CHATURANGA: History and How to Play (The Origins of Chess)

● Chaturanga is popularly known as the oldest direct ancestor of modern chess, be it in its European form or its Asian variants. In this video, we will see where, when and how did Chess start its journey, how did we reach our conclusions about the history behind it, and how to play one of its more popular classical variants: Chaturaji.

● Do you want to know more about old games and how to play them? Follow me on Instagram (@ancientgaming_ludus) and stay tuned for more content!

ON A SIDE NOTE
● In the video, I mention repeatedly Garry Kasparov, the famous chess player, and attribute him some ideas and conclusions about the history of chaturanga. While he did participate in the book written by Yuri Averbackh (another famous chess player), he only wrote the foreword. Thus, all the ideas that I said in the video belong to Kasparov, do actually belong to Yuri Averbackh (my bad!)

● I know it took me some time to upload this video. The amount of information on chess history and bibliography is vast, and I wanted to give you guys the most detailed information about it that I could gather. I do all the research, scripting, recording and editing by myself, so it does take quite some time. I know some of you want faster uploads, but I want to deliver the best I can do, I hope you understand :). Of course, feel free to suggest what you want me to cover in the comments!

DISCLAIMER: this video is for educational purposes and no copyright infringement is intended.

RESOURCES USED FOR THIS VIDEO

Published Resources:
● Averbakh, Y. A. & Kasparov, G. History of Chess: from Chaturanga to the Present Day. Russell Enterprises. 2012.
● Bhatta, P. “Indian Origins of Chess: an overview”. Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 2003, Vol. 84 (2003), pp. 23-32.
● Bird, H. E. Chess History and Reminiscenses, Blackmask Online, 2002. (Original of 1893)
● Cazaux, J. L. & Knowlton, R. A World of Chess: Its Development and Variations through Centuries and Civilizations. McFarland & Company, 2017
● Dillon, P. “Artefacts, found objects and early games. A cultural ecological perspective on proto-chess pieces”, Time and Mind, DOI: 10.1080/1751696X.2020.1718312.
● Hillyer Levitt, S. Chess: its South Asian Origin and Meaning, 1991, 533-547.
● H. J. R. Murray. A History of Chess. Clarendon Press, 1913.
● Pritchard, D. B. The Classified Encyclopedia of Chess Variants. John Beasley, 2007.

Online Resources:

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Music:
Intro & Main theme: Fredji – Happy Life (Vlog No Copyright Music)

TedEd video:
A brief history of chess – Alex Gendler

GameXplain video (game of president)
All 51 Games in Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics!

45 Comments

  1. Why can you pronounce "sh" perfectly when it's Spanish and written as "z" or latinised Arabic and written with an accent, but can't a single time when it's English, even calling our language "Ingliss"? You know, the language you publish your videos in? Is that some kind of petty spite because you think you have to use English to achieve a wide audience?

  2. I bought this game being a fan a chess and to pay homage to it's roots. It was a lot of fun.

  3. Chess is originated in India . Thanks you for the video : History of Chess ( Chaturanga) : First ever Sanskrit references to Chaturanga in India date back to the Gupta Empire in the 6th century CE, with the earliest clear mention found in Banabhatta's Harsha Charitha from around AD 625. Chaturanga , an ancient Indian strategy board game, is believed to have roots dating back 5000 years to the Indus Valley Civilization. The game's name, meaning "having four limbs or parts," is derived from the Indian epic *Mahabharata*, where it refers to four divisions of an army: elephantry, chariotry, cavalry, and infantry. Later “chaturanga” personal took it and named as Sjataranj and then to medieval Europe , now evolved into modern Chess.

  4. I am a Sanskrit scholar from East Asia. It is wrong to say early Sanskrit work was only religious. Astounding works exist in literature, philosophy and sciences. Some of them may look religious but encoded in them we have the decimal number system and Hindu numerals (0,1,2,3…), so called phythogorean theorem, almost all "fables of Aoesep", a lot on astronomy, and of course you have systems like Yoga, Ayurveda, Pranayama which have now found a resurgence in use after scientific validation. In fact, Samkhya philosophy which predates, Boudha, Yoga, etc talks about the universe made of atoms and even the force of gravity – perhaps the first ever in the world. Please look up Kapila's works.

  5. what would be first chess variant that has two sides

  6. There is one relation to the markings on the ashtapada and the rules of shatranj and medieval chess. The marked squares are those which can never be attacked by any Elephant piece, given the initial setup of Elephants next to the King and Advisor.I was somewhat disappointed that a video titled "Chaturanga" was instead focused on the four player "Chaturaji". It would be interesting to have a follow-on video comparing the two-player Chaturanga with all the national chess variants (Shatranj, Chess, Makruk, shogi, xiang-qi) to trace its development as it spread around the world.

  7. thank you for video. and thank you for that, what are you doing for us 😉 waiting new videos 😉👍😊

  8. Great!! Thank you for your research and outreach. I don't mind waiting if the result is so good

  9. The board for this game act is a lot more similar to parchisi than chess.

  10. 16:40 pathi is also known as padati, translates to Soldiers on bare foot as pad means foot and padti would translate as one who walks.

