Chess originated in India’s Gupta Empire (320 to 550 CE). Since Indian palace life centred on courtyards and gardens, it is likely that most games of chess were played in cool shade and green surroundings. The Hindu name for chess is chaturaṅga. This indicates a palace origin. It means ‘four divisions (of the military)’: infantry, cavalry, elephantry, and chariotry. Chess spread east and west along the Silk Roads and, again, is likely to have been played in the cool shade of caravansarai. The oldest surviving chess pieces were found in Afrasiab, overlooking modern Samarkand. Timur Tamerlane’s had a palace-fortress here. If chess ability correlates with generalship, Timur would have been a champion player.
Did chess originate as a garden game?
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