Nearly all historians think that chess is the oldest game of skill in life. This was the Persian Empire, and thus the earliest chess boards and sets were Persian-made pieces used in the match they termed”chaturanga.” Maybe someday an archeological dig will be lucky enough to discover a few bits, or perhaps even an entire set, of the ancient version of chess.
The Persian Empire was tremendous, and it was famous for being among the most prolific trading empires. There was no corner of the empire which these dealers didn’t reach, and they brought chess together. The first version of chess quickly spread across the empire. These ancient chess pieces were made from several unique substances throughout the Persian Empire, based on the resources of their owners.
More extravagant pieces were carved from hardwoods like ebony and rosewood. The very best early chess sets were carved from ivory, which was preferred by craftsman because of its ease of dividing and capacity to polish to a nice shine.
Luckily, examples of a number of those early ivory chessmen still live today. Pieces were found in modern-day Uzbekistan, and they’re in very good shape.
These bits were the old style chessmen which were found in the Persian Empire’s version of chess.
More contemporary, European chess sets that gamers are knowledgeable about today date from not too long after this. The first example of those European chess pieces were stored at a monastery in Ager, Spain. They’re made from rock crystal which hasn’t survived the ravages of time quite well, and just some of the pieces are in good enough condition to find out their use.
The oldest chess pieces which can be combined together to form a complete set date back to the 12th century. These pieces, known as the Lewis Pieces, contain 96 individual bits that came from four individual sets. They were created in Norway from ivory formed from walrus tusk and whale teeth. They’re in extraordinary condition, and seem as though they would be nice to use in a match now if they were not under glass at the British Museum.
European-style chess sets all had exactly the exact bits, but there were many different competing designs for certain pieces. This led to conflicts in games, when players would refuse to play each other because of the unrecognizable of particular pieces. A typical design for competition chess sets, known as the Staunton, was constructed in 1849 by Nathaniel Cook. It’s still the style used in boxing contests across the world today.