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Do you know that the chess game was invented by someone named Sissa ibn Dahir in India, but he was executed by the ruling King? There is an interesting story behind it.
What is a Chess Game?
A chess board consists of 64 squares and two players play against each other. There are 16 pieces (king, queen, knight, etc.), and each player gets 8; eight rows are on the chess board.
Chess is a game that is played all around the world by millions of people. Those who master it would love playing the game over and over.
Sissa Invented the Chess Board
Sissa ibn Dahir was an Indian mathematician who invented Chaturanga, the initial version of chess. Once he realized that he had done something remarkable, he thought to show it to the ruling King of northern India.
Sissa ibn Dahir in King’s court
Sissa ibn Dahir went to the King of northern India, who, according to different historians, was either King Balhait, King Shahram, or King Ladava. Sissa told the King that Chaturanga or chess can be played by only those who are intelligent and have a great memory.
King Balhait ordered one of his ministers to learn the game. After a few months, that minister reported that he was fully equipped with the game’s rules and tactics.
Sissa played the game with the Minister
King Shahram asked Sissa ibn Dahir and his minister to play a game of chess. The tournament was held, but surprisingly, the minster won all the matches.
This made King Ladava furious; he called Sissa and asked him how he was able to lose the game. How could an inventor of a game lose to a newbie?
King Balhait complained that Sissa ibn Dahir had wasted the precious time of his intelligent minister. Upon this, Sissa answered wisely that the minister could win the matches because he is an intelligent person with a great memory.
This delighted King Shahram, and he asked Sissa what he would like to have as a reward.
Sissa requested his reward.
Sissa ibn Dahir said that it was enough for him that the minister had learned his invented game. Yet when King Ladava further insisted, Sissa asked that;
- One grain of rice is placed on the first block of chess on the first day.
- On the following days, the rice shall be doubled until the 64th block is reached.
King Balhait laughed at the request of Sissa ibn Dahir and asked his people to fulfill the request without realizing that the inventor of chess had tricked him.
The tricky part of the reward
During the initial days, a few rice grains were added to the chessboard, and Sissa would take them along. For instance, on the second day, the second block of the chessboard was filled with 2 grains; on 3rd day, 4 grains; and on 4th day, 8 grains. However, as rows were filled, King Shahram became worried.
The rice grains multiplied, and the country’s rice storage quickly ended. Moreover, it was a tiresome task to count the rice grains, place them on a chessboard, and then deliver them to the chess inventor.
King Ladava and his ministers would sit down the whole day to count the grains. As the third row finished, the rice grains numbered 8 million. When they reached the end of the fourth row, the country was out of rice.
King ordered the execution of Sissa
This alarmed King Balhait, and he realized that Sissa ibn Dahir, the inventor of chess had tricked him. As King Shahram couldn’t give the agreed-upon reward to Sissa, which could be damaging to the reputation of the King, he decided to execute him.
This is how the ruling King executed the Indian mathematician who invented the modern-day chess game.
No mathematician at that time could estimate the number of grains required to reach the last block of chess, yet now, after more than 3000 years, Bill Gates is of the view that we would need 1×10^18 (1 with 19 zeros) grains of rice to reach the 64th block of chess.