Chess BooksChess History

The First Chess Book

The First Chess Book

Why should we study old chess books?

Books in chess have always been a vital part of progress for a chess-player.  Chess-players who have had any success usually can attribute it to some chess book that they have read. Books on the game of chess have been a vital part of a players arsenal of weapons.

It is therefore useful to know of the books that have gone before. A knowledge of the history of chess-books can build a strong foundation on which the player a player can advance and improve.

The history of chess can be broken down to the history of books. The great players were all influenced by certain books and the vast majority of them have written a book or 2 or 10.

I feel that it is only fitting to start our explorations with the very first chess book ever printed and the second book ever printed in English.

About the first book

The name of the book is Game and Playe of the Chesse by William Caxton. First published in 1474.

William Caxton published the first chess-book
William Caxton

It is a good time to mention that this will be available in Chess for Children’s PDF library. We offer this as a free service to our members.

There are a few things to know about this book on chess:

  1. The book was not about chess. It used chess as a metaphor to describe how a  good people should act.
  2. It was not the first book written about chess: It was the first printed about chess.
  3.  William Caxton was not its author . It was based on a series of sermons by a Dominican friar named Jacobus de Cessolis.
  4. The book was the first which used woodcuts. The woodcuts were used to help illustrate various moral lessons.
  5. The book is not easy to read.  This book was written in Old English before the rules of spelling and grammar were established.

 Game and Playe of the Chesse was at the time of its publishing was very popular. It was said to even rival the bible.

Jacobus’s sermons were very popular at the time because of their strong moral message.

Get your own copy!

If you would like to download your own copy of The Game and Playe of the Chesse download it here.