bayna Jarir wa-al-Farazdaq, a poem by al-Farazdaq (641-728?). It mentions baidaq, the pawn (foot-soldier) of shatranj. It was written around 728. Al-Farazdaq wrote, “I keep you from your inheritance and from the royal crown so that, hindered by my arm, you remain a baidaq (pawn) among the bayadiq (pawns).”
Around 800 Chatrang-namak (Matigan-i-chatrang) was written in Pahlavi (Middle Persian) about the history of chatrang and the introduction of the game into Persia from India during the time of Khusru I Nurshiwan, who ruled from 531 to 578. It describes the names of the pieces in chatrang, but not the moves. The earliest surviving copy is a manuscript dated 1323. From the manuscript, the game is said to be devised by ‘Dewasarm, the great ruler of India.’ The pieces consisted of 16 emerald and 16 ruby-red men. The text reads, “Dewasarm has fashioned this chatrang after the likeness of a battle, and in its likeness are two supreme rulers after the likeness of Kings (shah), with the essentials of rooks (rukh) to right and to left, with Counsellor (farzin) in the likeness of a commander of the champions, with the Elephant (pil) in the likeness of the rearguard, with Horse (asp) in the likeness of the commander of the cavalry, with the Foot-soldier (piyadak) in the likeness of so many infantry in the vanguard of the battle. Chatrang-namak may have originated in oral form in the 6th century AD.
Around 800, Yu Kuai Lu (Book of Marvels) was written in China. It recounts the story, set in 762, of a man who dreamt of a battle in which the moves of the forces: horses, commanders, wagons and armored men, resembled those in Chinese chess. The man awoke to find a set of chessmen buried in a nearby well.
Around 840 al-‘Adli ar Rumi (800?-870?) wrote Kitab ash-shatranj (Book of the shatranj (chess)) in Arabic. This is a lost manuscript, but some of his problems, endgames, and opening systems have survived. His book also contained information on the older game of Chaturanga. It was considered the first known treatise on the game of chess. We know of it through referring manuscripts that preserved some of its texts and chess problems. The text included chess history, openings, endings and mansubat (chess problems). The collection had hundreds of chess problems. He also classified chess players into five distinct classes. He also found a system for sorting out the openings into positions, which he called Tabiya. His lost work may have also been the first to describe the knight's tour. Al-Adli also wrote Kitab an-nard (Book of the nard).
An Arabic book of Shatranj problems was written by ar-Razi (820?-890?), called Latif fi’sh shatranj (Elegance in Chess), written around 845. ar-Razi defeated al-Adli in the presence of the caliph Mutawakkil (847-862) to become the strongest chess player in the world. He also wrote Kitab ash-shatranj, which has since been lost. All that has survived in ar-Razi's book is a few opinions on the endgame and a couple of chess problems.
Around 850, the manuscript Haravijaya (the Victory of Siva) by the Kashmir poet Rajanaka Ratnakara Vagisvara, was written in Sanskrit. The book is an epic which describes the defeat of demon Andhaka by Siva. It explained the four units of the old Indian army and the ashtapada, referring to chess. The four units were patti (foot-soldiers), ashwa (horses), ratha (chariots), and dwipa (elephants).
Around 875, Kavyalankara (The ornaments of poetry) by the Kashmir poet Rudrata, written in Sanskrit, alludes to the knight's tour problem. It used a half-chessboard to cover all squares by a chariot (ratha or rook), elephant (gaja), and knight (turaga or horse).
Around 910 Abu-Bakr Muhammad bin Yahya as-Suli (880-946) co-authored a manuscript of problems (mansubat) and a book of openings (ta-biyat) for shatranj, called Kitab-ash-shatranj (Book of Chess), volume one and two. He was assisted by Abu l-Abbas Ahmad ibn Muhammad as-Sarakhsi, a physician. His chess book was the first scientific book written on chess strategy. One of his books contained the knight's tour on an 8x8 chessboard. One of as-Suli's books was a critique on al-Adli's book.
In 923, the historian Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (839-923) wrote Kitab akhbar ar-rusul wal-muluk. Included was a chess incident in 802 between Nicephorus, Emperor of Byzantium and the Caliph Huran ar-Rashid. He described another incident of how the caliph al-Mutazz was playing a game of chess when a messenger brought the head of his rival, al-Musta'in to him. The caliph paid no attention until the chess game was over.
Around 930, Abu al-Faraj Muhammad ibn Ubaid Allah al-Lajlaj (900-970) wrote Kitab mansubat ash-shatranj (book of chess problems). It is another lost chess book. Manuscripts containing some of its contents have survived. He may have been the first person to analyze and publish chess openings. al-Lajlaj means the stammerer (one who lisps). The oldest chess game comes from a match between as-Suli (his te) and al-Lajlaj.
In 947, Muruj adh-dhahab wa ma-adin al-jawahir (Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems) by the Arabic historian Abu al-Hassan Ali ibn al-Husain ibn Ali ibn Ali ibn Abdullah al-Masudi (896-956) was written in Arabic. It was a history of chess in India and Persia. al-Masudi is known as the Herodotus of the Arabs. He was the first to combine history and scientific geography in a large-scale work. He wrote a 30-volume history of the world. He described 6 different variants of chess, including Astrological Chess, Byzantine round chess, Circular Chess and Cylinder Chess. He wrote about chess wagers in India, with the loser losing money or a finger or hand or more. He described the use of ivory in India to make chess pieces. The first European version of this manuscript was published in both French and Arabic between 1861 and 1877.
In 950, al-Masudi wrote about chess in his travel diary. He described how they played and betted on chess in India. Players would wager their fingers on a game of chess. If a player lost, he would cut off a finger with his dagger, then plunge his hand in boiling water with special ointment to cauterize the wound. Then he returns to the game. Another loss would mean another loss of another finger. Sometimes a player who continued to lose would cut off all his fingers, his hand, his fore-arm, his elbow, and other parts of his body. After each amputation, he could cauterize the wound and return to another game of chess.
The library of Caliph Hakam II of Cordoba (915-976) contained an Arabic manuscript on chess problems. (source: van der Linde, “On the Literature of Chess,” The Chess Monthly, vol. 3, 1881, p. 42)
In 988, the Kitab al-Fihrist (The Catalogue) was written by ibn an-Nadim (920?-995). It was a catalog of all known Arabic books. His catalog listed chess book titles by al-‘Adli, ar-Razi, as-Suli, and al-Lajlaj. It included al-Aldi’s Kitab ash-shatranj (Book of Chess), ar-Razi’s Latif fi’sh-shatranj (elegance in chess), as-Suli’s Kitab ash-shatranj in two volumes, al-Laljlaj’s mansubat ash-shatranj (book of chess problems), and B. Aliqlidisi’s Kitab majmu’fi mansubat ash-shatranj (collection of chess problems). These original manuscripts are now lost, but their contribution was collected and recopied in at least 15 other manuscripts written between the 12th and 17th centuries.
Around 997. the first European text on chess appeared in two manuscripts from Einsiedeln: MS Einsidlensis 365 and MS Einsidlensis 309. This was the Medieval Latin poem Versus de schachis in the Einsiedeln manuscripts. It was a 99-line Latin poem on chess. It described a chess board in two colors. Only two known copies exist today. It was found on two manuscripts from Einsielden, Switzerland, written by a German monk at the Benedictine Einsiedeln Abbey (built in 934 AD). The poem’s 98 lines described chess (scacci), its rules, and some basic strategies. The work is considered the earliest known reference to chess in a European text. The poem mentions the chess queen (regina) for the first time ever, replacing the old vizier piece. The poem also described the 64-square chess board with two different colors for the first time. The piece that is today known as the bishop was represented by a count, or aged one. The Einsiedeln Poem began by praising chess as a unique game that did not require dice or a gambling bet. The description was meant to counter religious opposition to games of chance and gambling. The poem then described everything one needed to know in order to play the game. The 32 pieces, 16 on each side, were colored white and red (not black). The pieces in the poem were: rex (king), regina (queen), comes or curvus (count), eques (knight), rochus or marchio (rook), and pedes (pawn). The first English translation of the poem was made by Dr. Henry Aspinwall Howe of McGill College at Montreal in 1878. The poem was originally published by Professor Hagen in the Swiss newspaper Der Bund at Berne, with a German translation.
The Shahnameh or Shahnama (Book of Kings), the national epic of Persia, begun by Daqiqi (900-976) in 975 and finished by Abu'l-Qasim Mansur Firdawsi (940-1020) in 1011 was written in Pahlavi (Middle Persian). It is similar to the Chatrang-namak. It tells how chess (satranj) was introduced into Iran from Hind (India). Ambassadors from Kanauj, India (Hind) during the reign of the Maukhari king Sarvaarman (reigned between 560-585) came to Persia during the reign of Khusru I Nushirwan (Chosroes I Anushirwan or Khusru II Parwiz (590-628)) with a chess-board and men. If the Persians could solve how the chessmen were set on a chessboard correctly, the Indians would pay the tribute to the Persians. If they could not solve this, India would no longer have to give tribute to Persia. In fact, if the Persians could not solve how the pieces were set up, Persia would pay tribute to India. The king's vizier, Buzurgmihr (Wuzurgmihr), took the pieces home and discovered the secret in a day and a night. Illustrated manuscripts of the Shahnama from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries include paintings showing the envoy from Hind and the Persian counselor Buzurgmihr playing chess. It mentions that chess pieces were made of ivory and teakwood, both of which were easily obtained in India.
Around 1030, the manuscript Tarikh al-Hind (History of India) by Abu-Raihan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Beruni (973-1048), also known as Alberuni or al-Biruni, was completed. It was written in Arabic. It was a travel description which had the rules of 4-handed Chaturanga, played with dice.
Around 1030, the Latin romance “Ruodlieb” was written. It is the first reference to chess in German literature. Portions of the poem were discovered in the Benedictine Abbey of Tegernsee (founded in 746 AD) in Upper Bavaria, Germany. The poem was probably written by a monk named Froumunt of the Tegernsee Abbey. The poem was translated by Baron Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa (1818-1899). It described the adventures of a medieval knight named Ruodlieb. He was a youth of noble birth who goes out to seek his fortune. Chess (ludus scachorum) featured in one setting when Ruodlieb was forced to play for stakes with the court of a foreign king. Ruodlieb has been regarded as an ancestor of the German novel. The poem was left unfinished. The manuscript was cut up and used for binding books. Fragments of the poem were only gradually discovered and pieced together from 1807 onwards. Some fragments were discovered in 1838 under the binding of some old books in the Abbey of Tegernsee. These fragments were sent to the Munich Library, which has 34 leaves of the poem.
