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- Chess and Checkers: The Way to Mastership - 2/41 -


teaching usually employed. The majority of writers on Chess deal with a maze of variations and they expect the reader to memorize the moves with which to parry the maneuvers of the opponent, instead of simply developing a few common sense principles which are easy to grasp and perfectly sufficient to make a good player of any one.

This is really the great advantage of the game of Chess over any other board game, that it lends itself to the application of general principles, so that any one can grasp and enjoy it without memorizing more than the rules according to which the men move.

I have tried to develop these principles in a simple way so that they are sure to be easily understood, and I have been greatly aided in my task by Miss Helen Dvorak and Mr. Eugene Fuller, who, without any previous knowledge of the game, have learned it in reading through the manuscript of this book. They have given me many valuable hints in pointing out all that did not seem readily intelligible to the mind of the beginner.

In explaining the game of Checkers, to which the second part of the book is devoted, I have also tried to develop general principles of strategy, rather than to offer a mere classification of analyzed lines of play, which the reader would have to memorize in order to be able to compete with experts.

I was fortunate enough to secure the collaboration of the Checker Champion, Alfred Jordan, who enthusiastically adopted the new idea of teaching and furnished most of the material which I have used in illustrating the vital points of the game.

EDWARD LASKER.

INTRODUCTION

The History of Chess

The game of Chess in the form in which it is played to-day is usually assumed to be of a much older date than can be proved with certainty by documents in our possession. The earliest reference to the game is contained in a Persian romance written about 600 A.D., which ascribes the origin of Chess to India. Many of the European Chess terms used in the Middle Ages which can be traced back to the Indian language also tend to prove that India is the mother country of the game.

We are, therefore, fairly safe in assuming that Chess is about 1300 years old. Of course we could go farther, considering that the Indian Chess must have been gradually developed from simpler board games. Indeed we know from a discovery in an Egyptian tomb built about 4000 B.C. that board games have been played as early as 6000 years ago; but we have no way of finding out their rules.

The game of Chess spread from India to Persia, Arabia and the other Moslem countries, and it was brought to Europe at the time of the Moorish invasion of Spain. It also reached the far East, and games similar to Chess still exist in Japan, China, Central and Northern Asia, the names and rules of which prove that they descended from the old Indian Chess.

In Europe Chess spread from Spain northward to France, Germany, England, Scandinavia and Iceland. It became known with extraordinary rapidity, although at first it was confined to the upper classes, the courts of the Kings and the nobility. In the course of time, when the dominance of the nobility declined and the inhabitants of the cities assumed the leading role in the life of people, the game of Chess spread to all classes of society and soon reached a popularity which no other game has ever equaled.

While in the early Middle Ages the game was played in Europe with the same rules as in the Orient, some innovations were introduced by the European players in the later Middle Ages which proved to be so great an improvement that within a hundred years they were generally adopted in all countries including the Orient. The reason for the changes was that in the old form of the game it took too long to get through the opening period. The new form, which dates from about 1500 A.D. and the characteristic feature of which is the enlarged power of Queen and Bishop, is our modern Chess, the rules of which are uniform throughout the civilized world.

In the Seventeenth Century Chess flourished mostly in Italy, which consequently produced the strongest players. Some of them traveled throughout Europe, challenging the best players of the other countries and for the most part emerging victorious. At that time Chess was in high esteem, especially at the courts of the kings who followed the example of Philip the Second of Spain in honoring the traveling masters and rewarding them liberally for their exhibition matches.

Towards the beginning of the Eighteenth Century the game reached a high stage of development in France, England and Germany. The most famous master of the time was the Frenchman, Andre Philidor, who for more than forty years easily maintained his supremacy over all players with whom he came in contact, and whose fame has since been equaled only by the American Champion, Paul Morphy, and by the German, Emanuel Lasker.

During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries the number of players who obtained international fame increased rapidly, and in 1851, due to the efforts of the English Champion Staunton, an international tournament was held in London to determine the championship of Europe. It was won by the German master Anderssen, who maintained his leading place for the following fifteen years, until he was beaten by the youthful Morphy. The latter, at twenty years of age, was the first American master to visit Europe and defeated in brilliant style all European masters whom he met.

Morphy withdrew from the game after his return to America and did not try to match himself with the Bohemian Steinitz, who in the meantime had beaten Anderssen, too, and who had come to America. Steinitz assumed the title of the World's Champion and defended it successfully against all competitors until 1894, when he was beaten by Emanuel Lasker, who is still World's Champion, having never lost a match.

The next aspirant for the World's Championship is the young Cuban, Jose Raoul Capablanca, who has proved to be superior to all masters except Lasker. He entered the arena of international tournaments at the age of twenty-two in San Sebastian, Spain, in 1911, and won the first prize in spite of the competition of nearly all of Europe's masters. In the last international tournament, which was held in Petrograd in 1914, he finished second, Emanuel Lasker winning first prize.

The present ranking of the professional Chess masters is about the following:

1. Emanuel Lasker, Berlin, World's Champion. 2. J. R. Capablanca, Havana, Pan-American Champion. 3. A. Rubinstein, Warsaw, Russian Champion. 4. K. Schlechter, Vienna, Austrian Champion. 5. Frank Marshall, New York, United States Champion. 6. R. Teichmann, Berlin. 7. A. Aljechin, Moscow.

Other players of international fame are the Germans, Tarrasch and Spielmann, the Austrians, Duras, Marocy and Vidmar, the Russians, Bernstein and Niemzowitsch, the Frenchman, Janowski and the Englishman, Burn. Up to the time of the outbreak of the war the leading Chess Clubs of the different countries arranged, as an annual feature, national and international tournaments, thus bringing the Chess players of all nationalities into close contact.

This internationalism of Chess is of great advantage to the Chess player who happens to be traveling in a foreign country. There are innumerable Chess Clubs spread all over the globe and the knowledge of the game is the only introduction a man needs to be hospitably received and to form desirable social and business connections.

It would be going beyond the limit of this summary of the history of Chess if I tried to give even an outline of the extremely interesting part Chess has played in French, English and German literature from the Middle Ages up to the present time. Suffice it to mention that Chess literature by far exceeds that of all other games combined. More than five thousand volumes on Chess have been written, and weekly or monthly magazines solely devoted to Chess are published in all countries, so that Chess has, so to speak, become an international, universal language.

The History of Checkers

The literature on the game of Checkers (English: Draughts) is very limited and there are no certain references to prove that the game was known before the Sixteenth Century. Two theories are current as to its origin; one of them claiming it to be a simplified Chess, the other explaining it as the result of transferring the Spanish game Alquerque de doze to the Chess board.

H. J. R. Murray, the greatest authority on the history of games, considers it most likely that the game has been evolved from both Chess and Alquerque. The method of capturing men and the rule concerning the huffing of a man unquestionably point to the Spanish game, while the board, the diagonal move of the men and the idea of crowning a man are taken from Chess.

In France, Germany, Italy and Spain the name of the game is still that of the Queen of Chess (Dame, Dama) whose move in the Middle Ages was identical with the move of the Checkermen.

Checkers has never been able to attain more than national uniformity, and it is played with different rules in different countries. In the United States it is more popular than in any other country and a number of players have obtained national fame. The best players at present are considered to be Newell Banks and Alfred Jordan.


Chess and Checkers: The Way to Mastership - 2/41

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