The Rabbis' Gambit: A Brief History of Jews and Chess

If at first the rabbis were appalled by the notion of Jews squandering time better spent on Torah study, over the centuries playing chess would become encouraged – as long as they didn’t gamble on Shabbat

Elon Gilad
Elon Gilad
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King Solomon was a great chess player, according to Jewish legend. This obviously could not have been so. Chess had not been invented yet 3,000 years ago, when the king allegedly lived. The game originated in India from a game called chaturanga (in Sanskrit: “four parts”) and was likely played with dice. This would evolve into an early version of the game we know today by the 6th century, or possibly the early 7th century, when we find the first mention of it – in Sassanid Persia. There it was known as chatarang.