Ruodlieb serves a powerful king. At the conclusion of a war with another king, peace was arranged by Ruodlieb. Ruodlieb spends time in the enemy’s camp where he plays chess with the Viceroy. Ruodlieb wins most of the games, and only loses when he deliberately plays to lose. After five days of playing chess with the Viceroy, Ruodlieb is then admitted to the king’s presence. Ruodlieb then describes what happens next.
“The king, calling for the tabula (chess board), orders a chair to be placed for himself, and orders me to sit on the couch opposite to play with him. This I strongly refuse, saying: ‘It is a terrible thing for a poor man to play with a king.’ But when I see that I cannot withstand him, I agree to play, intending to be beaten by him. I say: ‘What profit is it to poor me to be beaten by a king? But I fear, Sir, that you will soon be wrath with me, if fortune help me to win.’ The king laughed and answered jestingly: ‘There is no need, my dear man, to be afraid about that: even if I never win, I shall not become more angry. But know clearly that I wish to play with you, for I wish to learn what unknown moves you will make.’ Immediately both king and I moved carefully, and, as luck would have it, I won three times, to the great surprise of many of his nobles. He lays down a wager against me, and would not let me lay down anything against him. He gives what he had wagered, so that not one coin remained. Many follow, anxious to avenge him, proposing bets and despising my bets, sure of losing nothing and trusting much to the uncertainty of fortune. They help one another, and do harm by helping too much. They are hindered while they consult variously; through their disputes I win quickly three times, for I would not play anymore. They now wished to give me what they had wagered. At first I refused, for I thought it disgraceful to enrich myself at their expense, and to impoverish them. I said: ‘I am not accustomed to win anything by play.’ They say: ‘While you are with us, live as we do; when you get home again, live there as you like.”
In 1061, the Italian cardinal bishop of Ostia, Petrus (Peter, Pedro) Damiani (1007-1072), wrote a letter to the pope-elect Alexander II (pope from 1961 to 1073), and to Archdeacon Hildebrand (who was Pope Gregory VII from 1073 to 1085), complaining that priests were playing chess (scacorum). He was particularly outraged that his traveling companion, the Bishop of Florence, was seen playing chess in public (a hotel). Damaini labeled chess as a game of chance, like dice, which was banned. Damaini was ignorant of chess and prejudiced against it. He said that playing chess made” a buffoon of a priest.” Damiani’s denunciation of chess led to a number of ecclesiastical decrees which put chess among the games forbidden to the clergy and monastic orders. Damiani became a saint and was made a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Leo XII in 1828.
Around 1070, Abu Marwan Hayyan ibn Khalaf ibn Husayn ibn Hayyan al-Qurtubi (987-1075) wrote a manuscript on the history of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). He records that the vizier Abu Ja’far Ahmad ibn al-Abbas (980?-1038) of Almeria was a keen chessplayer. (source: Murray, p. 203)
Around 1120, a poem, The Song of Chess, written by the Spanish rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra (1089-1164) described each chess piece. The pieces still resembled the Arab style of play, which did not have the modern chess queen. The elephant did not move like today’s bishop piece, but as confined to three spaces diagonally at a time.
In 1129, the encyclopedia Manasollasa (Delighter of the Mind), by the South Indian ruler King Someshvara III (1127-1138), was written in Sanskrit. It was the first description of chess in South India. It gave a long list of games played, including chess.
In 1140, the Abd al-Hamid I Turkish manuscript was written that quoted Al-Adli as saying, “It is universally acknowledged that three things were produced from India, in which no other anticipated it, and the like of which existed nowhere else: the book Kalila-wa-Dimna, the nine ciphers with which one can count to infinity (numbers), and chess.” The incomplete manuscript called the Abdul Hamid (Abd-al-Hamid I or Abdalhamid I) Arabic collection (known as the AH manuscript) was written (copied) by Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. al-Mubarek b. Ali al-Madhahhab al Baghdadi. The original title was Kitab ash-shatranj mimma'l-lafahu'l-`Adli was-Suli wa ghair-huma (Book of chess; extracts from the works of al-'Adli, as-Suli and others). It is also called Risala fi’sh-shatranj by Abu’l-Abbas Ahmad al-Adli. It has nearly 200 problems. It contains problems composed by Muslim composers such as al-Aldi and as-Suli. The manuscript contains a short treatise on chess principles by al-Lajlaj. The existence of this manuscript came from Dr. Paul Schroeder of the German embassy, when he discovered it at Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1880. It is Constantinople catalog No. 560. (sources: Murray, p. 171, and British Chess Magazine, vol 23, 1903, pp. 442-443.)
In 1148 Rajatarangini (River of Kings) by Kalhana was written in Sanskrit. It was a chronicle of the kings of Kashmir. It alluded to 4-handed Chaturanga.
Around 1148, Alexiad, a 15-volume history, was written. This was the first Greek reference to chess. This was a biography of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnena (1050-1118) by his daugher, Anna Comnena, while in exile. She describes her father playing chess with friends in Book 12. She also says that chess was invented by the Assyrians. The Crusaders may have been exposed to chess from Emperor Comnena, and may have brought it back to England.
Around 1190, a manuscript called ‘Risala al-Lajlaj fi bayan la’bash-shatranj’ (Al-Lajlaj’s treatise on the demonstration of the game of chess) was written. The manuscript was discovered by Dr. Paul Schroeder of the German embassy, when he discovered it at Constantinople in 1880. It is called the L manuscript, As’ad Efendi, Constantinople, No. 1858. An entry on the title page shows that Sultan Bayazid Khan (1481-1512) gave the manuscript to his chief butler, Yusaf b. Abdallah in 1487. (source: Murray, p. 173)
Around 1200, the manuscript Kitab ash-shatranj (Book of Chess) was written. The manuscript was discovered by Dr. Paul Schroeder of the German embassy, when he discovered it at Constantinople in 1880. It is called the AE manuscript, the As’ad Efendi, Constantinople No. 2866. It is 609 pages. It is a compilation treating all branches of chess. It contains 60 diagrams showing the various points of analysis. I final section has 194 problems. (source: Murray, p. 174)
Around 1210 Wigalois by the Middle High German poet Wirnt von Grafenberg (1160?-1220?) was written. It is a courtly verse romance. It mentions Courier chess, played on a 12x8 board.
Around 1215, the Hadith Bayad wa Riyad manuscript was written in Andalusi Arabic. It is an Arabic love story. The main characters of the tale are Bayad, a merchant's son from Damascus, Riyad, a well-educated girl in the court of an unnamed Hajib of Iraq, and a "Lady" (al-sayyida). In one episode of the tale, Bayad waits for word from Riyad and spends his time by playing a game of chess. There is an illustration of Bayad playing chess in the manuscript. It is the earliest figural depiction of chess pieces in an Arabic manuscript. It is the only illustrated manuscript known to have survived from the Muslim medieval life in Spain and Portugal. The manuscript is in the Vatican Library, catalogued as Codex Vatican Arabo 368.
In 1221, a manuscript was copied by Muhammad ibn Hawa ibn Othman al-Mu’addib. The manuscript was discovered by Dr. Paul Schroeder of the German embassy, when he discovered it at Constantinople in 1880. It is called the V manuscript, Vefa (Atiq Efendi), Eyyub, or manuscript no. 2234 of the library of Atif Effendi, Constantinople (Istanbul). It contains 77 leaves. Schroeder gave it the title Mansubat li Abi Zakariya Yahya b. Ibrahim al-Hakim. The official catalogue gives no author’s name. (source: Murray, p. 174-175)
In 1224, a manuscript, Kitab al-mujib fi talkhis akhbar ahl al-Maghrib (The pleasant book in summarizing the history of the Maghreb) written by Abdelwahid al-Marrakushi (1185-1230?) mentions that Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ammar (1031-1086) played chess with King Alfonso VI (1040-1109) of Castile in 1078. The story goes that Ammar beat King Alfonso in a game of chess. Ammar’s victor in chess convinced the king to turn away from Seville.
In 1230, the manuscript Heimskringla was written in Old Norse in Iceland by Snorri Sturluson (1178-1241). The story of king Canute (995-1035) playing chess is mentioned in the manuscript. According to the story, in 1028, the king was playing a game of chess with his brother-in-law, Earl Godwin Ulfnadson , the husband of the king’s sister, when the king made a bad move, which led to a loss of one of the king’s pieces. The king took his move back, replaced his knight, and told the earl to play a different move. The earl got angry over this, overturned the chess board and started walking away. The king said “Runnest thou away, Ulf the coward?” The earl responded, “Thou wouldst have run farther at Helga river if thou hadst come to battle there. Thou didst not call me Ulf the coward when I hastened to thy help while the Swedes were beating thee like a dog.” The earl then left the king’s quarters. The next day, the king ordered the earl to be killed. The earl was stabbed to death at Saint Lucius’ church. In 1035, Canute died at the Abbey in Shaftesbury, Dorset. According to Henry Bird in Chess History and Reminiscences, the king was killed while watching a chess game. Armed soldiers rushed into the building and slew Canute while his friend, Valdemar, who was playing chess, was severely wounded. Valdemar escaped using the chess board as a shield.
Around 1230, a manuscript now known as the Carmina Burana (Songs of Benediktbeuern) was written. It is a collection of 320 poems, including a medieval Latin poem about chess. The manuscript was found in 1803 at the southern Bavarian monastery of Benediktbeuern. In 1847, this collection of lyric poetry was published as the Codex Buranus by the librarian Johann Andreas Schmeller (175-1852). Today, the original manuscript is in the Bavarian State Library in Munich.
In 1257, an Arabic manuscript was written (copied) containing chess. It later formed part of the library of Claudius James Rich (1787-1820), collected while he was in Baghdad in the service of the East India Company. The British Museum (BM) later purchased it (Arabic Addition 7515). The author is unknown. It is a quarto volume of 132 leaves. It copies some of al-Adli’s work and some quotes from al-Lajlaj. The text is dedicated to some prince (Saladin, or one of his successors). There are some 200 diagrams. The manuscript may have been compiled in Persia. (sources: Murray, p. 173, and Forbes, “Some Observations of the Origin of Chess,” Chess Player’s Chronicle, Vol. 16., 1855, p. 141)
In 1258, the Persian poet Saadi (Sa’di) Shirazi (1210-1292) wrote the manuscript Gulistan (the Rose Garden). It had several chess references in story 10 and story 12. In story 12, he wrote, “Marvelous. A pawn (foot-soldier) of ivory travels across the squares of the chess-board and becomes a farzin (Firzan), but the footmen of the Haj (pilgrim) who has crossed deserts in his pilgrimage on foot is worse at the end.”
