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  • Javier Romano

Origins of the game of Chess

"...Among the most sharply etched thinkers of pre-Islamic Central Asia, and one of many who helped shape the world of those who followed, was Bozorghmer (531–578). Like many later Central Asian thinkers, Bozorghmer of Merv tried his hand at many fields. When a visiting Indian ruler introduced the Persian court to the Indian pastime of chess, Bozorghmer proved his quick mastery by beating the guest at his own game. He then proposed certain ways the Indian game could be improved and, for good measure, invented the game of backgammon (nardy) as a kind of reciprocal gift to the Indian. This encounter marked the launch of both modern chess and backgammon into the Persianate world, whence they spread to the Arabs and eventually to the West. Four centuries later, another native of what is now the border area between Turkmenistan and Iran, Assuli, penned the first classic analysis of chess. Thus, before and after the Arab conquest, Central Asians had established themselves as the main champions and arbiters of the Game of Kings.”

"Lost Enlightenment" Central Asia’s golden age from the Arab conquest to Tamerlane

(p.94) S. Frederick Starr

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