The history of chess spans over 1500 years. The earliest predecessor of the game probably originated in India, before the 6th century AD; a minority of historians believe the game originated in China. From India, the game spread to Persia. When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently spread to Southern Europe. In Europe, chess evolved into roughly its current form in the 15th century. The "Romantic Era of Chess" was the predominant chess playing style down to the 1880s. It was characterized by swashbuckling attacks, clever combinations, brash piece sacrifices and dynamic games. Winning was secondary to winning with style. These games were focused more on artistic expression, rather than technical mastery or long-term planning. The Romantic era of play was followed by the Scientific, Hypermodern, and New Dynamism eras
Precursors to chess originated in India during the Gupta Empire. There, its early form in the 6th century was known as chaturaṅga, which translates as "four divisions (of the military)": infantry, cavalry, elephantry, and chariotry. These forms are represented by the pieces that would evolve into the modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively. According to chess historians Gerhard Josten and Isaak Linder, "the early beginnings" of chess can be traced back to the Kushan Empire in Ancient Afghanistan, circa 50 BCE–200 CE.
In the second half of the 19th century, modern chess tournament play began, and the first World Chess Championship was held in 1886. The 20th century saw great leaps forward in chess theory and the establishment of the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Developments in the 21st century include use of computers for analysis, which originated in the 1970s with the first programmed chess games on the market. Online gaming appeared in the mid-1990s.