Around 1260 the Quaedam moralitas de scaccario per Innocentium papum (the Innocent Morality) was published. It may be the oldest of chess moralities. The world resembles a chessboard. Things are in black or white. The colors represent life and death, or praise and blame. It was first attributed to Pope Innocent III (1163-1216), a prolific sermon writer. Later, it was attributed to John of Wales (1220-1290), also known as Johannes Guallensis, a Franciscan friar who taught at Paris and Oxford and was a chess player. The morality was published around 1470 as part of Summa collationum. It was the first time that the term for chess appeared in a printed book.
In 1266, the manuscript known as the Bonus Socius, Latin for “good companion,” was originally written in Latin. It is a collection of chess problems. The original author may have been Boncompagno da Signa. In 1295, a copied version in Norman French may have been written by the scribe Nicholas de Saint-Nicholai, from Lombardy, Italy. He transcribed the Latin manuscript and substituted in the prologue his name in place of Bonus Socius. He writes in the prologue, "I, a good companion falling in with the wishes of my companions, have taken the trouble to collect into a book all the problems which I have discovered in chess." The Bonus Socius manuscript is considered the oldest compilation of chess problems from medieval Europe. It includes 194 problems, including a knight’s tour. In the 17th century, the Norman translation was owned by De Vaubouton. In 1700, it was owned by Sir Andrew Fountaine (1676-1753) of Narford Hall, Norfolk, England. In 1902, J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) of New York purchased the manuscript for the Bennett Collection. The private version is called the Fontaine manuscript. Another version of the manuscript is in the British Museum. One copy is in the National Library in Florence.
Around 1273, a manuscript called Masnavi was written. It is a poetic masterpiece of around 25,000 couplets, written by Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273). A copy was made and published in Isfahan, Iran in 1602, which contains several illustrations. One image in the copied manuscript depicts a game of chess. Two stories are embedded in this narrative in order to bring its major points to light; the one illustrated here recounts an episode in which Sayyid, the Shah of Tirmid, is checkmated by his court jester, Dalqak, and reacts angrily by throwing the chessboard at the courtier’s head. The next time the two sit down to a game, the jester anticipates the need to protect himself by covering his head with a turban of felt. The scene is identified both by the figures seated on either side of a chessboard as well as by a caption just above the painting. Its depiction suggests the importance of this story, perhaps to the patron who commissioned the manuscript.
Around 1280, Jacobus de Cessolis (1250-1322), a Dominican monk from Cessole, Northern Italy, wrote Liber de moribus Hominum et officiis Nobilium ac Popularium super ludo scacchorum (Book of the customs of men and the duties of nobles or the Book of Chess). It was written in Latin and was based on a series of sermons that he gave using chess as a framework. The manuscript uses chess pieces to symbolize different classes of medieval society and pawns each representing a different profession. It is one of the earliest allegories and moralities pertaining to chess and it began as a sermon. Probably no other work of mediaeval times was copied so much. It rivalled the Bible in popularity and number of printings. The sermon is divided into 4 books and 24 chapters. The first book deals with the origin of chess and the fourth book deals with the moves of the chessmen. The other books explain the pieces as symbolical of the feudal society. Cessolis attributed the invention of chess to Babylon during the reign of Evil-Merodach. Chess corrected the evil manners of this king and to avoid idleness. It is a version of the original Innocent Morality. In 1337, this manuscript was translated into German verse by Konrad von Ammenhusen, a monk of Stettin. In 1473, the first of many printed versions appeared in Utrecht, the Netherlands. In 1481, a second edition was printed in London. In 1493, the first Italian edition, Libro di Giuocho di Scacchi Intitolato by Costumi Deglhuomini & Degli Officii Denobili, was printed in Florence. Over 100 copies are known to exist. In 1317, Cessolis was in charge of the inquisition on Genoa.
In 1283, Libros de ajedrez, dados y tablas (Books of chess, dices and tables) was written for King Alfonso X (1221-1284), King of Castile. The manuscript was finished in Seville, Spain. It was the first encyclopedia of games in European literature. It was made up of 200 leaves. The first of the seven parts of the Alfonso manuscript is devoted wholly to chess, and contains 103 problems or endgames (88 are of Muslim origin and 15 are of European form). It also includes descriptions of several chess variants. Note that the original 13th century spelling of chess was acedrex, and not ajedrez. The original manuscript is held in the library of El Escorial, Spain (Codex T.I.6). (Source: Murray, p. 181)
Around 1295, Engreban d’Arras wrote the poem, “Ch’est li jus de Esques.” It is a 298-line verse fragment. The author compares human society to the pieces of a chess set. The chess pieces/subjects struggle together as a community. The manuscript is in the Bibliotheque National de France in Paris, No. 25566.
In 1298, Dr. von Neustadt (1250?-1312) wrote Apollonius von Tryland, a poem of 20,644 lines. In one of the verses, he wrote, “They had much entertainment. They played chess with each other: The man made a bad move, he moved one of his pawns with which he said ‘check’ to the queen. What damage did that cause? Good advice was then needed: In a short while in turn the beautiful maid responded with ‘check’ and ‘checkmate’ more than four times afterwards.” Later, Apollonius spots a chessboard and takes all the valuable chess pieces, which later causes a big battle. In the fight, Apollonius escapes, but loses a rook in the process.
In 1300, the Civis Bononiae (Citizen of Bologna) manuscript was written by an anonymous author. It contains 288 chess problems and 80 backgammon table problems. The oldest copy is preserved in the Fritzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge, MS No. 372. Numerous copies appeared in the 15th century. A later copy is in the British Museum, MS. Catalog No. Add. 9351.
In 1300, Hugo von Trimberg (1220-1313?) wrote Der Renner (the runner). It is an epic poem comprising of 24,600 verses. It is the most comprehensive didactic poem in the German language. He used the imagery of chess to address fundamental concerns of the society. A number of times in the poem, Trimberg refers to the chess game as a metaphor and analogy. One verse deals with using bread pieces to play chess on a table, and if he captures a pawn, it would not satisfy his hunger. He would rather capture a rook or the king to satisfy his hunger with the bigger bread pieces. In one of the verses, he wrote, “This world is like a deceptive image, because it has, like the chess game, kings and and queen, rooks, knights, bishops, pawns; In this way God plays a fool’s game with us, if you are able to notice that.” Trimberg refers to the devil as a master player on the chessboard of life.
In 1323, a manuscript called “Vicarism-i-chatrang u nihisn-i-new-artaxser” (Explanation of the game of Chatrang and invention of the game of nard) was written.
In 1340, Jean de Vignay (1283-1340?) of Bruges, Belgium, made a Latin to French translation of Cessolis’s manuscript, Liber de moribus hominum et officiis nobilium sive super ludo scacchorum (Book of the customs of men and the duties of nobles or the Book of Chess).
Around 1340 the Gesta Romanorum was written by an unknown author. It is a Latin collection of stories and moralities. Three chapters relate to chess.
Around 1341 “Nafa'is al-funun fi’arayis al-‘uyun,” (Treasury of the Sciences in the Brides of the Springs), a Persian encyclopedia by Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Amuli (1300-1352), mentions chess in its last three chapters. The first chapter describes the invention of chess in India. The second chapter deals with the derived games of chess, which describes five different chess variants. The third chapter is the source that first describes Timur's Great Chess (shatranj al-kabir). This is known as the Al. manuscript. (source: Murray, p. 177)
Around 1345, Giovanni Villani (1280-1348) wrote the manuscript Nuova Cronica (New Chronicles), a history of Florence, Italy. He wrote, “During these times there came to Florence a Saracen, named Buzzecca, who was the foremost master of the game of chess. At the Palace of the People in the presence of Count Guido Novello, he played three finest chess masters in Florence, simultaneously, for over an hour. Of these three games, he played two blindfold and one over the board, winning two and drawing one of the matches. The result was considered an outstanding achievement.”
In 1347, Jean Ferron made a Latin to French translation of Cessolis’s manuscript, Liber de moribus hominum et officiis nobilium sive super ludo scacchorum (Book of the customs of men and the duties of nobles or the Book of Chess).
Around 1360, the manuscript “Nuzhat arbab al-uqul fi’-sh-shatranj al-manqul” (Delight of the Intelligent in the Known Game of chess) was written. It was written by Abu Zakariya Yuhya ibn Ibrahim al-Hakim. It consists of 57 paper leaves. It is referenced as the H manuscript in the John Rylands Library (Manchester) Arabic MS. 59 (or MS 766). Its shorter title is “Kitab an-nuzhat fi’sh-shatranj” (The Book of the Delight of Chess). The manuscript tells the story that the vizier, Ayyub al-Muriyani (720?-771) of the second Abbasid Caliph, al-Mansur (714-775), had a friend that was a skilled chess player. This manuscript was brought to England from Damascus in the 18th century. It became part of the collection of J. G. Richards. In 1806, they passed into the possession of John Fiott (1783-1866), who later took the name John Lee in 1816. Nathanial Bland (1803-1865) borrowed them from John Lee for use in his preparation of his paper on Persian chess in 1850, but failed to return them. In 1866, Bland’s Oriental library was sold to Alexander Lindsay (11812-1880), the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres. The Lee manuscript passed into the Haigh Hall Library. In 1906, Lord Crawford’s Oriental manuscripts were purchased by Enriqueta Augustina Rylands (1843-1908). She then founded the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England, in memory of her husband, John Rylands (1801-1888). (source: Murray, p. 175, and Somogyi, p. 430)
In 1370, a manuscript (known as the C manuscript, Mustafa Pasha, Khedival Library catalog no. 8201) was written on chess that formerly belonged to Qaitbay (1418-1496) a sultan of Egypt. In 1880, the manuscript was analyzed by the German Orientalist Dr. Wilhelm Spitta (1853-1883), a former director of the Khedivial Library in Cairo. The manuscript is a copy of the AH manuscript, the Kitab ash-shatranj mimma'l-lafahu'l-`Adli was-Suli wa ghair-huma (Book of chess; extracts from the works of al-'Adli, as-Suli and others) by Abdul Hamid (Abd-al-Hamid I or Abdalhamid I. It consists of 157 leaves.
