1. Chess has a very long and distinguished history. It is believed to originate out of India during the Gupta empire, and subsequently made its way to the West in the 9th century.
2. There are 318,979,564,000 possible ways to play the first four moves of a chess game on each side of the board.
3. The word "Checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means "the king is defeated".
4. The longest chess game ever was between I.Nikolic - Arsovic, in Belgrade in 1989, which ended in 269 moves. The game was a draw.
5. Chess is called the game of kings, because for many centuries it was played primarily by nobility and the upper classes.
6. The first chessboard with alternating light and dark squares (as it appears today) was made in Europe in 1090.
7. According to the America's Foundation for Chess, there are 169,518,829,100,544,000,000,000,000,000 (approximately 1.70x1029) ways to play the first 10 moves of a game of chess.
8. The number of distinct 40-move games in chess is far greater than the number of electrons in the observable universe. The number of electrons is approximately 1079, while the number of unique chess games is 10120.
9. The new pawn move, where pawns were allowed to advance two squares on its first move instead of one, was first introduced in Spain in 1280.
10. The folding chessboard was invented by a priest who was forbidden to play chess. The priest found a way around it by making a folding chessboard. When folded together and put on a bookshelf, it simply looks like two books.
11. The shortest chess game recorded lasted for only one move. It was played between Rogoff and Huber in 1972.
12. The first chess champion of the world was Wilhelm Steinitz. He defeated Johannes Zukertort in 1886.
13. Blindfold chess is real and documented in world records. It is as it sounds: a player makes all of his or her moves without looking at a board.
14. The names of the pieces-- the queen, king, knight, rook and bishop came about during the Middle Ages, when society was extremely oriented towards war and rigidly stratified.
15. Chess computers are now a very important part of chess. Most famously Garry Kasparov, world champion and known as one of the strongest players in the history of chess, was defeated by IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997 in a six-game match.