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The predecessor of the modern game of chess was played in India prior to the 6th century A.D. From India, the
game spread to Persia, then to the Muslim world, and then to southern Europe. Many forms and styles of chess
existed prior to the 1800s. In the second half of the 19th century, modern chess tournaments began. The first World
Chess Championship was held in 1886. In the 20th century, the World Chess Federation was formed and tournament
play was standardized.
The chess set as we know it was invented in 1849 in London. The set was designed by architect Nathan Cook
and included elements of Greek and Roman architecture. It was named the Staunton Chess Set after chess authority
Howard Staunton who was considered to be one of the best players in the world at the time. Chess organizations all
over the world have required the use of the Staunton Chess Set since the '20s.
While Staunton chess sets must be used in tournament play, many different types of chess sets are available to
collectors, some dating back hundreds of years. Many collectors focus on regions when collecting sets, including
Asian, English, German, Polish, Philippine, and African sets. Collectors also search for sets made of materials other
than plastic, including wood, ivory, glass, porcelain, and precious metals.
Chess was very popular in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Russian chess
sets often have spire tops
The Soviet Union was the first to use plastic to make their chess sets
The Jewel Royale chess set is currently considered the most expensive chess set in the world. The set is made of
solid gold and platinum, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, plus white and black pearls. It is valued at $9.8
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