An Eclectic Collection of Chess Facts

Who was the very first World Chess Champion? The answer is Wilhelm Steinitz (1834-1900), who was champion from 1886-1894.

From the beginning of the game the shortest number of plays to get a checkmate is 2 moves. It’s referred to as fool’s mate (G4 to E5 for player 1 and then F4 to QH4, which results in checkmate).

One of the services at the “Moonlight Bunny Ranch” in Nevada is a chess lesson. For $200, some of the employees will play chess with you in the nude for 30 minutes.

Chess is used on the TV show The West Wing as a way to exhibit character bonds and show the audience the intelligence of the players. For example, in one episode the President is playing chess against himself, and his chief of staff helps him to see the board as a metaphor for thinking a few steps ahead of his current position.

Deep Blue became the first computer to beat the reigning World Champion in a match when it defeated Garry Kasparov by a score of 3.5-2.5

It is not widely known at all, but in some circles “playing chess” is used as a euphemism for doing drugs. It should go without saying that it is only used by drug users who are actually interested in playing chess.

Bobby Fisher died at 64 which is the amount of chess squares on the board.

I’ve been told that the often unknown pawn move “en passant” (which means “in passing” in French) was created during a game by Napoleon Bonaparte because he was upset that he could not capture a pawn when it passed his pawn’s capturing square, by going two spaces on it’s first move. Although there are some famous recorded games of Napoleon’s, most are believed to be fake and historical records show that Napoleon Bonaparte was not very good at chess.

The arguments that chess is too slow, and thus boring, are not a modern phenomena. During the Middle Ages there was much experimentation with the rules of chess. There were demands for new rules to be applied in order to speed the game up. Such rules included allowing pawns to move two spaces on their first move, and allowing the king and queen to jump squares in the opening turns so as to get them into play faster.

The first international chess tournament was the London Tourney of 1851, won by Adolf Anderssen of Germany.

A “Foolsmate” is a checkmate achieved in only four moves. This involves a quick deployment of the queen and a bishop.

Old Russian folk poems mention chess as a popular game and when the Vikings travled from Northwest Europe via the Baltic Sea, they carried the game with them to play.

Originally the Queen was one of the weakest pieces on the board moving diagonally like a bishop but only 1 square at a time. Once the Queen developed her current power the game was referred to at the time as Mad Queen Chess.

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