Around 1375, a manuscript was written with the title “Kitab anmudhaj al-qital fi la’b ash-shatrang,” (Book of the examples of warfare in the game of chess). It was originally written by Shihabaddin Abu’i-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn Yuhya ibn Abu Hajala at-Tilimsani alH-anbali (1325-1375). It consists of 89 quarto leaves in eight chapters. It is called the Man manuscript (a copy made in 1446) and is part of the John Rylands Library, Ryland Arabic MS No. 59 (Mingana Catalogue No. 767). (source: Murray. P. 176)
Around 1400, Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) wrote The Canterbury Tales, a collection of over 20 stories written in Middle English. In “The Franklin’s Tale,” Chaucer wrote, “Her friends saw that it was no alleviation, but grief for her, to roam by the sea, and planned to disport themselves somewhere else. They led her by rivers and springs and eke in other delectable places; they danced and they played at tables [backgammon] and chess.”
In 1419, a Sanskrit manuscript called the Sinhasanavatrinskia was written in India. It contains a story of a gambler talking to King Vikramaditya (a legendary emperor of ancient India) on the different games that he knows, among them being chaturamga.
In 1450 Johannes Ingold (1400-1465) wrote Das Guldin Spil (Golden Game). It was printed by Gunter Zainer in Augsburg in 1472. He writes about the 7 deadly sins, illustrating each with a game. Chess represented pride and humility.
Around 1450 Panchadandachattraprabandha mentions chess without dice. The book was a tale of king Vikramaditya (380-413 AD).
In 1450, a manuscript called Forty Chess Problems was written by John Porter.
Around 1465, a Swedish anonymous allegorical poem called Schacktavelslek was written. It depicts the chess game as the image of medieval society. It is a Swedish version and loose translation of Jacobi Cessoli’s Liber de moribus hominum et officiis nobilium sive super ludo scacchorum (Book of the customs of men and the duties of nobles or the Book of Chess). The Swedish chess allegory emphasizes moral virtue and education while making the case for national kingship and a constitutional monarchy. In this version, only four pawns instead of eight pawns are mentioned, and only briefly. The manuscript adds several Swedish events. In 1488, a copy of the manuscript was made, which is now in the National Library of Stockholm. Another copy was made in 1492 by the guardian of the Askeby abbey, which is now in Copenhagen.
In 1467, the Dominican priest and monk Francesco Colonna (1434-1527) wrote the allegory Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. There is a description of ‘living chess” with a fanciful set of names for the chessmen. While traveling among architectural ruins and through a series of gardens, the principal character, Poliphilo encounters a living chess game. Two teams dressed in gold and silver colored clothing move on a large paved chessboard. In 1499, it was first printed in Venice, Italy. In 1546, it was translated into French, Discours du Songe de Poliphile, and published in Paris. In 1592, it was translated into English, The Strife of Love in a Dream.
In 1470, The Innocent Morality was published in Cologne as part of Summa collationum, sive Communiloguium (the sum of the conferences). It was the first time that the term for chess appeared in a printed book.
In 1473, Jacobus de Cessolis’s morality book, Liber de moribus hominum et officiis nobilium super ludo scacchorum ('Book of the customs of men and the duties of nobles or the Book of Chess'), was first published in Utrecht.
In 1474 William Caxton (1422-1491) completed his translation into English of Jean de Vignay’s and Jean Ferron’s Latin to French translation of Cessolis’s manuscript. Caxton did not translate directly from the original Latin manuscript, the Liber de moribus hominum et officiis nobilium ac popularium super ludo scachorum (The Book of the Morals of Men and the Duties of Nobles and Commoners, on the Game of Chess) by Jacobus de Cessolis.
Around 1475, the poem Scachs d’amor was written. It was the first text of modern chess. Scachs d’amor is Catalan for “Chess of Love.” The complete title of this Catalan poem is Hobra intitulada scachs d’amor feta per don franci de Castellvi e Narcis vinyoles e mossen bernat fennolar sota nom de tres planets co es Marc Venus e Mercuri per conjunccio e influencia dels quals fon inventada. The poem was written by Francesch de Castellvi, Bernat Fenollar, and Narcis de Vinyoles. The manuscript was published in Valencia, Spain around 1475. The poem is conceived as a chess game between Francesch de Castellvi and Narciso Vinyoles. Castellvi represented Mars, Love, and had the red pieces (White in modern chess). Vinyoles represented Venus, the Glory, and the green pieces (Black in modern chess). Mars tries to obtain the love of Venus. Fenollar (Mercury) acts as an arbiter. The arbiter, Mossen Bernat Fenollar, comments and establishes the rules. The poem uses chess as an allegory for love. Its structure is based upon 64 stanzas, representing the 64 chessboard squares. The first stanza represents White’s move, the second stanza represents Black’s moves, and the third stanza is a comment on the rules of the arbiter. White makes 21 moves, expressed in 21 stanzas. Black makes 20 moves, expressed in 20 stanzas. The arbiter comments 20 times in 20 stanzas. There are three introductory stanzas explaining the allegory, which adds up to the sum of 64 stanzas. The manuscript (not a printed book) was discovered in 1905 by the Jesuit P. Ignasi Casanovas (1872-1936). He discovered the manuscript in the Royal Chapel of the Palau de Barcelona. It was lost during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The manuscript consisted of 13 written folia and 30 blank pages. This chess game is the first one documented with the modern rules of chess (the expanded Queen move). The game was probably never played, but invented for the poem which contained the 64 stanzas.
Castellvi (Mars) – Vinyoles (Venus), Valencia, 1475, 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 e6 8.Qxb7 Nbd7 9.Nb5 Rc8 10.Nxa7 Nb6 11.Nxc8 Nxc8 12.d4 Nd6 13.Bb5+ Nxb5 14.Qxb5+ Nd7 15.d5 exd5 16.Be3 Bd6 17.Rd1 Qf6 18.Rxd5 Qg6 19.Bf4 Bxf4 20.Qxd7+ Kf8 21.Qd8 mate.
In 1476, the first edition of Game and Playe of the Chesse was printed by William Caxton on a printing press (invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1455) while working in Bruges. It was the 3rd book printed in English, after the Bible and The Recuell of the Historyes of Troye (1474).
In 1483, his second edition of Game and Playe of the Chesse by William Caxton was printed in Westminster, with woodcuts added for illustrations. This was the first printed book in English to make extensive use of woodcuts for pictures and the first book to ever be reprinted.
Around 1490, a manuscript called Le Jeu des esches de la dame moralisé was written by an anonymous author. It is a religious allegory that tells of a lady who plays chess against the devil. The devil tempts her with notions of love in an effort to force her to make a mistake in playing. It appears in a single manuscript and is now located in the British Museum (MS Add. 15820).
In 1493, the historian Hartman Schedel (1440-1514) published the Nuremberg Chronicle, known as Schedelsche Weitchronik (Schedel’s World Chronicle), published in Nuremberg, Germany. Maps in the Chronicle were the first ever illustrations of many cities and countries. It mentions the invention of chess by the philosopher Xerxes in Babylon during the rule of Merodach, the son of Nebuchadrezzar, and illustrates the citation with a woodcut of Xerxes.
On May 15, 1495, Libre dels jochs partits dels schacs en nombre de 100, ordenat e compost per mi francesch Vicent nat en la ciutat de Segorb e criat vehi de la insigne e valerosa ciutat de Valencia" (In the name of 100 chess problems, ordered and made up of me, Francesch Vicent, born in the city of Segrob in Valencia) by Francesch Vicent (1450-1512) was published in Valencia, Spain in the Valencian language. Copies were printed by Lope de la Roca (1430?-1497) and Peter Trincher. All copies of this book are now lost. The last known copy was seen in 1811. Only the title-page has been preserved, bearing the date of May 15, 1495. A copy was in the Biblioteca Communnale in Siena, Italy, and in the library of Santa Maria de Montserrat. The copies were lost after the Spanish War of Independence when French soldiers used the old manuscripts and parchments in the manufacturing of bullets. It mentioned the first modern move of the Queen and Bishop and was a book of chess openings. The manuscript was the first treatise on modern chess. (source: Williams, “The Return of Francesch Vicent,” CHESS, Vol. 71, No. 5, Aug 2006, po. 18-19)
In 1495, Repetición de amores y arte de ajedrez con CL Juegos de partido (Discourse on Love and the Art of Chess with 150 match games) by Luis Ramirez Lucena (1465-1530) was written (published late in 1497). It was the first surviving book with the modern rules of chess. Only 8 copies are known to exist. The book was so rare that it was unknown to historians until the second half of the 19th century. The book is the first to include the old rules of chess and the new rules of chess (most notably, the movement of the Queen – de la dama). It included, among other things, analysis of eleven chess openings. Some of them are known today as the Giuoco Piano (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4), Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5) , Petroff's Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6), Bishop's Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4) , Damiano's Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6), and Scandinavian Defense or Center Counter Defense (1.e4 d5), though Lucena did not use those terms. Lucena seems to be the originator of 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5, and not Ruy Lopez, but openings are usually not named after the first person playing it.
In January 1496, 30 copies of Francesch Vicent’s book was sold.
In 1497, the first edition of Repetición de amores y arte de ajedrez con CL Juegos de partido (Discourse on Love and the Art of Chess with 150 match games) by Luis Ramirez Lucena was published in Salamanca. The book was dedicated to King Ferdinand.
In 1499, Francesco Colonna wrote Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: Strife of Love in a Dream. Poliphilo encounters a living chess game.
In 1500, the manuscript De ludo scachorum (On the Game of Chess) was written in Latin by the mathematician and Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli (1447-1517). The 96-page manuscript contains 49 pages of over 100 chess problems, drawn in red and black. The manuscript was dedicated to Isabella d’Este (1474-1539). The manuscript was originally lost, but rediscovered in 2006. In 2008, there was a plausible suggestion that the chess pieces in its illustrations were designed and/or drawn by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). The manuscript was discovered in 2006 by book historian Duilio Contin in the 22,000-volume library of the Palazzo Coronini Cronberg in Gorizia, Italy. In 1963, the owner, Count Guglielmo Coronini, bought the manuscript, along with other old books and manuscripts, from an unnamed Venetian poet and bibliophile. In February 2008, Franco Rocco suggested that the chess pieces in the diagrams were drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was a close friend of Pacioli. (source: BBC News, Feb 26, 2008)
In 1501, a Turkish manuscript was written on chess. It had a chapter on 6 openings, called Tabariyi, Iraqiya, Pharough’s fortress, goat-peg, beautiful and scientific, and wonderful and lovely.
In 1502, the Cesana manuscript called Ludi Varii was written, which includes Vicent’s work, Libre dels jochs partits dels schacs en nombre de 100, ordenat e compost per mi Francesh Vicent. The Cesena manuscript was discovered by Italian chess bibliophile Franco Pratesi in 1995 at the Biblioteca Malatestiana of Cesena. The chess problems are copied from Vicent’s lost book.
