Why are Indian openings called Indian?

Answered by Frank Schwing

The term “Indian Defence” is used to refer to a group of chess openings that are commonly played by Indian players. These openings are characterized by a specific pawn structure and move sequence, which is why they are given this name.

The reason why these openings are called Indian is rooted in the history and development of chess. Chess has a long and rich history in India, dating back over a thousand years. It is believed to have originated in India, where it was known as Chaturanga. The game then spread to other parts of the world, including Persia (modern-day Iran) and subsequently to Europe.

During the period of British colonial rule in India, chess became a popular pastime among both the British officials and the local Indian population. The British players, who were well-versed in the European style of chess, often employed certain opening strategies and moves that were considered standard in Europe.

On the other hand, the Indian players, influenced by their own chess traditions and strategies, developed their own unique set of opening moves and pawn structures. These openings had a distinct character and were different from the European style of play. Over time, these opening systems became associated with Indian players and were termed as the “Indian Defence.”

One of the earliest instances of the term “Indian Defence” being used was in 1884, when the Indian player Moheschunder Bannerjee played against John Cochrane. The name was attributed to the openings used by Bannerjee in that match.

It is worth noting that the term “Indian Defence” is a general term that encompasses several specific variations and systems within it. Some of the well-known Indian Defence openings include the King’s Indian Defence, Queen’s Indian Defence, Nimzo-Indian Defence, and Grunfeld Defence.

The use of the term “Indian” to describe these openings is primarily based on their association with Indian players and the historical context of chess in India. It is a way of identifying and categorizing a set of openings that have their own unique characteristics and strategic ideas.

The term “Indian Defence” is used to refer to a group of chess openings that have their origins in the chess traditions of India. The name is a result of the association of these openings with Indian players and their distinct style of play.