From Gulf News Online, Weekend Review
How chess explains the rise and decline of the empires and superpowers
Oh for GODDESS' SAKE! I can't believe that after so many years of publishing the TRUTH about the real meaning of the term shah mat, writers who should know better are still publishing the bullshit that shah mat means "the King is dead."
What sheer utter nonsense! I wrote about this TEN FRIGGING YEARS AGO, people! Here's a link to my article at Goddesschess (the website). Read the truth of the matter, please!
The original term shah mat -- the oldest that we know of in a written text as far as I'm aware, from an ancient Persian epic, no less -- was in an ancient Persian language, NOT ARABIC! Shah is a Persian word - NOT ARABIC! The phrase was Persian, NOT ARABIC! When the Arabs conquered Persia in the 7th century CE, they didn't know a Shah mat from a hole in the ground! And they didn't know chess, either. By coincidence, mat in Arabic means dead or death. Hence, lots of 19th century Germans and English "historians" were eager to jump to the WRONG CONCLUSION that the phrase meant -- la da la da. THEY - WERE - WRONG!
The Arabs got chess from the Persians. The Arabs renamed some pieces because they had difficulties pronouncing some of the Persian namess for the pieces, and substituted names that made sense to them in their culture at the time. But the Shah always remained the Shah. He was still the Shah when the last of a long line of actual Shahs was overthrown by the Islamic Nazis in Iran in 1979 and a couple hundred Americans were held captive by the Islamic Nazis for over a year. Remember that, do you?
Consider this -- the king piece was NOT NAMED RAJA(H) when the Arabs conquered Persia and adopted the game of chess from them, which one would think would be the case if the game had originated in northwest India (Pakistan). It was only much later, in about the 11th century CE, that abundant references begin to appear in Indian literature and references, including art work, to chess, and the Indians renamed the king to what they called their kings at the time - Raja(h). Duh! How difficult is that to follow, heh?
While many 19th century German and English chess "historians" claimed that the Persians got chess from the Indians, many prominent scholars and historians have (sometimes vehemently) contested that claim over the years and provided evidence to support their own hypotheses about the origins of chess. China has been proposed by several researchers; Persia has been proposed by others. Goddesschess' Don McLean (may he rest in peace), thought it likely the original inspirations and symbolism that ultimately culminated in the game of chess arose out of ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, while Don was a wonderful speaker who could captivate an audience, he was not a very good writer, and when he unexpected passed away in October, 2012, what he did have in writing was locked away on his trusty old Mac notebook, in storage since his death.
Most of the counter-vailing hypotheses and evidence put forth have been ignored by supporters of the 19th century school of thought because, frankly, they cannot come up with convincing counter-arguments to shore up the hoary old hypotheses (accepted as Gospel Truth for so many years) proposed by H.J.R. Murray in his "A History of Chess."
Today, some Indian scholars have their own reputations and vested interests to protect since they backed the German hypothesis of "chess out of India" seconded by Murray, and are not actually interested in uncovering the truth; they are as eager as the Germans to pooh-pooh anything counter to their own pet hypotheses and conclusions drawn therefrom. Reputations and money are at stake.
Who'd have thunk that such an esoteric subject that 99.9% of the world's population doesn't give a bloody damn about could generate such controversy and fire! WHHOOOOSSSHHHH!
Don't fall for the standard line of crap that:
(1) Chess is a war game (it was not initially, at all, but it did evolve into a SUBSTITUTE for war, based upon the ancient Persian tradition of the King's Champion or RUHKH -- does that name ring any bells with you? RUHKH was a war charioteer, and in today's western chess we call the piece the Rook or Castle. And that herstory is mighty interesting how that switcheroo came about).
(2) Chess was invented in India (it wasn't).
(3) Shah mat (in English, checkmate) means "the King is dead" (it doesn't).