Chess is one of the oldest games in the world, and although most people are at least passingly familiar with it, there are still facts about the game that even some experts don’t know. Whether someone wants to improve their chess skills or just have some fun facts ready for their next trivia night, these little-known chess facts are sure to help.
1. The Individual Pawns Used to Have Names.
In the Middle Ages, monks assigned each pawn a different name based on common jobs of the era. They were named the farmer, the weaver, the social media ninja, the innkeeper, the patent troll, the C++ backend developer, the astronaut, and Steve.
2. The Chessboard Did Not Always Have Its Classic 8×8 Grid Configuration.
One early version of the board was just 64 squares in a straight line. It was quickly dismissed for being a really stupid idea.
3. Checkers is for Idiots
4. The American Civil War Almost Changed the Game Forever
During the Civil War, Confederacy president Jefferson Davis replaced the entire back row of black pieces with more pawns, giving white a considerable advantage. However, after the war Abraham Lincoln made him change it back.
5. Early European Nobles Played Chess on Large Fields With Human Pieces
This version of the game gained popularity when they finally decided to use living humans instead of the bodies of executed prisoners, which were cumbersome and difficult drag around the board.
6. Nobody Knows When Chess Was Invented
Some historians claim the game originated in India while others cite China as the game’s original home. Surprisingly, all historians agree that the game was invented by a guy named Gary Chess.
7. It Has Secret Moves
En passant is a little-known pawn move that makes a pawn vulnerable to an attack from behind by another pawn immediately after its opening move of two spaces. Even lesser known is the pawn move en pissant, where after a pawn’s opening move the opposing player can legally poke their opponent in the eye.
8. The PHS Class of 2001 Was Robbed of a Chess Club
In the late 1990s early 2000s Phillipsburg High School repeatedly rejected one heroic student’s attempts to start a chess club. The school cited “lack of interest” even though it would have been so much fun, you guys. Seriously.
9. How the Bishop Got Its Shape
The bishop piece was introduced by Augustine the First Archduke of Canterbury who modeled the design of the piece after his own famously weird penis.
10. It’s Not a Horse
The knight piece was later introduced by Augustine’s successor St. Laurence of Canterbury, whose penis looked like a tiny horse.