Indian Chess – History, Rules of the Game
Indian chess is also known as shatrange. This logical game is a descendant of the ancient Indian chaturanga, known since the 7th century BC, as well as the forerunner of modern chess.
Initially, ancient Indian chess was intended for four people and was conducted using four sets of pieces. The well-known and now chessboard was used for the game, but the moves were performed after tossing dice. Until the 6th century, the rules of the game were inaccurate and contradictory, transmitted orally between players.
The figures in the game corresponded to the structure of the Indian army of that time:
infantry represented in the game by pawns;
King and adviser (general or vizier) in the central part of the board;
War elephants in the central part of the army;
War chariots (rooks).
The pieces were rather inactive, so each game took a lot of time – the number of moves reached 200. Players played in teams – a pair of partners sitting opposite each other played with the remaining pair.
The main goal of the game was to capture both enemy kings.
In the 7th-8th centuries, Chaturanga spread from India throughout the Arab East and Central Asia. Since there is no “h” sound in Arabic, the name “chaturanga” was re-translated to “shatrange”.
Another innovation introduced by the Arabs is a feature of the local culture. Sharia imposes a ban on the use of images of people and animals, so the traditional carvings that were used in Indian chess were replaced by abstract schematic images.
After ancient chess came to Europe, a lot of books appeared that described the features of this game. One of the most valuable is the book of authorship by Alfonso the Wise, the King of Spain, which was written in 1283. In addition to verbal descriptions, there are also about 150 color illustrations that were based on ancient Persian drawings.
Rules of the game
For Indian chess, a square board measuring 8×8 squares was used. A couple of players take part in the game, each of which has a set of figures of his own color. The set consists of a king, queen, a pair of elephants, horses, a rook, as well as 8 pawns.
Before the start of the game, the pieces are placed on opposite sides of the board symmetrically. The arrangement of pieces does not differ from classical modern chess in anything but one point – kings and queens can be swapped.
The king, rook and horse in the tentraj go in the same way as in modern chess. Other pieces have excellent rules of moves from modern chess:
The elephant moves diagonally through one field. The field through which the move is carried out may have a figure. The elephant was considered a weak piece on the board, since it could walk only 8 fields on the board, while the modern elephant covers half of the fields.
The queen makes a move and hits one field diagonally. A modern analogue can make a move on any number of fields in all directions, unless another figure blocks its path.
A pawn can move forward only one field or strike one field forward diagonally. After the pawn reached the end of the board, it turned into a queen. The first move of the newly made queen could be carried out only on the second field diagonally or vertically, regardless of the employment of this field.
The concept of castling a rook and a king was introduced much later.
Various chess options
In historical chronicles, various versions of Indian chess are recorded, each of which had its own specific features:
Citadel – the game is played on a 10×10 board, which in the corners has additional fields, “strongholds”, on which fighting vehicles are located, which run like a modern elephant.
Four seasons is a variant of Indian chess on a regular board for four players.
Elongated chess – the game is played on a 4×16 board with a standard set of shatranja pieces. To limit the moves of the figures, hexagonal bones can be used.
Byzantine chess – the game is played using ordinary pieces on a round board.
Tamerlane chess – a chess game on the 11×10 board, which has additional citadel fields and pieces, as well as various types of pawns.
India, which is the birthplace of chess, has confirmed its high skill – Indian citizen Viswanathan Anand became the world chess champion in 2000-2002, then received champion status in 2007, and in 2010 he confirmed this title and still holds it.
In India, chess is still a popular game among people of different ages. The rules of the game of chess in India have some differences. Among the examples – in India, the first move of a pawn is possible only in one square, while in international rules – in two.