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December 26, 2018

After Christmas
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. Today it is estimated 605 million people worldwide play chess.

There are 400 different possible positions after one move each. There are 72,084 different possible positions after two moves each. There are over 9 million different possible positions after three moves each. The number of distinct 40-move games in chess is far greater than the number of electrons in the observable universe.

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Today's Random Fact:

The word "Checkmate" in Chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means "the King is dead."

The rook is named from an Arabic word rukh, meaning chariot. This reflects its ability to move quickly in straight lines, but not leap over obstacles. During the Middle Ages, when chariots were no longer in use, the rook was gradually modified to look more like the turret of a castle.

The knight's role has been stable over time. Even in the earliest versions of the game, it represented the cavalry and had the unique ability to leap over its opponents.

Bonus Fact:

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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. Usually there is a "middle man" of sorts to give and receive moves for the game.

Blindfold chess is an impressive skill that many stronger chess players possess. It certainly requires a keen ability to see the board clearly, which can get difficult after many moves. The record was set in 1960 in Budapest by Hungarian Janos Flesch, who played 52 opponents simultaneously while blindfolded - he won 31 of those games.