Requiring intense concentration and memory, chess is one of the oldest and most popular board games around the world.
Chess fans across the globe are marking International Chess Day on July 20 – which is also when the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was established in 1966.
One of the oldest and most popular board games played between two players, the aim of the game is to use your pieces to checkmate your opponent’s king.
The earliest version of the game is believed to have originated in India more than 1,500 years ago before being taken up by the Muslim world and then to Europe.
The graphic below summarises the basic rules of the game.
Chess champions by country
Winning a World Chess Championship title is a great source of pride for many countries.
Since the first official World Chess Championship was held in 1886, only 20 players have held the prestigious championship title with nine of them having played for USSR/Russia.
Russian Grand Masters Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov share the record for the most number of championships with German Emanuel Lasker at six titles each.
The USSR/Russia has won 26 titles followed by the German Empire (six) with Norway and India tied for third with five titles each.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, FIDE banned Russia and Belarus from hosting official events and displaying their flags in FIDE-rated events. Several Russian players now participate under the FIDE flag in order to continue competing.
On March 21, 32-year-old Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin was also subsequently banned from competition for six months because of his public support for Russia’s invasion.
The top-ranked chess players
The current world number one ranked player is 31-year-old Magnus Carlsen from Norway. The reigning five-time world champion first became World Chess Champion at the age of 22 by defeating Indian defending champion Viswanathan Anand in 2013.
Hou Yifan from China, aged 28, is the current women’s highest-ranked player and is the youngest player ever to win the Women’s World Chess Championship at the age of 16.
Iranian-French chess prodigy Alireza Firouzja who is 19 years old holds the junior number one spot and ranks third in the open division.