An Illustrated History of Chess

  1 Origins
  2 Early Chess

  3 Thailand, Burma
  4 China

  5 From China?
  6 Korea
  7 Japan
  8 Evolution
  9 Europe
  10 Variants

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An Illustrated History of Chess

the bishop of ancient shatranj and modern chess
ancient and modern elephant/bishop

But, let's look at some of the differences.
The piece which we now call the bishop was originally an elephant, and it had the most peculiar move: two spaces diagonally, with the ability to leap over a piece in its way. If you place this piece on the chess board and begin moving it around in this fashion, you'll soon find that there are only eight squares on the entire board that the piece can possibly move to! A strange move, not a very powerful piece...and interestingly, unlike the manner of movement that would characterize an actual elephant on the battlefield. We'll discuss more elephant moves as we go along.

Finally, consider the queen. There were no women on this ancient battlefield, so it's not too surprising that the companion of the king here was the king's advisor. This advisor's move was also very weak: He moved only one square diagonally at a time. Not a powerful move, but often useful in guarding the king from attack.
 the queen of ancient shatranj and modern chess
ancient and modern advisor/queen
shatranj, the ancient form of chess, all ready to play
the ancient array, ready for battle
All together, the ancient game was very similar to the game we play today in terms of strategy and objective, but did not have the powerful and quickly developing moves of the pawn's double push, the bishop's long angle, and especially, the all-powerful queen.

From its mysterious beginning, somewhere in the heart of Asia, chess spread east, west, north and south.

the many forms of chess around the world and throughout history
chess pieces, as they have come to exist throughout the world

In every area chess reached, it developed local variations in rules and in forms of chessmen. Let's take a look at one branch of development, as chess spread down into Southeast Asia...

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