In 1503, a manuscript containing chess was compiled at Balakasri in Liva Karasi, Turkey, for the Sultan Bayezid II (1447-1512). It was an addition to the Shatranj nama-I kabir by Abu'l-Qasim Mansur Firdawsi at-Tahihal (940-1020). It is known as the F manuscript, Nuri Osmaniye, Istambul, No. 4073. It consists of 94 leaves, discovered by Dr. Schroeder in 1880 in Constantinople. (source: Murray, p. 178)
Around 1504, the Perugia (from Perugia, Italy) manuscript was published. It contains 72 modern chess compositions. It is an incomplete manuscript; almost all solutions to the problems are missing.
Around 1505, the Goettingen manuscript was published by an unknown author. It introduced other chess openings such as Philidor’s Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6), the Ponziani Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3), the Queen’s Gambit Accepted (1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4), Bird’s Opening (1.f4), and the English Opening (1.c4).
In 1507, Jacob Mennel printed a chess manuscript called Schahczabel at Costentz, written in German. It was a chess morality. In 1520, additions were made by the publisher Koebel of Oppenheim. Another addition was made in 1536 by Egenolff of Frankfurt.
In 1512, Questo libro e da imparare giocare a scachi et de li partiti was written by the Portugese apothecary (seller of medicine and drugs) Pedro Damiano (1480-1544). It was the first chess book published in Italy (published in Rome). It was published in both Italian and Spanish text. It continued the myth that chess was invented by the philosopher Xerxes in Babylon. There was not a single reference to the older chess rules or how it was played. He used the modern version of how the queen moved. The book went through 8 reprintings.
In 1513, Scacchia Ludus (The Game of Chess), a chess poem, was written by Marcus Antonius Hieronymus Vida (1485-1566), Bishop of Alba, in Latin. He is the first to mention Tower and castle (rook). It describes a chess game between the Roman gods Apollo and Mercury. His poem was a favorite of Pope Leo X. The poem inspired Sir William Jones (1746-1794) to write the poem Caissa, the goddess of chess, written in 1763.
In 1525, the chess poem, Scacchia Ludus (The Game of Chess), but without any credit to Vida.
In 1527, the chess poem, Scacchia Ludus (The Game of Chess), but with credit to Vida.
In 1531, Thomas Elyot (1490-1546) wrote The Book Named the Governor. It was a treatise on how to train statesmen. It states that chess is to be commended to sharpen a player’s intellectual faculties. “And it is the more commendable and also commodious, if the players have read the moralization o chess; and when they play do think upon it.”
In 1537, Tratto dell Origine di Firenze, by Giovanni Villani was published in Venice, Italy. It releates how the building known today as the Bargello in Florecne, was the scene of an early feat of skill in chess. In 1266, in the presence of the Podesta, Count Guido Novello, Bucecca played 3 games simultaneously, one over the board and two without looking.It was reprinted in 1559.
Around 1550, the Arabic manuscript Kitab al-Munjih fi ‘ilm al-shitranj (A book to lead to success in the knowledge of chess) was written by Abu Muhammad ibn Umar Kajina. The manuscript is now lost. In 1612, the manuscript was copied by Muhammad ibn Husam ud-Daulah.
In 1553, an Arabic manuscript was written called the Q manuscript Munich, 250. 25 Quatr. It is a manuscript of 87 leaves, and was part of the Shatranj nama-I Kabir by Firdawasi. It was in Egypt from 1553 until the Napoleonic invasion in 1798.
In 1555 Olaus Magnus (1490-1557) published Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (History of the Northern Peoples) in Rome. His book was the first comprehensive history of Scandinavia. He describes chess in the Scandinavian countries. It described Norse parents playing chess with the boyfriends of their daughters, and determining if they were good suitors by noting thier conduct during the game.
In 1557, a sermon was given by ibn Sukakir ad-Dimashqa at the mosque of Aleppo, Syria. He expounded upon a tale of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1494-1566) cheating a skilled blind player at shatranj.
In 1561 Ruy Lopez (pronounced Rue-y Lopeth) de Segura (1530-1580) wrote Libro de la invencion liberal y arte del juego del Axedrez. He wrote the book in response to Damiano's book. It contains 66 games.
In 1562, James Rowbothum made a translation of Damiano da Odemira's Libro da imparare giocare a scachi,under the title The pleasaunt and wittie play of te cheasts renewed ... Lately translated out of Italien into Frenche [by Claude Gruget] and now set forth in Englische.”
In 1564, Rabelais wrote Gargantua and Pantagruel. The fifth book of Pantagruel has a game of living chess.
In 1570, George Turberville (1540-1597) wrote Poems describing the Places and Manners of the Country and People of Russia. Earlier, he had gone to Moscow to the court of Ivan the Terrible. In his poem, he wrote, “The common game is chess, almost the simplest will/ Both give a checks and eke a mate, by practices comes their skill.” Turberville’s account and part of his poem was reprinted in Hakluyt’s Voyages, published by Richard Hakluyt (1553-1616) in 1589.
In 1575, an Arabic manuscript on chess was written by Ahmad ibn Ahmad al-Muhtar al-Hanafi al-Misri at Balat, Istanbul. It contains 90 leaves, each with a problem and solutions. It is known as the R manuscript, Rustem Pasha, Constantinople, No. 375. (source: Murray, p. 178)
In 1579, an Arabic manuscript was completed containing three treatises by Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Jamaladdin ibn Sukaikir ad-Dimashqi, preacher of the mosque al-‘Adiliya at Halab (Aleppo, in Syria). The third treatise is called “Nafhat kima’im al-ward fi tafdil ash-shatranj ‘ala’n-nard,” (The fragrance of the rose; on the superiority of chess over nard). The manuscript discusses the lawfulness of chess-playing and gives the usual legends as to the invention of chess. It is called the S manuscript, now in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Arab. Pocock 16. (source: Murray, pp. 178-179)
In 1579, Philip Sidney (1554-1586) wrote An Apology for Poetry (or, The Defense of Poesy). He wrote, “We see we cannot play at chess but that we must give names to our chessmen; and yet, me thinks, he were a very partial champion of truth that would say we lied for giving a piece of wood the reverend title of a bishop.”
In 1583, the lawyer Thomas Actius wrote a Latin chess manuscript, Forosemproniensis De Lvdo Scacchorum In Legali Methodo Tractatvs that was published in Pisa. He presented a complete description of the game. He also tried to prove, from the point of view of both canon and civil law, that was exempt from general bans of games of chance because it was a game of skill.
In 1584, Ruy Lopez's chess book was translated into Italian by Giovanni Domenico Tarsia and printed at Venice by Cornelius Arrivabene. It was called Il Giuoco de Gli Scacchi. In 1655, it was translated into French and published at Brussels. The book was dedicated to prince Giacomo Boncompagni (1548-1612), the Duke of Sora and the illegitimate son of Pope Gregory XIII.
Around 1585, Giulio Cesare (Julius Caesar) Polerio (1550-1610) translated the works of Ruy Lopez from Spanish to Italian after seeing what a bad job Tarsia did in his translation of Ruy Lopez. This is known as Codex B. Polerio's manuscripts included games by Leonardo, Boi, Ruy Lopez, Alfonso Ceron, Busnardo, and other Italian players. He wrote analysis on the Polerio (Muzio) Gambit, the Sicilian Defense, the Center Counter Defense, Two Knights Defense, Four Knights Defense, etc.
The Leon manuscript is an unfinished manuscript in Polerio’s handwriting. It was discovered by J. A. Leon bound up with a copy of Tarsia’s Italian translation of Ruy Lopez (printed in Venice in 1584) and Barozzi’s Rythmomachie manuscript (printed in Venice in 1572). The Leon manuscript consists of 32 quarto pages (eight sheets) with many annotations and corrections in Tarsia’s manuscript. It contains 46 openings or games. The book originally belonged to Edward Cheney, then sold by auction in 1886. (source: Leon, “Forty-Six Games of Chess: by Giulio Cesare Polerio, From a hitherto unpublished Manuscript With an Introduction,”British Chess Magazine, Aug 1894, pp. 317-336).
Polerio wrote a manuscript that was a translation of Ruy Lopez. This manuscript was discovered in 1854 and is located in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence. It contains 32 original games.
In 1589, Pap with a Hatchet by the English writer John Lyly (1553-1606) was published in London. It had several chess references, such as “If a Martin can play at chess as well as the nephews his Ape, he shall know what it is for a Scaddle pawn, to cross a Bishop in his own walk. Such dydoppers must be taken up, else they will not stick to check the King.” Lyly is the one who came up with the phrase, “All is fair in love and war.”
In 1590, the manuscript known as the Boncompagni-Ludovisi manuscript was written by Giulio Cesare Polerio. It is a collection of 98 openings, 12 endgames, and 38 problems with solutions (mostly from Lucena). The manuscript is dedicated to his patron, Prince Giacomo Boncompagni (1548-1612), the Duke of Sora and the illegitimate son of Pope Gregory XIII.
Another Polerio manuscript is in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. The incomplete manuscript contains a translation of the first seven chapters of the second part of Ruy Lopez. It is also dedicated to Buoncompagni. (Manuscrits Italiens No. 955).
In 1594, Polerio wrote another chess manuscript, Ordini de giuochi degli scacchi…, dedicated to some unknown person on July 31, 1594. The manuscript was made of 56 quarto leaves. It contained 40 openings and 40 problems. This manuscript is in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris (Manuscrits Italiens No. 948).
In 1597, the first English version of Vida’s Scacchia ludus poem was published. It was called Ludus scacchiæ: chesse-play. A game, both pleasant, wittie, and politicke: with certain briefe instructions therevnto belonging; translated out of the Italian into the English tongue. Containing also therein, a prety and pleasant poeme of a whole game played at chesse. It was written by G.B., printed in London by H. Jackson. It was reprinted in 1810 by Harding and Wright.
In 1597 Orazio (Horatio) Gianutio (1550-1610) of Mantia wrote Libro nel quale si tratta della maniera di giucar a scacchi, con alcuni sottilissimi partiti, published in Turin, Italy. It contains 6 openings and a few problems.
In 1599, King James VI (1566-1625) of Scotland (who would later become James I of England) wrote the Basilikon Doron, a treatise on government and advice to his sons. In it, he wrote “And as for the chess, I think it over fond, because it is over-wise and Philosophic a folly: For where all such light plays, are ordained to free men’s heads for a time from the fashious thoughts on their affairs; it by the contrary filleth and troubleth men’s heads, with as many fashious toys of the play, as before it was filled with thoughts on his affairs.” He later wrote that chess could be played in bad weather. James disliked chess because it is an overly intellectual “folly” (or he was no good at it).
