“It was left to the Greeks to develop a game that required skill and reason”
Most games contain an element of chance or luck. Long before our time, long before Staunton, Ruy Lopez, Shannon and Kasparov, long before the scientific revolution that dragged Europe out of the dark ages, there lived men/women whose ideas and discoveries marked the very beginnings of Chess as we know it today. It was left to the Greeks to develop a game that required skill and reason.
The ancient Greeks and Italians nurtured two of the greatest flowerings in the history of mankind. The Athenian Golden Age was populated by Phidias, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and many of the Greek tragicans, who were reflected in the Italian Golden Age of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Machiavelli and Raphael some twenty centuries later.
The Greeks who migrated from their homeland to the coastline of Asia Minor in about 1800 BC were different to their contemporaries in Egypt and Babylon. They were tough, practical and, most importantly, democratic. Without dogma to retard their development, they began to play Petteia, which was first mentioned by Cratinus in the 5th century BC and by Plato in The Republic, who described it as a game requiring skill and long training.
Petteia was a board game requiring pure reason and played without dice. Greece has produced many great minds - Erasosthenes of Cyrene (276-196 BC) who would later be called a Renaissance Man. His interests included history, astronomy, geography, philosophy, mathematics and poetry and was colloquially known as b (Beta), as he was considered to be the second best in the world at everything.
A friend of the great Archimedes, he achieved far more than could be dealt with here, but among his greater achievements was a map with 675 stars, a value for the angle of the Earths axis to the plane of the Suns apparent motion in the sky, a map of the British Islands, Ireland and much more.