The History of Chess in Fifty Moves
The History of Chess in Fifty Moves
The History of Chess in Fifty Moves The History of Chess in Fifty Moves The History of Chess in Fifty Moves The History of Chess in Fifty Moves The History of Chess in Fifty Moves The History of Chess in Fifty Moves

* Book Type:

Not Available Online
Publisher: Firefly Books

Author Statement: Bill Price
Audience: Trade
Specs: 150 color and archival photographs, further reading, ribbon marker, index
Pages: 224
Trim Size: 6 3/4" X 9" X 15/16"
Language code 1: eng
Publication Date: 20150807
Copyright Year: 2015
Price: Select Below


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The History of Chess in Fifty Moves

The people and events that shaped the "game of kings."

The History of Chess in Fifty Moves recounts the 1,500-year history of the game of royals, from its ancient beginnings to Deep Blue, Kasparov and internet chess.

As stand-alone stories or in sequence, the 50 chapters explain how chess has changed, adapted, and thrived through the centuries. It reveals the sublime players, the controversies, the great tournaments and upsets, the victories... nothing is overlooked.

Entertaining and faithful text descriptions, artwork reproductions, archival photographs, callout boxes, quotations of interest, and chessboard diagrams bring chess's colorful history to life.

The stories cover the globe's chessboards and the game's generations of players, including:

  • The Turk, the automaton hoax that fooled royalty
  • Theories on the origin of chess
  • The longest match
  • The Polgar sisters
  • The decline of Boris Spassky
  • The Bobby Fischer phenomenon
  • The Soviet invasion
  • Chess, codebreaking and Bletchley Park
  • The female Soviet, Vera Menchik
  • The first official chess Olympiad
  • Phillip Stamma notates chess
  • The Da Vinci connection
  • Capablanca versus Alekhine
  • The Internet changes everything.

For chess players at all levels, The History of Chess in Fifty Moves is an exciting treat they will return to again and again.


Bill Price is a regular contributor to many international publications and popular reference books. His published works include Tutankhamun: Egypt's Most Famous Pharaoh, History's Greatest Decisions and Fifty Foods That Changed the Course of History.



Anybody who does not play chess must wonder what all the fuss is about. On the surface, it is a simple game, played with 32 pieces on a board of 64 squares and with rules that children can master in a matter of minutes. But hidden beneath this facade of simplicity is a game of bewildering complexity. This is no doubt the reason why so many people find the game so fascinating and why, for some, that fascination can become an obsession. It may be easy to learn the moves and the object of the game may be clear enough -- to win by checkmating the opponent's king -- but chess also has an extraordinary capacity for variation that could not possibly be unraveled in a lifetime of study. Over the course of the following 50 chapters, we take a trip through the history of chess to shed some light on this remarkable game, on how it arose, evolved, and arrived at where it is today. In doing so, we may not get to understand how to play the game any better, but at least we might get some idea of how it got to be the way it is.


The book is arranged as a series of moves, taking us on a tour through the history of the game in a roughly chronological order, though chess history has progressed more in the way that a knight moves than a pawn -- backward and sideways as well as forward and with forks and jumps rather than in a straight line. So, be prepared to take the odd backward step in order to take the next few forward as we begin our tour with the origins of chess, or what it is possible to say about its origins, given that they are not known with any great certainty.

What we can say with a little more confidence is that the game we play today evolved out of the ancient Indian game of chaturanga, played with counselors and elephants rather than queens and bishops, but nevertheless a clear forerunner of modern chess. From there we follow the game as it moves westward on the tides of history and first arrives in Europe with Islamic invaders. Once chess had crossed the religious divide between Muslims and Christians, it would become a fashionable pastime in the royal palaces of Medieval Europe, evolving into the game as it is played today and gradually emerging into wider society.

From there, we look at how chess was transformed from a casual pastime into an international sport and examine the lives and careers of the greatest players of the 19th and 20th centuries: of Paul Morphy, Wilhelm Steinitz, and Emanuel Lasker, and of the incomparable Cuban genius José Raúl Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine. We look at the reasons behind the Soviet Union's dominance of chess after the Second World War, which would continue for some years after it collapsed and was only interrupted briefly by the brilliance of Bobby Fischer, who, along with Boris Spassky, was responsible for the one moment when chess burst onto the world stage to grab everybody's attention. To bring our tour of chess history up to date, we look at the rivalry between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, Kasparov's duel with the supercomputer Deep Blue, and, in recent years, how chess has expanded into other parts of the world, in India and China, before finishing in Norway with Magnus Carlsen.

Chess is, of course, not all about its most famous players, so along the way we take a few detours to look at, for instance, the Lewis Chessmen and to stop off in New York's Washington Square Park. We take in Thomas Middleton's play A Game at Chess at the Globe Theater in London and have a coffee with the chess players at the Café de la Régence in Paris, before looking at how Alan Turing managed to play computer chess at a time before a computer had been built that was fast enough to run the program he had written. To round it all off, we take a mini tour of chess on the Internet and a brief glance at where chess might be going in the future.




    Move 1 - The Silk Road Opening
    Move 2 - War Without Bloodshed
    Move 3 - A Chinese Alternative
    Move 4 - The Persian Exchange
    Move 5 - The Islamic Expansion
    Move 6 - The Moorish Crossover
    Move 7 - A Byzantine Possibility
    Move 8 - A Sicilian Defense
    Move 9 - The Lewis Chessmen
    Move 10 - Chess and the Meaning of Life
    Move 11 - Enter the Mad Queen
    Move 12 - The Renaissance Game
    Move 13 - A Game at Chess
    Move 14 - Coffeehouse Chess
    Move 15 - Stamma's Notation
    Move 16 - Philidor and the Pawns
    Move 17 - The Modenese Masters
    Move 18 - The Mechanical Turk
    Move 19 - Benjamin Franklin's Chess Diplomacy
    Move 20 - The Romantic Sacrifice
    Move 21 - Correspondence Chess
    Move 22 - Staunton's English School
    Move 23 - The London Chess Tournament
    Move 24 - An American Prodigy
    Move 25 - Steinitz and the Modern Game
    Move 26 - The World Chess Championship
    Move 27 - The Wider Game
    Move 28 - Laskar Takes Over
    Move 29 - Murray's History
    Move 30 - The Cuban Chess Genius
    Move 31 - The Hypermoderns
    Move 32 - Duchamp's Obsession
    Move 33 - Chess Gets Organized
    Move 34 - One Woman's Game
    Move 35 - Capablanca Vs. Alekhine
    Move 36 - The 8th Chess Olympiad
    Move 37 - The Soviet System
    Move 38 - Chess By Machine
    Move 39 - The Grandmasters
    Move 40 - Playing in the Park
    Move 41 - Bobby's Brilliant Year
    Move 42 - Chess in a Cold Climate
    Move 43 - Korchnoi's Complaint
    Move 44 - The Russian Rivalry
    Move 45 - Breaking the Mold
    Move 46 - The Big Split
    Move 47 - Kasparov Gets the Blues
    Move 48 - The Internet Changes Everything
    Move 49 - New World Order
    Move 50 - An Expansive Game

    Further reading
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