Playing Chess as an Illustrator

I started playing chess when I was a kid and as I get older I’m becoming more and more fascinated by the game. I just play for fun online and over the board with friends, when I have a chance. I try to get better, and I even study some theory, but I’m not a great player, and I don’t have any aims to become a Master. I play because it’s fun and it’s a great exercise for my brain.

The history of chess can be traced back nearly 1500 years, although the earliest origins are uncertain. The earliest predecessor of the game probably originated in India, before the 6th century AD. There is an astonishing tale about it’s origins: the story of the grains of wheat.

There are a lot of variants of the story, but the main idea is something like that:

King Shihram was a tyrant who oppressed his subjects. One of his subjects, a wise man named Sissa ibn Dahir, invented the game of chess for the king to play, to show him that a king needed all his subjects and should take good care of them. King Shihram was so pleased that he ordered that the game of chess should be preserved in the temples, and said that it was the best thing he knew of to train generals in the art of war, a glory to religion and the world, and the foundation of all justice.

Then King Shihram asked Sissa ibn Dahir what reward he wanted for this great invention. Sissa answered that he didn’t want any reward, but the king insisted. Finally Sissa said that he would take this reward: the king should put one grain of wheat on the first square of a chessboard, two grains of wheat on the second square, four grains on the third square, eight grains on the fourth square, and so on, doubling the number of grains of wheat with each square (an exponential rate of growth).

“What a dummy!” thought the king. “That’s a tiny reward; I would have given him much more.” He ordered his slaves to bring out the chessboard and they started putting on the wheat. Everything went well for a while, but the king was surprised to see that by the time they got halfway through the chessboard the 32nd square required more than four billion grains of wheat, or about 100,000 kilos of wheat. Now Sissa didn’t seem so stupid anymore. Even so, King Shihram was willing to pay up.

But as the slaves began on the second half of the chessboard, King Shihram gradually realised that he couldn’t pay that much wheat – in fact, to finish the chessboard you would need as much wheat as six times the weight of all the living things on Earth.

(London, 1843-1871, Biographical dictionary of Ibn Khallikan, vol. III, p. 71).

There are other astounding facts of chess that illustrates the depth and complexity of the game. For instance, the number of possible chess positions is higher than the atoms in the observable universe.

Besides those amazing facts, I love the strategy, geometry, beauty and creativity involved in a chess game. The more I get into understanding the game, the more impressed and attracted I am.

After playing regularly, I’ve noticed a lot of improvements, not only in my chess skills but also in other areas, like my skills as an illustrator or my day-to-day life. Chess is a mental exercise (and a sport) that helps to improve many cognitive skills and mental abilities.

Benefits and similarities between playing chess and being an illustrator

How to start playing chess?

If you want to start playing chess but you feel a bit overwhelmed by the game, here are some tips.


Chess not only allows you to improve your cognitive skills and abilities in many ways, but it’s also entertaining and a lot of fun to play.

If my schedule allows it, I try to play a couple of games every day.

If you want to play, you can find me on or under the username mgz47.