Caissa is a Greek dryad venerated as the goddess of chess. The myth originated in a poem called Caissa, written in 1763 in Latin as hexameters by Sir William Jones [1]. In the poem, Caissa initially repels the advances of the Greek god of war, Ares. Spurned, Ares seeks the aid of the god of sport, who creates the game of chess as a gift for Ares to win Caissa's favor.

Caissa is quite frequently referred to in chess commentary. Garry Kasparov uses this reference now and again, especially in his epic volume My Great Predecessors. It is used as a substitute for being lucky - "Caissa was with me" - especially in unclear situations, for example in sacrifices. Caissa as a concept has also been explored by some who seek the evidence of the sacred feminine in chess.

The first (Russian) computer program that won the World Computer Chess Championship (in 1974) was also named Caissa.


English verse translation of the poem

Mythology Images

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