A 16th century Persian manuscript (Risala-I Shatranj) was presented to the Royal Asiatic Society by the eminent Orientalist, Major David Price (1762-1835). It consists of 64 leaves (folios) about chess, of which half are occupied by paintings (chess diagrams), and the other half by text. It has been cataloged as RAS No. 211 in the library of the Royal Asiatic Society (formerly catalogued as Morley Handwritten Catalogue No. 260 – referenced by Forbes). The beginning and ending of the manuscript are lost. The manuscript includes leaves on the beneficial effects of chess, Timur’s (Tamerlane) chess (Great Chess), the invention of chess in India, relative values of the chess pieces, and some endgame decisions. The author is unknown, although Murray attributes this manuscript to Haji Khalifa (1609-1657). It is written in Naskh, a specific style of the Arabic alphabet. There are 64 diagrams of chess problems. Research by Greg Myers suggests that the manuscript formed part of a gift of manuscripts given David Price from Hugh Ross. Ross may have been given the manuscript by Robert Holford. Price later stayed briefly with Holford.
On the inside of the first leaf of the RAS manuscript is an inscription that reads "a gift of" followed by the name Robert Holford (in Persian), and directly underneath the phrase "a gift of" is another name: H. Ross. The catalog states that the name H. Ross is probably in the same handwriting as "a gift of". The manuscript was bequeathed to the RAS in 1835 by Major David Price. Price wrote a book entitled Memoirs of the Early Life and Service of a Field Officer. It mostly consists of accounts of Price's time as an officer in the East India Company, taking control of Indian land one city/fort at a time. In 1783 he met a Lieutenant by the name of Hugh Ross, who he became very fond of. He recounts several tales of bravado by Ross in which he often sustained injuries but kept fighting, and also tells of Ross' love of Persian culture and manuscripts. Price cites Ross as the reason he became involved with Persian study. Ross was killed in December 1791 in a battle while taking over a piece of Indian land in the third Anglo-Mysore War with Tipu Sulton while fighting under John Little and less directly Charles Cornwallis. Less than a month later, in January 1792, David Price discovered that Hugh Ross had left him a gift of a collection of Persian Manuscripts. In Price's memoir he states it as follows:
25th Jan. – I received from Capt. Little, a letter, enclosing a copy of my poor friend Ross’s will; wherein he devised to me his collection of Persian manuscripts, and Richardson’s Dictionary. I could not be otherwise than flattered by such a mark of regard, from an individual of his distinguished merit.
Later in the same memoir Price talks about travelling to Cambay, India in service of the East India Company in the year 1803, and the superior officer to receives him at the shore is named Robert Holford. He speaks highly of Holford's "hospitality" and states that he stayed with him for a number of days. It turns out that this Robert Holford was the uncle of Robert Staynor Holford, a wealthy landowner and collector of art who was also the founder of the Westonbirt Arboretum. The family, both uncle and nephew, were fond of collecting Persian Manuscripts. Greg Myers, who researched all this, thinks that Holford shared enjoyment over the manuscript with Price, perhaps even helping Price translate part of it, and thus his name ended up on the leaf in Persian, years after the rest of the inscription. (sources: Murray, p. 177, Brand, p. 3, Forbes, p. 78-87, and Greg Myers)
In 1600, Bhatta Nilakantha wrote the manuscript Bhagavant-Bhaskara. It is an encyclopedia of ritual, law, and politics. It has a section on chess at the end of the 5th book.
In 1604, Dr. Alessandro Salvio (1570-1640) published the Italian book Trattato. Dell'inventione et arte liberale del gioco degli scacchi del dottor Alessandro Salvio Napolitano. Diuiso in Discorsi, Sbaratti, e Partitii in Naples. It contained 31 chapters with chess openings. The first edition of Salvio’s treatise is dedicated to Fulvio di Costanzo, marchese di Corleto. A first edition of the book was later owned by the Boncompagni family. New editions of the work were published at Naples in 1612, 1618, 1634 (which included a biography of Giovanni Leonardo), and 1723.
In 1606, Giovanni Rossi published Libro da Imparare a Giocare a Scacchi in Bologna. There is a copy of it in the British Museum.
In 1607, Giovanni Rossi published Mod Facile per imparar presto de giocar a Scacchi in Bologna. It included the first part of Damiano’s work.
In 1610-1611, William Shakespeare (1564-1616) wrote a play called The Tempest. It may be the last play that Shakespeare wrote. In Act 5, Scene 1, Prospero gathers everyone around and dramatically draws back a curtain to reveal his daughter, Miranda, and Prince Ferdinand playing chess in the final scene. Miranda accuses Ferdinand of cheating, but he says that he wouldn’t cheat her for the whole world.
In 1612, a Persian manuscript was written (copied) in Delhi on chess. It is known as the Y manuscript in the British Museum, Add. 16856. It consists of 63 leaves (foils), written in neat Nestalik script, the predominant style in Persian calligraphy It is a Persian translation by Muhammad ibn Husam ud-Daulah of the Arabic work Kitab al-munjih fi ‘ilm ash-shatranj, (A book to lead to success in the knowledge of chess). by Abu Muhammad ibn Umar Kajina. It is divided into 14 chapters (Bab). It was stated in the preface that Umar Kajina’s manuscript was the most useful treatise on chess. As there was, however, only one copy of it in the land, and that an incorrect one, it appeared desirable to make an abridged version of it in Persian. Husam ud-Daulah performed that task by the order of a sovereign. The manuscript tells of the story of Caliph al Walid I (668-715) who was an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 705-715. He was playing chess (shatranj) with one of his courtiers, who was a much stronger player than the Caliph, but was purposely making bad moves in order for the Caliph to win. One day, the Caliph observed this and was highly offended. He seized one of the heaviest chess pieces and hurled it at the courtier’s head saying, “May evil befall thee, base sycophant! Art thou in thy senses to play chess with me in this foolish manner?” The manuscript says that the caliph broke his opponent’s head with a blow with his firzan (equivalent to the modern Queen). The manuscript was in possession by Col. William Yule (1764-1839). An abstract of the work was given by Nathaniel Bland in his “Persian Chess,” published in London in 1850. (sources: Murray, p. 179 and p. 193, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 1881, p. 490, and Bland, Persian Chess, 1850, pp. 18-25)
In 1612, Alessandro Salvio wrote La Scacchaide Tragedia, a chess tragedy that was published by Lazaro Scorrigio in Naples. It was re-published in 1618.
In 1614, the Jacobean chess-writer Arthur Saul (1570?-1617) published Famous game of Chesse-play in London. It classified different kinds of mate, including stalemate and fool's mate. The was the first chess book to be written by an Englishman. It was printed by Thomas Snodham for Roger Jackson, and was to be sold at his shop near Fleetstreet-Conduit. It was re-printed in 1618 and 1652.
In 1616, Augustus, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg (Gustavus Selenus) (1579-1666), wrote Das Schach-oder Koenig-Spiel (Chess of the King's Game). It was published in Leipzig. It was the first German instructive chess book. Much of it was a translation of Tarsia's Italian version of Ruy Lopez's book.
In 1617, the priest Pietro Carrera (1573-1647) wrote and published Il Gioco degli Scacchi (The Game of Chess), subdivide into eight books. This was the first book ever printed in Militello in Sicily on request of the Princes of Butera, by Giovanni Rosso from Trento.
In 1618, Famous game of Chesse-play (1614) by the Jacobean chess-writer Arthur Saul was reprinted.
In 1619, Gioachino Greco (1600-1634) started keeping a manuscript of tactical positions and chess games, and for his patrons, he made extracts from this collection. Some of his manuscripts contained only problems (as many as 19 problems), while others contained a history of the game, explanation of the pieces and how they move, and complete games. The normal method of castling was not adopted until 1623, and some countries recognized castling; others did not. At least 20 copies of his manuscripts are known.
On February 12, 1620, Greco wrote (scribbled) a chess manuscript, known as the Corsini manuscript. He dedicated the manuscript to Monsignor Corsino di Casa Minutoli Tegrimi. On the outside of the yellow leather covers are the Corsini arms. The title is ‘Trattato Del Nobilissimo Gioco De Scacchi.’
In June 1620, Greco wrote his next manuscript, called the Casa Orsini (House of Orsini) manuscript. The manuscript is dedicated to the Cardinal of Casa Orsini, Allessandro Orsini (1592-1626). He was created a cardinal in 1615 by Pope Paul V. Cardinal Orsini was a patron of Galileo.
In late 1620, Greco dedicated another manuscript to Monsignor (later Cardinal on April 19, 1621 and Archbishop in 1626) Francesco Boncompagni (1592-1641) of Naples, and to Cardinal Sauelli.
Around 1620, Thomas Middleton (1580-1627) wrote a play called Women Beware Women. It was first published in 1657. Chess is used as a metaphor in Act II, scene ii this play. The rooks were called dukes.
In 1621, Greco wrote a manuscript now called the Lorraine manuscript, which he dated July 5, 1621, but the cover is stamped 1619 in Roman numerals. It was one of the Florentine chess manuscripts. The binding was embellished by the coat of arms of Philip III (1605-1665), the King of Naples.
On July 5, 1621, Greco wrote a chess manuscript for the Duke Enrico of Lorraine (1563-1624) in Nancy.
In 1622, Guillaume Polydore Ancel of Nancy translated one of Greco’s manuscripts into French. The manuscript was dedicated to the Duke of Lorraine.
In 1623, Greco left copies of his chess manuscript to Sir Francis Godolphin (1605-1667) and Nicholas Mountstephen of Ludgate, London. It was in London that Greco developed the idea to record entire games, rather than chess positions, for study and inclusion in his manuscripts. Many of the games were not actually played by him, but he probably composed them as good examples of tactical play to teach his students. If they were played, Greco would have played against nobility and wealthy patrons, and he did not wish to document their names as losers.
In 1623, Greco published several manuscripts in London. They were written in Italian, but with an English title. The longest version, written for Nicholas Montstephen, had 429 pages, which included extracts from the works of Ruy Lopez and Salvio. The moves of White were in red; the moves of Black were in black. One of Greco’s manuscripts published in London later came into possession by George John Thicknesse-Touchet (1783-1837), the 20th Baron Audley, who was a chess book collector.
