Chess is believed to have originated in Eastern India, where its early form in the 6th century was known as chaturaṅga. The earliest evidence of chess is found in the nearby Sassanid Persia around 600, where the game came to be known by the name chatrang. Chatrang was taken up by the Muslim world after the Islamic conquest of Persia, where it was then named shatranj. The oldest archaeological chess artifacts were excavated in ancient Afrasiab, today's Samarkand, in Uzbekistan and date to about 760. The first reference to chess, called Xiang Qi, in China comes about 800. The game reached Western Europe and Russia, the earliest being in the 9th century. By the year 1000, it had spread throughout Europe.
Around 1200, rules of shatranj started to be modified in southern Europe, and around 1475, several major changes made the game essentially as it is known today. These modern rules for the basic moves had been adopted in Italy and Spain, then quickly spread throughout western Europe. Writings about the theory of how to play chess began to appear in the 15th century. The rules concerning stalemate were finalized in the early 19th century. Centers of chess activity in this period were coffee houses in major European cities. At the same time many chess clubs, chess books, and chess journals appeared. There were correspondence matches between cities. Chess problems became a regular part of 19th-century newspapers.
The first modern chess tournament was organized by Howard Staunton, a leading English chess player, and was held in London in 1851. Wilhelm Steinitz triumph over Johannes Zukertort in 1886 is regarded as the first official World Chess Championship. After the end of the 19th century, the number of master tournaments and matches held annually quickly grew. In 1927, the Women's World Chess Championship was established. The World Chess Federation (FIDE), founded in 1924 in Paris. FIDE is a member of the IOC, but the game of chess has never been part of the Olympic Games. Chess has had its own Olympiad since 1924, when was held 1st unofficial, and 1927 when was held 1st official chess Olympiad.