The origins of chess is one of the most controversial
areas of board gaming history. Countries which, at
one time or the other, have been associated with invention
of chess include China, India, Egypt, Greece, Assyria,
Persia, Arabia, Ireland and Uzbekistan. By far, the
most commonly held belief is that chess originated
in India. The earliest mention of chess appears in
the Indian classic, the Mahabharata, written circa
2,000 BC, where it was called Chaturanga. As a matter
of fact, the Arabic, Persian, Greek and Spanish words
for chess, are all derived from the Sanskrit Chaturanga.
The present version of chess played throughout the
world is ultimately based on a version of Chaturanga
that was played in India around the 6th century AD.
It is also believed that the Persians may have created
a more modern version of the game after the Indians.
In fact, the oldest known chess pieces have been found
in excavations of ancient Persian territories.
Another theory exists that chess arose from the similar
game of Chinese chess, or at least a predecessor,
thereof, existing in China since the 2nd century B.C.
Joseph Needham and David H. Li are two of many scholars
who have favored this theory. (wikipedia)