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Chess derives from an ancient Indian game called Chaturanga that means Four Divisions: Infantry (Pawns), Cavalry (Knights), Elephants (Bishops), and Chariots (Rooks).

After the sixth century, Chaturanga spread from the Gupta Empire (Eastern India) to the Sassanid Persia.

In Persia it became the Chatrang.

After the Islamic conquest of Persia, the Chatrang became the Shatranj.

In the 10th century, the Moors introduced the Shatranj to North Africa, Sicily, and Iberian Peninsula.

In Spanish Shatranj became Ajedrez, in Portuguese Xadrez.

The definitive spread of chess in Europe was during the Crusades, when Christian and Muslim armies fought for the conquest of the Holy Land.

In the cinematic masterpiece of Ingar Bergman, Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal), the knight crusader Antonius Block returns to Sweden and challenges the death in a game of chess.

Repetición de Amores y Arte de Ajedrez con 101 Juegos de Partido, written by Luis Ramírez de Lucena, is the oldest existing printed book on chess, published in Salamanca in 1497.

The American mathematician Claude Elwood Shannon has calculated that the number of possible chess games is larger than the number of atoms in the universe currently known.