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When I traveled, chess always accompanied me. From Chichicastenango to Makati, from Tangiers to Iraklion, chess was a passport. I played with people that I could not otherwise have communicated with. The first reference in literature to the game of chess is from 550 a.d.. The game of chess apparently began in India and was brought to Persia. From there, it conquered the Islamic world and was brought to Spain and Italy by the Arabs. In Europe, during the latter years of the fifteenth century, the game of chess was altered. The changes were adopted by all Europeans. The British allowed a pawn to advance two squares on its first move. In response, the French introduced a move, known as en passant. Next, the queen could move as a bishop and as a castle. She became the most powerful piece. Finally, the bishop could move any number of squares on his diagonals. The first book about chess was published in 1496 in Spain. It was followed in 1512, with an Italian book, written by Damiano. A Spanish priest, Ruy Lopez de Segura, felt that Damiano's book was inadequate. He published a book in 1561. He was one of the best players, until he was defeated by two Italians at a competition that was organized by King Philip II. As a chess theorist, Lopez was replaced by Gioacchino Greco. This man was without equal and his writings were published in English, French and German. In the late seventeenth century, the game of chess was nurtured and improved in two cafés. Slaughter's Coffee House in London and the Café de la Régence in Paris. Voltaire, Rousseau, Robespierre, Napoleon and Benjamin Franklin frequented the Café de la Régence. The chess masters, Philidor, Bourdonnais, Deschapelles and Kermeur also played inside these cafés. The Italians wrote the best books about chess theory until the mid eighteenth century. The first international tournament was in London in 1851. It was organized by Howard Staunton. He was defeated by Rudolph Anderssen. In 1858, an American went to London and defeated everybody. Paul Morphy was such a skilled opponent, Staunton would not play him. Anderssen was defeated by Paul, who became the unofficial world champion. The Chess Federation was created in France in 1924. The Soviets had the greatest influence on the game of chess in our century. Spassky was defeated by Fischer, who then disappeared for twenty years. Fischer reappeared and defeated Spassky again. Fischer would not play Karpov and in 1975, Karpov was the world champion. Karpov was afraid of being defeated by Garry Kasparov and he complained to the President of the FIDE. Campomanes altered the tournament rules in order to appease Karpov. Angered by this, Kasparov created the Professional Chess Players Association. He become an alternate world champion, after he defeated an Englishman. The choice of chess software is simple. I recommend Chessmaster. It teaches the game. It analyzes the play and has a vast library of master's games. You can watch the games with full commentary. Play chess online. Receive a rating. It is a strong opponent and adjusts to your weaknesses. The tutorials are written by Josh Waitzskin and Bruce Pandolfini. If you already know how to play chess or if you want to learn, this software will improve your game. Who knows how far you will go?
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