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- A board game for two players, each beginning with 16 pieces of six kinds — king, queen, castle, bishop, knight, pawn — that are moved according to certain rules, with the objective of checkmating (capturing) the opposing king — originally called the "shah." The winner then announces that the king is "dead" (mat). The term "checkmate" came from shah mat (perhaps also sheikh mat). "Shah" evolved, through an Old French plural, esches, into chess: also into checkers, both the game and the design. The Exchequer, which in England deals with the financial side of government, probably derived from the checkerboard tables, eschequier, used in the Middle Ages to facillitate counting. A bank check comes from the same source. The game of chess seems to have entered Europe with the Arabs, at the time of their conquest of Spain. They had learned it from the Persians, who apparently found it in India.
Glossary of Art Terms. 2014.