NATIONAL CHESS DAY
The second Saturday in October recognizes National Chess Day. The game challenges players mentally while also breaking down barriers through the centuries.
Chess developed in India during the fifth century. As the strategic game spread across continents, the pieces and rules evolved. It also shifted between classes. Once, only the upper class could afford to linger over a long, challenging game. However, the merchant class would later introduce the game to the rest of the population as they traveled around the world trading their wares.
In the game of chess, two opponents go head to head with 16 playing pieces each. These pieces include eight pawns, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, one queen and one king in each color. Their objective is to capture the opponent’s king through a series of strategic moves.
The day celebrates the long history of chess and recognizes the role chess plays in connecting people across societies. The game has broken many barriers – class, language, and cultural – simply by two people sitting down to play one of the most mentally challenging games in the world.
- It’s a mental game. However, the game can end as quickly as two moves.
- The longest possible chess game in terms of the number of moves is 5,949.
- Checkmate derives from the Persian phrase Shah Mat. The phrase means “the King is dead.”
- In 1989, a chess match between Ivan Nikolic and Goran Arsovic in Belgrade ended in a draw. It was recorded as the longest official check game and lasted 269 moves.
- The playing board used today with the alternating light and dark squares first appeared in Europe in 1090.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalChessDay
Play a game of chess. Find a tournament near you and join it. Create an event to teach others to play chess. Use #NationalChessDay to post on social media.
We also reveal 7 Stories Behind Our Favorite Games. Come check it out!
NATIONAL CHESS DAY HISTORY
President Ford declared National Chess Day on October 9th, 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration. More information can be found on this day due to the work of David Heiser. You can find his investigative work here.
For both professionals and amateurs, chess is a game that sharpens the mind, tests human faculties and encourages healthy competition. It has captivated the attention of players and specators world-wide and will continue to do so as long as competition and excellence challenge mankind. ~ President Gerald Ford ~ October 1976
Our founding fathers played chess, including George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Franklin was exceptionally skilled and wrote one of the earliest books on chess.
Q. How many pieces are in a chess set?
A. Each competitor starts with 16 pieces for a total of 32 pieces in a chess set.
Q. How many pawns are in a chess set?
A. Each competitor starts with 8 pawns for a total of 16 pawns in a chess set.
Q. What is the difference between check and checkmate?
A. The use of “check” in chess signals that the opponent’s king is being threatened, but there are still moves available to end the threat. When a competitor uses “checkmate,” the game is over because there is no way to save the king.
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