On each side are eight Men, and as many Pawns, which are to be mov'd and shifted, according to certain Rules and Laws of the Game.
Donatus, on Terence's Eunuch, observes, that Pyrrhus, the most knowing and expert Prince of his Age, ranging a Battle, made use of the Men at Chess to form his Designs; and to shew the Secrets thereof to others. Vopiscus, in his Life of Proculus, informs us, that one of the Roman Emperors had the Title Augustus given him, because of his gaining ten Games at Chess successively. Tamerlane is recorded as a very expert Gamester at Chess.
Chess is doubtless a most antient and universal Game: The common Opinion is, that it was invented by Palamedes at the Siege of Troy. Others attribute the Invention to Diomedes, who liv'd in the Time of Alexander: The Romance of the Rose ascribes it to one Attalus; but the Truth is, the Game is so very antient, there is no traceing its Author.
In China it makes a considerable Part of the Education of their Maids, and seems to take the Place of the Dancing among us. In Spain, whole Cities challenge each other at Chess.
John of Salisbury relates, that in a Battel between the French and English, in 1117, an English Knight seizing the Bridle of Louis le Gros, and crying to his Comrades The King is taken, that Prince struck him to the Ground with his Sword, saying,
Cardinal Cajetan, and other Casuists, rank Chess in the Number of prohibited Games; as requiring too much Application: And Montaign blames it as too serious for a Game.
Sarrasin has a precise Treatise on the different Opinions of the Origin of the Latin Schacchi; whence the French Echecs, and our Chess, is form'd. Menage is alfo very full on the same Head. Leunclavius takes it to come from Uscoques, a famous Turkish Robber: P. Sirmond from the German Schach, Thief; and that from Calculus. He takes Chess to be the same with the Ludus Latrunculorum of the Romans, but mistakenly. This Opinion is countenane'd by Vossius and Salmasius, who derive the Word from Calculus, as us'd for Latrunculus. G. Tolosantis derives it from the Hebrew Schach, vallavit & mat, mortuus; whence Chess and Chess-mate.
Fabricius says, a celebrated Persian Astronomer, one Scatrensca, invented the Game of Chess; and gave it his own Name, which it still bears in that Country. Nicod derives it from Scheque, or Xeque, a Moorish Word for Lord, King, and Prince: Bochart adds, that Scach is originally Persian, and that Scachmat, in that Language, signifies the King is dead. The Opinion of Nicod and Bochart, which is likewise that of Scriverius, appears the most probable.