In 1623, Greco adopted today’s method of castling in his manuscripts. The Italians called this type of castling (castling short Kg1 and Rf1, or castling long Kc1 and Rd1) “alla Calabrista” after Greco. At the time, the Italian method of castling, called free castling, was to put the rook and king on any of the intervening squares. Greco also documented a player having two queens after a pawn made it to the 8th rank. Some variations in some countries did not allow a player to have more than one queen at any one time.
Greco returned to Paris (Parigi) in 1624 where he rewrote his manuscript collection to reflect his new ideas, intending to give the manuscripts to patrons as presents. He eliminated the longer and less attractive games, and added more brilliancies. One of his manuscripts, published in Paris in 1624, shows handwriting of the dedication differing from all his other manuscripts. However, the writing of the text is in the same careless scribble as his other manuscripts.
In 1624, Thomas Middleton wrote a play called A Game at Chess. Chess was used to represent the intrigue of the Anglo-Spanish conflict. This comic satirical play was first stage in August 1624 by the King’s Men at the Globe Theatre. It was notable for its political content. It was an allegory of the conflict between Great Britain (the White pieces) and Spain (the Black pieces). The play was stopped after 9 performances after becoming the greatest box-hit of early modern London. Middleton and the actors were arrested, reprimanded, and fined. Middleton never wrote another play after that. The crime was that it was illegal to portray any modern Christian king on the stage.
In 1625, Greco published a manuscript in Paris that was bound in Morocco leather. It consisted of a title page, then the dedication, followed by a history of the game and description of the men and their moves. The handwriting is very set, square, and beautiful. After that, the handwriting changes, getting more and more careless to the end.
Nearly all of Greco’s manuscripts were dedicated to important patrons, and were frequently written by a copyist. The tone of the work varied to suit the taste of the person addressed. One of his manuscripts was entitled: ‘Trattato del Nobilissimo et Militare Essercitio de Scacchi.’ The manuscript was intended for a military officer of high rank, but his name was not mention in the dedication. This work, although written in Italian, was never published in Italian, but many manuscript copies are in existence. Greco’s earliest manuscripts were in poorly written and filled with bad grammar. Later manuscripts improved in form and grammar. Some scholars suggest that there was such a difference in text and various signatures that it may be doubtful whether all the known manuscripts supposedly written by Greco are actually by him. When a manuscript was intended for a wealthy or powerful patron, Greco had the beginning of the treatise calligraphed and then he wrote the body of the text. Mistakes occur in the calligraphed parts, which experts say indicated that they were written from dictation. His manuscripts usually contained a dedication; a sonnet; an explanation of the antiquities and invention of the game; the shapes, names, and places of the chessmen; how the pieces and pawns moved; worth of the chess pieces; observations in playing the game; chess terms; the laws of chess; and the rules of chess in different countries. It is quite likely that other manuscripts still remain unknown.
In 1630, an unknown Neapolitan chess player wrote a chess manuscript. It contained 19 games attributed to Giovanni Domenico d’Arminio, a leading player in the Naples chess academy.
In 1634, Dr. Alessandro Salvio (1570-1640) re-published the 1604 Italian book Trattato dell’ invention et arte liberale del Gioco de Scacchi in Naples. Salvio recorded Greco’s death in 1633 in this book. Salvio also wrote Il Puttino, altramente detto al Cavaliero erranted del Salvio; Discorsa sopra il gioco de’Scacchi, con la sua apologia il Carrera.
In 1635, Pietro Carrera using an alias, published the Risposta di Valentino Vespaio contro l'apologia di Alessandro Salvio ("Valentino Vespaio's answer against Alessandro Salvio's explanation"), where he debated the accusations and criticisms made against him from Salvio about chess.
In 1640, a second edition of Arthur Saul’s original 1614 chess book, The Famous Game of Chesse-Play, Being a Princely Exercise; Wherin the Learner May Profit More by Reading of this Small Book, Then by Playing of a Thousand Mates. Now Augmented of Many Materiall Things Formerly Wanting, and Beautified with a Three-fold Methode, Viz. of the Chesse-men, of the Chesse-play, of the Chesse-lawes was published in London by Joseph Barbier and Thomas Paine for John Jackson. It contained the first mention of the Scholar’s mate (1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 d6 4.Qxf7 mate).
Around 1650, Dr. Marco Aurelio Severino (1580-1656) wrote a manuscript called La filisofia overo il perche degli scacchi (The Philosophy of Chess). He wrote that chess developed from another board game called rithmomachia (the philosopher’s game). He listed 30 points of similarity between the two games. His manuscript was published posthumously in Naples in 1690.
In 1652, Famous game of Chesse-play (1614) by the Jacobean chess-writer Arthur Saul was reprinted.
Around 1653, David Le Clerc (1591-1654), also known as Davidis Clerici, wrote the manuscript Oratio de latrunculorum ludo. He ascribed the invention of chess to the Persians. The manuscript was published in Amsterdam in 1687.
In 1653, Jean-Francois Sarrazin (Sarasin) (1611-1654) wrote Oeuvres in Paris. There were 16 pages devoted to chess and the opinions on the name and the game of chess. He wrote that the bishops (le fous) were originally called Archers. He traced where the word chess came from. The book was printed in 1656, reprinted in 1658, and 1683.
In 1654, the German scholar and diplomat Adam Olearius (1603-1671) wrote a book called, Persianischer Rosenthal, published in Hamburg. It was a poor translation of the Persian poet Saadi (Sa’di) Shirazi’s (1210-1292) 1258 manuscript, Gulistan (the Rose Garden). His translation had an elephant that could traverse the chessboard to become a Queen. Or, an elephant that takes five pieces becomes a Queen.
In 1655, a Ruy Lopez manuscript was translated from Italian to French and published in Brussels. It was once owned by G. J. Tuchet, the son of Lord Audley.
In 1656, Oeuvres by an Jean-Francois Sarrazin (Sarasin) (1611-1654) was published in Paris. It traced the Latin word scacchi to echecs and chess. The book was printed in 1656, reprinted in 1658, and 1683.
In 1656, after Greco’s death, his manuscripts were condensed in a book by the English Francis Beale (1620?-1670?) in London and published by Henry Herringman (1628-1704). The engraved illustrations were done by Peter Stent (1613-1665). Stent ran one of the biggest printmaking businesses of his day. Greco’s work was published under the title, The Royall Game of Chesse-Play, sometimes The Recreation of the late King, with many of the Nobility. Illustrated With almost on hundred Gambetts. Being the study of Biochimo [sic] the famous Italian. The late king was Charles I (1600-1649) and a drawing of his head appeared on the title page. The book was dedicated to the honorable Montagu Bertie (1608-1666), 2nd Earl of Lindsey and contains a long (124 lines) poetical address (Upon Chesse-play) to Dr. D.S. Budden, who translated the book from Italian to English. The book contained 94 gambits (gambetts). The book was the first to use the verb castle. The book was reissued in 1750, and again in 1819 (with remarks by William Lewis).
In 1664, Charles Cotton (1630-1687) published The Compleat Gamester, or, Instructions how to play at billiards, trucks, bowls, and chess… It went through many editions. The chess chapter was entitled “The Warlike Game at CHESS.” It said that chess was a royal game and more difficult to be understood than any other game.
In 1669, the first French edition of Greco’s book, Le jeu des eschets, was published in Paris by Nicolas Pepingue. It was republished in 1707, 1713, 1714, and 1741.
In 1669, Eberhard Welper (1590-1664) wrote Das Zeit kurtzende Lust-und Spiel-Haus (The time-consuming pleasure of the game house). It first appeared in 1669, but subsequently revised and modernized to include other games. It included two engravings showing the chess villa Stoepke and two people playing chess.
In 1673, there was a re-issue of Arthur Saul’s chess book, The Famous Game of Chesse Play. It was published in London, printed by William Miller at the Gilded Acron in St. Paul’s Church-Yard.
In 1675, Benjamin Asperling de Rarogne (1650?-1710?) may have written Traitté du Jeu Royal des échets and published in Lausanne by the printer David Gentil (1643-1703). It is known as the Lausanne treatise. The manuscript did not have the name of the author, but used the letters B.A.D.R.G.S as the author. This may have stood for Benjamin Asperling de Rarogne, Gentilhomme Suisse. Openings were classified in an orderly way for the first time. Only two known copies are known to exist. One of these is in the Royal Library at The Hague. The other copy was in the library von der Lasa.
In 1683, the Italian Dr. Francesco Piacenza (1637-1687) wrote I Campeggiamenti nell Scacchi ossia nuova disciplina d'attacchi, difese e partiti del giuoco nello stile antico, che nel nuovo arciscacchiere, stratagemmi ed invenzioni (new discipline of attacks, defenses, and openings of the game). It was 136 pages and published in Turin, Italy.
In 1687, the manuscript Oratio de Latrunculorum ludo by David Le Clerc (1591-1654) was published in Amsterdam.
In 1687, Davidis Clerici (1591-1654) wrote the manuscript Oratio de Latrunculorum ludo. He ascribed the invention of chess to the Persians.
In 1689, the English orientalist, Thomas Hyde (1636-1703) published Mandragorias, seu Historia shailudii (History of Chess). This was the first scholarly account of the history of chess. He documented correspondence chess games between Venetian and Croation merchants as early as 1650.
In 1689, Jacques le Febvre (Jacobus Faber Stapulensis) published Le jeu des eschets, traduit de l’italien de Gioachino Greco, Calabrois in Paris. It was a translation from Italian to French of Greco’s book. He also published the manuscript Rithmimachie ludus, a game played on a board resembling a chess board.
In 1690, La filisofia overo il perche degli scacchi (The Philosophy of Chess), by Marco Aurelio Severino (1580-1656), was published in Naples.
In 1694, Thomas Hyde published De Ludis Orientalibus Libri duo (On oriental games, book II). The book combined two works of Hyde: Mandragorias, seu Historia shahiludii (History of Chess), and Historia Nerdiludii (History of Nard).
In 1697, Barthelemy d’Herbelot (1625-1695) wrote Bibliotheque Orientale, published in Paris. At the time, it was the most complete reference work about Islamic history. He attributed the invention of chess to the Persian Buzurge Mihiro. He wrote that the word Rokh in the Persian language signified a valiant hero seeking after military adventures, and that’s why it was introduced in the game of chess.
In 1713, the printer and bookseller Claude Robustel (1680?-1740) published Greco’s Le jeu des Eschets, in Paris. It was 343 pages. It was re-printed in 1714.
