Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The History of Chess, part 1

I'm going to be writing a few articles about the history of chess, here is part 1.

Back in the 1600s, people played like you probably played when you were a novice. You brought out the queen immediately, always liked to give checks, etc. This was known as the "Italian School". It was all inspired by Gioacchino Greco (1600-1634), who was the leading attacking of those days. Here is a sample of his play.

At this time, no one was able to defend and the attacker always won, leading people to believe that this was the correct way to play. This changed only in the mid - 1700s, when Francois - Andre Danican Philidor (1726-1795) took up the game. He beat the leading player Stamma in a match in 1747, and was known as the world #1.

He went on to publish a manual, which contained certain, general principles to play by. He was the first to do this. He was the first to make a positional plan based on pawns. He said to put pawns in front, and pieces in back, giving this position as an example.

He countered the Italian School by saying that you should never start an attack until the pawns are supported. This was a significant step in chess understanding, but no one else could understand Philidor, as he was simply too far ahead of his time. Because of this, people kept playing in the Italian style.

Philidor died in 1795, and there was no world #1 for a while. In the 1820s, the candidates were Alexander Louis Deschapelles and William Lewis. Their students, Louis Charles de la Bourdonnais and Alexander McDonnell, were then the leaders after the other 2 passed their prime. They played a series of 6 matches, which was won by a combined score by La Bourdonnais with 45 wins, 27 draws, and 13 draws. The 16th game was the most famous of the match.

An amazing finish! La Bourdonnais showed that he was clearly the strongest player in the world. Unfortunately, both players died within 6 years after the match, so yet again there was no strongest player in the world.

That's it for part 1! Part 2 coming out soon!

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