International Chess Day

International Chess Day, also known as World Chess Day, is a holiday that’s observed annually on July 20th. The purpose of this holiday is to celebrate the over 600 million regular chess players around the world who enjoy this game. It’s also a day that promotes the game itself and encourages people of all ages to play.

Although chess was once seen only as a game for kings and queens, it is now enjoyed by people from all walks of life. In fact, it’s been estimated that over 70% of the people in the world have played chess at one point in their lives, and the popularity of this game continues to rise with each passing year.

The History of International Chess Day

Although the origins of chess aren’t as clear as we would like, it appears that it originated in India from a two-player war game called Chaturanga. This game dates back to the 7th century A.D. By 1000 A.D, the game had spread to Europe thanks to Persian traders.

In the original game, there was no queen, but there was an advisor known as a “ferz” in Persian. In Persia, a ferz is a male counselor that gives advice to the king. The Europeans didn’t like this depiction, however, so they changed the piece to a queen. In the early European chess game, the queen was the weakest piece on the board.

The range of the bishop was also limited. This resulted in a game that was dramatically slower than the modern game. During the 15th century, the queen would go from being the weakest piece on the board to one of the strongest, and the bishop was given long-range capabilities.

This dramatically improved the game and quickened its pace. By the 16th century, these rules became standardized — just in time for the invention of the printing press. These printed rules would become the standard for how modern chess games are conducted. Of course, we could continue on with our history lesson about chess, but we’ll save that for another article.

Instead, we’ll now turn our attention to the founding of International Chess Day. This holiday was created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1966. They placed this holiday on July 20th because this is when the International Chess Federation was founded in 1924.

Observing International Chess Day

This is a great day for people to break out their chess boards and enjoy the game with either their friends or members of their household. It’s also a good day for people who have never played chess before to learn how the game is played. And, of course, people can use the hashtag #WorldChessDay on social media to spread the word about this holiday.

When is it?
This year (2024)
July 20 Saturday
Next year (2025)
July 20 Sunday
Last year (2023)
July 20 Thursday
Fun & Joy, Hobby & Creativity