  11. I agree with chariot as we in india call it "Rath" and we usually move it like Rook.

  12. In two player game, there's additional piece "Mantri" translates to Advisor in English which is placed at Queen's square however it's not as powerful as queen and only moves one square diagonal

  13. horses and chariots jumping over people and elephants going down a straight line until properly stopped, soldiers, getting a promotion only if there was no one else to put to the position and the higher ranks are in trouble. Sounds like
    ancient warfare war to me..

  14. great video!!
    Finally someone that goes deep into details.
    A little tipp from a YouTube junky if u allow :
    You have a very expressive face wich is totally ok, but for that u are way to close to the camera.
    go back a little bit more so we can see ur hands, that would be great
    greetings!

  15. 18:30, if you kind viewers missed it
    Edit: 22:27 are you sure you don’t have the chariot and the elephant’s movements mixed up?

  16. were almost close to the 200 (k) mark … 10 months later over 1million

  17. Great explanation, but please next time don’t stay that close to the camera, you’re making me dizzy. At least show your hands or shoulders 😂

  18. This whole time we didn't need to invent a cross shaped board to play 4-player chess. It was already out there!

  19. I remember watching this video a while ago. Kicking myself that I didn't subscribe at the time since it's a great summary of the history.

  20. One thing that I think could have been, and I'll explain my logic… The original Bishop leapt over pieces, and could move 2 squares diagonal. The Knight (still) leaps over piece and moves 2 squares also technically… it moves 1 square diagonal, followed by 1 square orthogonal (to create that L shape overall.) I think this is probably the "correct" way to imagine the Knight's movement, as a 2 square movement rather than a 3 square L-shaped movement, and the 2 square limited Bishop kind of vindicates this I think. So I wonder if the rook at one point leapt also, and also moved 2 squares… but orthogonal. So all pieces could have moved 2 squares originally, Bishop diagonal, Rook orthogonal, and Knight a combination of the two. I just wonder if that was the original idea of the people who invented the game? But obviously as the rules developed, the rook changed, and then later the Bishop too (removing its leap and its limit to 2 squares, and it became more like the rook with unlimited movement.)

    Just a thought I always had after hearing that the Bishop used to be more like the Knight with the leaping and two square traversal. But I've not heard about any changes to the rook. Do we know if the rook piece ever changed in the early days of Chess? Or was it always unlimited?

    Oh, also the fact the pawn moves orthogonally and takes diagonally is also very interesting because it makes it like a blend of the Bishop and the Rook's behaviour too much like the Knight.

  21. 22:26
    You got the Elephant and Chariot mixed up.

    Elephants don't move that fast. Only chariots do.
    There are chariot races ala Ben Hur. Elephants don't run faster than chariots.
    Look at Chinese Chess, that is how the Elephant and Chariot moves in Chaturanga.

  22. If I were to rob a bank, I'd go to Toys R Us and buy toys of a house, police car, truck, human figures, cops, etc . . . Then I would draw a map of the area, and go over over the plans with my accomplices. That is, I would simulate the planning of the robbery.

    The most logical invention of chess would be an extension of battle planning like in the movie Alexander.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNZGNBBmeKY

  23. 9:02 The most logical explanation is that the same board is used for other games. You can see it today. You go to Toys R Us and you can buy a 10 in 1 game set. Chess, checkers, backgammon, Parcheesi, Chinese Checkers, Snakes and Ladders, etc . . .

    The so called Iranian "scholar" is just repeating home-spun folklore. History (as we know today) is much more mathematically rigorous, modelled after genetic history.

  24. the 4 sided dice makes me wonder if that is one of the variants of what we use in Yut nori in Korea. we throw 4 sticks with 2 sides

  25. कौटिल्य षडयंत्र (Channel Shadyantra) says:

    Lord Shiva is Dhyut Papeshwar means owner of the game. This game was known as sKhandyantra or shadyantra. It was played on dashpaad to vrihadpaad boards. Game was invented by Sage Agasthya. Kartikey played this game. But Ravan was much better and expert in this game

  26. Sir,u researched very well, but Sorry I want to make u know a fact that the Al beruni wrote about the rules of Chaturaji which means Four Kings and played with the help of dices .
    This is not the rule to play Chaturang.
    Only two forces were allowed to be played in the ancient rules of chaturang and obviously in modern rules too.
    The Sankrit word " Chaturang" doesn't mean there are four armies with four different kings but it means " Chaturangini Sena" i.e. Four types or divisions of Forces i.e. Infantry, Cavalry, Elephantry and Chariotry.
    When it reached to Persia as a gift by an Indian King, it was pronounced as Chatrang by Persians and then it was being travelled to Arab by the Arabian invaders in Persia(Iran) , then it was termed as Shatranj in Arabic.
    Chaturang is a Sankrit term which is also used as a Hindi term too.

  27. My father leart me how to play chess. He is a genius in the ancient form of chess "Chathuranga". Now he's is 75 years old and still I am unable to beat him in chess 😁

  28. This Chaturanga feels closer to the structure of Pacheesi (original Ludo) – also from India, in the sense of having four teams of colors and being a dice-game.

  29. I've been binging your channel. I find ancient board games so fascinating

  30. Wait bruh I know about chaturanga cus I was from a zamindar faimy that existed at the time of skanda gupta 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
    and the board I have have 2 players

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