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Most everyone in the world has heard of the game of chess, but what not everyone knows is that there is an entire day dedicated to the celebration of this wonderful pastime! 

A game of strategy and wits, chess has long been considered to be the thinking man’s game. From its early days in India to everywhere in the world today, chess is a wonderful game to play anytime, anywhere and with almost anyone. 

History of International Chess Day

Invented in India in the fifth century, this board game was originally named “Chaturanga”. Chess is likely one of the oldest games of this era. After the development of the game in India, it eventually spread to Persia. 

When the Arabs later conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently spread to Southern Europe. In Europe, the game had evolved into roughly what is its current form by the 15th century. It went through some extensive development in Europe. By the late 15th century, it had survived a series of prohibitions and Christian Church sanctions to almost take the shape of the modern game as most people know it today. 

Modern history saw reliable reference works, competitive chess tournaments and exciting new variations of the game. These factors added to the game’s popularity, further advanced by reliable timing mechanisms (first introduced in 1861), effective rules and charismatic players. 

The modern form of chess, with 204 black and white (or other opposite colors) squares and 32 black and white pieces (16 for each team) has been well enjoyed by amateurs and professionals, children and adults, men and women for many years. 

Chess remains a highly popular pastime among the general populace all over the world. A 2012 survey found that chess players seem to make up one of the largest communities in the world. In fact, at least 605 million adults all over the globe play chess on a regular basis. Now that’s a lot of chess! 

The first modern chess tournament was held in London in 1851 and won by German Adolf Anderssen. On July 20, 1924 at the eighth summer Olympic games in Paris, France, the FIDE (World Chess Federation) was founded. 

Then in 1966, on the same day as the founding of the FIDE, International Chess Day began. The idea to celebrate the day came through UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Now, there are chess tournaments that are put on all over the world on this particular day. This day has been celebrated in as many as 178 countries, and a resolution officially recognizing it was signed by the United Nations in 2019. 

People all over the world are ready to celebrate International Chess Day! 

How to Celebrate International Chess Day

When making plans or considering ways to celebrate International Chess Day, try out these ideas: 

Play (or Learn to Play) the Game of Chess

Maybe the first thing to try would be to find a chess mate to play the game with. For those who have never played (or it’s been a long time!), try going out and learning how to play. Ask a friend to give lessons, or get some instructions online, then find someone to face off with. 

If a friend can’t be found in person, try playing chess online. Lots of computer programs and apps exist on almost every skill level, from novice to expert. Join in an online chess game to brush up on those skills. 

Join a Chess Club

Most cities have one or more chess clubs. They can be found in middle schools and high schools, in local community centers or sports clubs, and even high winning competitions. Take a look around the city and locate a local chess group or club. Go play a game and maybe pick up some new chess moves along the way! 

Organize a Human Chess Game

For a fun Saturday or Sunday event, call friends and family (at least 32 are needed!) over for a picnic and try organizing a human chess game at the park! An easy way to make it work is to use colored tee shirts with game piece names on them to identify who is playing what piece. 

Celebrate International Chess Day with Food

Have fun making chess piece shaped cookies for the chess lover in your life, or baking a checkered cake that can be decorated as a chess board! 

If throwing a chess based party for the day, create fun and crafty foods, such as a chess board made out of light and dark square crackers. Add mini cheese balls with an olive on top–stabbed with a toothpick– to create the chess pieces! 

Watch a film About Chess 

In between games of chess, see about catching a flick that revolves around the game of the day: 

  • Searching for Bobby Fischer, 1993. Based on the true story of Josh Waitzkin’s exploration in the world of chess who went on to become an international master. 
  • Queen of Katwe, 2016. Based on the real life of Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi, who grew up in the slums of Katwe and overcame adversity to play on an international level. 
  • The Luzhin Defense, 2000. A romantic drama about a mentally tormented chess player who travels from Russia to Italy to compete in tournaments but is overcome by stress and anxiety. 

No matter what kind of chess-based activities are indulged in, whether watching people play a chess game (in person or online), playing a game, or just learning about it, get caught up in the wonders of the sport on International Chess Day!

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