Chess board with pieces set up in traditional positions. The board is made of wood and the pieces are black and white

Chess Along the Silk Road

The modern game of chess is a perfect example of cultural exchange along the silk roads. Starting in the North-West of the Indian subcontinent, it entered Persia sometime around the 6th century CE. The game was carried to China by Buddhist monks, and by Islamic armies and traders throughout Central Asia. The Moorish conquest of Spain introduced the game into Europe, where it was eventually codified into its current form.

A useful timeline is Vitez, Origins of Chess, 2008

How to play

How to Play Xiangqi / Chinese Chess / 象棋

How to Play Chess: 7 Rules To Get You Started

The Indian Chess


Averbakh, Y. A History of Chess From Chaturanga to the Present Day 2012

Chaturanga Through the Ages: a Game of Elephants, Generals, and Madwomen 2017

Donovan. L. The Complete Guide to Chess, 2015, 144pp

Ferlito, G. and Sanvito, A., On the Origins of Chess, 1990

Josten, G., ‘Chess- a Living Fossil’, Cologne: Initiative Group Königstein., Symposium2001

Kiekintveld, C. e.a ‘Empirical Game-Theoretic Analysis of Chaturanga’ in AAMAS-06 Workshop on Game-Theoretic and Decision-Theoretic Agents, 2006

Kraaijeveld, A.R., ‘Origin of Chess–A phylogenetic perspective’. Board Games Studies3, 2000, 39-50.

Kylasov, A.V., 2019. ‘Traditional sports and games along the Silk Roads’. International Journal of Ethnosport and Traditional Games, 1, 2019, 1-10.

Mark, M., ‘18 The Beginnings of Chess’, in I. Finkel (ed) Ancient Board Games in Perspective, 2007, 138-157.

Moore, G., ‘The Mysterious Origin And Strange Descent of Chess: The Path of Evolutionary Inventive Drift

Murray H.J.R. A History of Chess,Oxford, 1913. 945pp

Paraskiewicz, K.,  ‘Persian checkmate:” The King is oppressed”: on the origin of the chessmen’s names’. Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia8, 2003.

Remus, H. ‘The Origin of Chess and the Silk Road’, Silk Road Journal, 1, 1, 2003, 6-8.

Samsin, M.J., Pawns and Pieces. Towards the Prehistory of Chess. Mimeo, 2002

World Xiangqi Federation, A short Introduction to Xaingqi, 24pp