In September 1733, in the Craftsman newspaper, there appeared a paper with the title of A Short Essay on the Game of Chess. In reply, Rev. Lewis Rou, pastor of the Huguenot Church in New York, wrote Critical Remarks upon the letter to the Craftsman, dated December 13, 1734. The manuscript, now lost, is the oldest reference to chess in the New World. (source: New York Times, Aug 2, 1902, p. 8)
In 1735, Captain Joseph Bertin (1695-1736) wrote The Noble Game of Chess. Containing Rules and Instructions for the Use of those who have already a little Knowledge of this Game. It was printed in London by H. Woodfall. It was the first worthwhile chess book in the English language. It contained 78 pages with opening analysis, 26 games, 12 endings, and useful advice about the middlegame. Among his rules of chess, he wrote, “I wish I could give rules to avoid oversights.” The book was sold only at Slaughter’s Coffee House in St. Martin’s Lane.
In 1736, Scacchia ludus or, the game of chess. A Poem. Written originally in Latin by Marcus Hieronymus Vida, … Translated into English by Mr. Erskine. With a short introductory essay on the game of chess; and a translation of Via’s three pastoral eclogues was published in London. It had parallel Latin and English texts.
In 1737, Philipp Stamma (1705-1755) published Essai sur jeu des echecs (test on the game of chess) in Paris. It was a book containing 100 endgames with diagrams. It was the first book to use algebraic chess notation. The book brought the Middle Eastern concept of the endgame to the attention of Europe and helped revive European interest in the study of the endgame.
In 1745, Philipp Stamma published his Noble Game of Chess in London. It contained 100 endgames and 74 opening variations.
In 1748, at the age of 22, Francois-Andre Danican Philidor (1726-1795) published his Analyze du Jeu des Echecs (Analysis of the Game of Chess) in London. It was one of the most popular chess books of all time and made Philidor and the publishers wealthy. His book was the first chess book to be translated into Russian. This was the first book that organized the chess openings. He was the first to number each move and its reply with the same number.
In 1777, another French edition of Philipp Stamma’s Essai sur jeu des echecs was published in Utrecht, the Netherlands. A poem of chess of about 160 lines was added to the book.
Around 1790, an Arabic manuscript was written in Constantinople. It has no title. It is known as the Z manuscript of Abd-al-Hamid I, Constantinople, No. 561. It consists of 46 leaves. It names al-Hakim as the author in the opening sentence. The manuscript is based upon the works of al-Adli and as-Suli. The introduction contains a large number of stories relating to chess. (source: Murray, pp. 175-176)
In 1750, another edition of Greco’s book was published, entitled, Chess made Easy, or the Games of Gioachino Greco the Calabrian, with additional games and openings, illustrated with remarks and general rules….
In 1752, a French edition of Greco was published in London. Thomas Jefferson owned a copy of this French edition.
In 1763, Sir William Jones (1746-1794) wrote the poem Caissa, the goddess of chess.
In 1763, Giambattista Lolli (1698-1769) wrote Osservazioni teorico-pratiche sopra il giuoco degli scacchi (Theoretical-practical views on the game of chess). It was published in Bologna in the printing office of Thomas Aquinas. It was one of the first references to the tem fianchetto, flank attack.
In 1766, Carlo Cozio (1715-1780) included several of Greco’s games in his treatise, Il giuoco degli scacchi, for the purpose of pointing out errors in the games. His book, in two volumes, was about 700 pages.
In 1784, a German edition of Greco was published by Moses Hirschel (1754-1823), in Breslau. A second edition was published in Leipzig in 1795. The title of the books was Das Schach des Herrn Giochimo Greco Calabrois und die Schachspiel Geheimniße des Arabers Philipp Stamma übersezt, verbeßert und nach einer ganz neuen Methode zur Erleichterung der Spielenden umgearbeitet.
In 1795, a Turkish manuscript was written on chess. It consists of 150 leaves with 128 chess problems and 182 Turkish draughts problems. There are no solutions. It is is called the Berlin manuscript, from the Berlin Royal Library, Landberg, No. 806. (source: Murray, p. 181). In 1796, Francisco Mendez wrote Typographia Espanola, published in Madrid. It mentions that the Vicent chess book Libre dels jochs partits dels schacs en nombre de 100, ordenat e compost per mi francesch Vicent nat en la ciutat de Segorb e criat vehi de la insigne e valerosa ciutat de Valencia" (In the name of 100 chess problems, ordered and made up of me, Francesch Vicent, born in the city of Segrob in Valencia) was part of the Libreria del Monasterio de Monserrate (library of the monastery of Montserrat), in Barcelona.
In 1796, a modern Persian manuscript was written called Sardarnama (“Book of Commanders”) by Shir Muhammad-Khan. It was written for Husainaddin-khan Bahadur. In 1810, the manuscript was in the possession of Henry George Keene (1781-1864). In 1884, the Bodleian library bought it at a Sotheby’s sale. It is called the Oxf. Manuscript of the Bodleian library, Persian e. 10. (source: Murray, p. 65 and 181).
In 1799, A. Curnock wrote The Theory of Chess, published by Bagster in London. It was a small octavo of 107 pages. He argued that most of the chess pieces were wrongly named. He wrote that it was ridiculous that a solider (pawn) be turned into a Queen, or a Bishop being engaged in a field of battle, or a Rook (Castle) being handed about like a portmanteau (suitcase).
In January 1802, the Philadelphia newspaper Aurora General Advertiser advertised a subscription for a Philadelphia edition of the English translation of Philidor's Analyse du jeu des echecs. It was to be published by James Humphreys (1748-1810) and Joseph Groff, but the American edition did not appear until 1826.
In 1802, the first American book devoted solely to chess, Chess Made Easy: new and comprehensive rules for playing the game of chess, was published, printed, and sold in Philadelphia by James Humphreys (1748-1810). It is a reprint of an earlier London edition of Philidor's Analyse du jeu des echecs. It contained 97 pages. The American book also contained Benjamin Franklin's essay, The Morals of Chess.
In 1802, Les Stratagemes Des Echecs was published in Paris and Strasbourg. The author was Alfred de Montigny. The book is about chess with hand-painted engravings of chess positions.
In 1811, the Monastery of Montserrat in Barcelona was destroyed, and most of the library’s treasures, including rare chess books and manuscripts, including the Vicent chess book, were lost.
In September 1813, Jacob Henry Sarratt (1772-1819) translated Alessandro Salvio's 1723 reprint and published The Works of Damiano, Ruy Lopez, and Salvio on the Game of Chess. On page 209, Sarratt wrote that Salvio got the opening 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O from Signor Muzio (the person was Mutio, not Muzio), who commonly defeated Don Geronimo Gascio with this opening. Sarratt then called it Muzio's Gambit, when it really was Polerio's Gambit. Also, Salvio never stated that he got this opening from Muzio. Sarrat provided a poor translation. Salvio wrote that Signor Mutio (not Muzio) d'Alessandro, a third-class player in the Naples Academy, did see that Girolamo (Geronimo) Cascio, a priest from Piazza, Sicily, did play the move order, with the additional note that it was with free castling, also called "Italian method" of castling, where the White king ends up on the h1 square instead of the g1 square.
In 1816, an English translation was made of Montigny’s Les Strategemes des echecs (Stratagems of Chess , published in London. A second edition was published in 1817.
In 1817, William Lewis (1787-1870) wrote Oriental Chess or Specimens of Hindoostanee Excellence in that Celebrated Game. It was published in London in two volumes.
In 1818, William Lewis published Stamma on the Game of Chess; Containing Numerous Openings of Games, and One Hundred Critical Situations in London. It was printed by W. H. Reid, Whitehall, London. In 1819, a second edition was published.
In 1819, William Lewis translated and edited Gioachino Greco on the Game of Chess: Translated from the French, to which are added, numerous remarks, critical and explanatory. The book was reprinted in 1833, and remained the standard English “Greco” edition until Hoffman published The Chess Games of Greco in 1900.
In 1909, Esther Singleton (1865-1930) wrote a history of Dutch settlers in America called Dutch New York. On page 297, she mentions that chess was among the pleasure of the age in 17th century Dutch New York. This would indicate that chess was played in America in the 1600s from some early manuscript.
Adams, Power Play: The Literature and Politics of chess in the Late Middle Ages, 2013
Bland, “On the Persian Game of Chess,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol 13, 1852, pp. 1-70 (read June 19, 1847)
Bland, Persian Chess, 1850
Cazaux and Knowlton, A World of Chess: Its Development and Variations through Centuries and Civilizations, 2017
Cohen, Sarah (batgirl), “The Printing Press,” - http://www.edochess.ca/batgirl/printing.html
Constable, “Chess and Courtly Culture in Medieval Castile: The Libro de ajedrez of Alfonso X, el Sabio,” Speculum, Vol. 82, No. 2, Apr 2007, pp. 301-347
Eales, Chess: The History of a Game, 1985
Forbes, Observations on the Origin and Progress of Chess, 1855
Forbes, The History of Chess, 1860
Gamer, “The Earliest Evidence of Chess in Western Literature: The Einsiedeln Verses,” Speculum, Vol, 29, No. 4, Oct 1954, pp. 734-750
Garzon, The Return of Francesch Vicent (El regreso de Francesch Vicent): The History of the Birth and Expansion of Modern Chess, 2005
Golombek, A History of Chess, 1976
Jones, “On the Indian Game of Chess,” Asiatic Researches, 1790, pp. 159-165
MacDonnell, “The origin and early history of chess,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 30, 1898, pp. 117-148
Mingana, Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1934
Monte, The Classical Era of Modern Chess, 2014
Murray, A History of Chess, 1913
Myers, Greg, RAS MS 211 email notes, 2018
O’Sullivan, Chess in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age, 2012
Robson, “A Chess Maqama in the John Rylands Library”
Shenk, The Immortal Game, 2006
Somogyi, “The Arabic Chess Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 1959
Storey, Persian Literature, 1977
Van der Linde, “On the Literature of Chess,” Chess Monthly, vol. 3, 1881
Wall, “al-Adli,” - http://www.oocities.org/siliconvalley/lab/7378/aladli.htm
Wall, “Earliest Chess Books,” - http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/oldtexts.htm
Wall, “Earliest Chess References, “ - http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/Earliest.htm
Wall, “Greco,” http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/Greco.htm
Wall, “Lewis Rou and the Lost Manuscript,” - http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/rou_lewis.htm
Wall, “Literature and Chess” - http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/chess_literature.htm
Wall, “Polerio” - http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/polerio.htm
Wall, “Scachs d’amor,” - http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/scachs_damore.htm
Wall, “Shatranj,” - http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/Shatranj.htm
Westerveld, The Poem Scachs d’amor (1475), First Text of Modern Chess, 2015
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