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Elephant in chess – how does a piece move?

An elephant in chess is a piece located on the board at the beginning of the game on cells c1, f1 (for white) and c8, f8 (for black). Each of the players at the beginning of the game has two elephants at their disposal.

Another common name is an officer. So this figure was called in the Russian Empire, so sometimes it is now called in Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria. In France it has the name “jester”, in Germany – “runner”, in Estonia – “spear”, in English-speaking countries – “bishop”, in the Czech Republic – “shooter”, in Poland – “messenger”. In ancient chess, satranja, the elephant was depicted as two tusks. This image for some was like a jester, for some it was like a bishop. Now the name “elephant” has been assigned to this figure in Russia. In our country, the name of this figure is translated most accurately. It emphasizes that chess came to us precisely from the east. However, the figure itself with the elephant has nothing in common – it looks like a man in a hat, the same bishop.

In chess, an elephant, like pawns, a horse and a rook, migrated from the ancient Indian game of Chituranga. The word “chituranga” in Sanskrit means “four kinds of troops.” This refers to chariots (rooks), cavalry, elephants and infantry (pawns). The elephant in the chituranga was portrayed with a rider.

An elephant can walk on any number of fields diagonally. For each player, one elephant moves only along white, the other only along black fields. These elephants are called, respectively, white-field and dark-field. The white-field elephant at the beginning of the game is on a white cage, the dark-field elephant is on a black one.

In a chess game record, the bishop is denoted by the letter C. If the white bishop goes from c2 to b1, then the move will be written as: Cc2-b1. If the black bishop goes from f8 to h6, then the move record is: Cf8-h6.

If a figure (one’s own or another’s) is on the way, you cannot go to this and subsequent fields. An alien figure in the way can be beaten.

This figure shows how their pieces blocked the moves of an elephant in three directions. But, an elephant can beat a black horse.

The elephant belongs to the category of light figures. This figure has several advantages. she can mix on any number of cells. From one part of the board, it can move to the opposite in one move. Two elephants, white-field and dark-field, together with each other can represent a formidable force.

The elephant can be used effectively with the pawn chain. With the onset of several pawns, the bishop can cause a lot of trouble to the opponent. An officer can no less effectively destroy the pawn chain of the opposing side.

Pictures on request pawn chains

In black, the bishop supports the base of the pawn chain

By its material value, an elephant is approximately equal to a horse. In one situation, a horse is more advantageous, in another – an elephant. If in the final part of the game pawns are left on both sides, the bishop will have an advantage, if only on one side it will be on the knight. In open positions, when there is space on the board, the elephant will have an advantage – he will have where to roam. In closed positions, a horse will be preferable. In this case, both the strangers and their figures can interfere with the elephant. If the bishop is surrounded by other pieces, it can be equated with a pawn in value. Therefore, free space is important for an elephant.

In the final part of the game, when there are few pieces left on the board, two elephants can represent a formidable force. Together, they can hold all the fields under attack. Moreover, unlike a horse, an elephant can be instantly transferred from one part of the board to another. With the help of an elephant, you can put “forks”. In this case, the bishop can simultaneously threaten two significant pieces of the enemy – the queen and the rook or two rooks.
If one of the opponents has only a king left on the board, and the other has a king and an elephant, a draw is declared. In this case, it is impossible to checkmate. It is also impossible to checkmate with any number of one-color elephants and the king on one side and one king on the other. Such a situation is possible if the pawn reaches the opposite horizontal and turns into an elephant.

But, two elephants together with the king can checkmate one king. You can also checkmate if there is a king, a horse and an elephant on one side, and one king on the other. If one of the players has a king and a rook, and the other has a king and an elephant, a draw is declared. The king who is left with the elephant needs to try to get into a corner that is different in color from the elephant (if the elephant is white-field, you need to take the black corner and vice versa). If on the one hand there is a king and a queen, and on the other hand a king and an elephant, the player with the queen wins. If on the one hand there is a king and two colorful elephants, and on the other – a king and a queen, in this case there will be a draw.

The disadvantage of an elephant is that it can only walk along fields of a certain color. By material value, the bishop is inferior to the rook, which, moving along horizontal and vertical lines, can occupy all the fields on the chessboard. On an empty board, an elephant has from 7 to 13 fields, while a rook – 14.

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