Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/248

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236
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

or "four-bodied." The game thus devised was itself called chaturanga, for when it passed into Persia it carried with it its Indian name in the form shatranj, still retained there, though lost by other nations who received the game from Persia, and named it from the Persian name of the principal piece, the shah, or king, whence schach, eschecs, chess. According to this simple theory, which seems to have the best evidence, chess is a late and high development arising out of the ancient draught-games. But there is another theory maintained by Professor Duncan Forbes in his "History of Chess," and prominent in one at least of our chess handbooks, which practically amounts to saying that chess is derived from backgammon. It is argued that the original game was the Indian fourfold-chess, played with four half-sets of men, black, red, green, and yellow, ranged on the four sides of the board, the moves of the pieces being regulated by the throws of dice; that in course of time the dice were given up, and each two allied half-sets of men coalesced into one whole set, one of the two kings sinking to the position of minister, or queen. Now, this fourfold Indian dice-chess is undoubtedly a real game, but the mentions of it are modern, whereas history records the spread of chess proper over the East as early as the tenth century. In the most advanced Indian form of pachisi, called chupur, there are not only the four sets of different-colored men, but the very same stick-dice that are used in the dice-chess, which looks as though this latter game, far from being the original form of chess, were an absurd modern hybrid resulting from the attempt to play backgammon with chess-men. This is Dr. van der Linde's opinion, readers of whose book will find it supported by more technical points, while they will be amused with the author's zeal in belaboring his adversary Forbes, which reminds one of the legends of mediæval chess-players, where the match naturally concludes by one banging the other about the head with the board. It is needless to describe here the well-known points of difference between the Indo-Persian and the modern European chess. On the whole, the Indian game has substantially held its own, while numberless attempts to develop it into philosophers' chess, military tactics, etc., have been tried and failed, bringing, as they always do, too much instructive detail into the plan which in ancient India was shaped so judiciously between sport and science.

In this survey of games, I have confined myself to such as offered subjects for definite remark, the many not touched on including cards, of which the precise history is still obscure. Of the conclusions brought forward, most are no doubt imperfect, and some may be wrong, but it seemed best to bring them forward for the purpose of giving the subject publicity, with a view to inducing travelers and others to draw up minutely accurate accounts of all undescribed games they notice. In Cook's "Third Voyage" it is mentioned that the Sandwich Islanders played a game like draughts with black and white pebbles on a board of fourteen by seventeen squares. Had the explorers spent an