Chess is believed to have originated in India around the 6th century AD. Tradespeople spread the game throughout India and the Persian Empire. Having been around for around 1500 years, possibly more, it eventually made its way to Europe after the Arabs conquered Persia. Through many rules changes and a slow process of normalizing the game so that the rules were the same from country to country, chess as we know it today started to take shape in 15th century Europe. Tournaments wouldn’t start for another 4 centuries with casual and club level play being the main form of chess. The first world championship was held in 1886 between Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort. In the 20th century, FIDE, the World Chess Federation, was established that was charged with running world championships and maintaining a core set of rules to govern chess.
Anglo-Dutch Reproduction Chess Pieces, Circa 1800