Here are 40 Interesting Chess facts.

1-5 Chess Facts

1. A village in India is addicted to chess after one man taught everyone how to play 50 years ago to stop excessive alcohol use and gambling which has now all declined to almost nothing. – Source

2. Ossip Bernstein was a famous chess grandmaster, who was sentenced to death by the Bolsheviks in 1918. While he was facing the firing squad, a Russian officer that heard his name offered him the chance to prove his identity in a game of chess. He beat the officer and was released. – Source

3. There’s a company that specializes in making hidden rooms for your home. One requires a chess board played in a certain combination to unlock. – Source

4. In 1999, chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov played The World in a game of chess that lasted over four months. Over 50,000 people from more than 75 countries participated in the game with moves being decided by majority vote. Garry ended up winning on turn 62 when 51% of The World decided to resign. – Source

5. The word “gambit” is specifically a chess term, but later generalized to mean “sacrifice for advantage”. – Source

6-10 Chess Facts

6. In 1770, a man invented the machine that could play a strong game of chess against a human opponent. The “android” that played the game was nicknamed The Turk (as was the machine itself). It wasn’t until 1857 that it was revealed to be a hoax (a chess master was hiding in the machine). – Source

7. The rules of chess were changed in the 15th century to reflect the accomplishments of Queen Isabella. – Source

8. While playing a game of chess in France, Benjamin Franklin took his opponent’s King after she inadvertently put it in check. When she said, “Ah, we don’t take kings so” Franklin replied, “We do in America.” – Source

9. Chess in a mandatory subject in Armenian schools. – Source

10. Every pawn on a chess board was given the name of a commoner’s occupation like Gambler, Innkeeper, etc. – Source

11-15 Chess Facts

11. Before 1600, a game of chess could be won by capturing all of the opponent’s pieces, leaving a bare king; a style of play known as “annihilation”. In Medieval times, players considered it nobler to win by checkmate, so annihilation became a half win for a while until it was abandoned. – Source

12. There is a variant of chess called “Singularity Chess” played on a board distorted in the center. Due to the distortion, some pieces can make U-turns, attack the same square in multiple ways, and bishops can change square colors. – Source

13. Mathematically there are more possible games of chess than there are atoms in the Observable Universe. – Source

14. It is possible to checkmate an opponent in chess in two moves. – Source

15. Chess moves have widely recognized annotation symbols, such as “!” indicating a good move, “!!” indicating a brilliant move, “??” indicating a blunder, and “?!” indicating a dubious move which is not easily refuted. – Source

16-20 Chess Facts

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16. Judit Polgar, a female chess player who defeated Kasparov, Karpov, and Spassky, was part of an experiment by her father to prove chess genius is made, not born. – Source

17. Heath Ledger was an avid chess player; he won Western Australia’s junior chess championship at age 10 and as an adult, he would play against other chess enthusiasts at Washington Square Park. – Source

18. There is a variation of chess, called Marahajah, in which the black army has all it’s pieces while the white army has only its queen (the marahajah) which can move as a knight and a queen. – Source

19. A chess grandmaster threw the final round of a tournament in protest of having repeatedly been made to play women. She turned down the chance to defend her women’s world title to play mixed matches and randomly drew 7 women out of 10 rounds. The 5 move loss is the quickest ever by a grandmaster. – Source

20. The longest recorded tournament chess match lasted 20 hours and 15 minutes and resulted in a draw. – Source

21-25 Chess Facts

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21. Magnus Carlson played 10 chess games simultaneously with his back turned and won 7 of them. – Source

22. The rows on a chess board are called ranks and the columns are called files. – Source

23. In the 1940s, chess master Miguel Najdorf set multiple world records for the number of simultaneously played blindfold chess games, while living in Argentina. He hoped that news of his feats would spread to Europe, so that his family could flee the Holocaust and join him. – Source

24. There is a term called “zugzwang,” to describe a situation in chess where a player would prefer not moving at all when it’s his turn because moving any piece would worsen his current position. A player who is forced to make a move in this situation is said to be “in zugzwang.” – Source

25. There’s a version of chess called “quantum chess” where the pieces are in a state of superposition; the player doesn’t know what a piece will be until it is selected for play. Once selected, it behaves as any one of the conventional pieces and returns to its state of superposition after the move. – Source

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Last Update: March 19, 2018