Shatranj (Arabic: شطرنج, from Middle Persian چترنگ chatrang) is an old form of chess, as played in the Persian Empire. Its origins are in the Indian game of chaturaṅga. Modern chess gradually developed from this game, as it was introduced to the western world via the Greeks.
The Arabic word shatranj is derived from Sanskrit (Sanskrit: चतुरङ्ग; caturaṅga) (catuḥ: "four"; anga: "arm"), referring to the game of the same name: Chaturanga. In Middle Persian the word appears as chatrang, with the 'u' lost due to syncope and the 'a' lost to apocope, such as in the title of the text Mâdayân î chatrang ("Book of chess") from the 7th century AD. In Persian folk etymology, a Persian text refers to Shah Ardashir I, who ruled from 224–241, as a master of the game: "By the help of Providence Ardeshir became more victorious and warlike than all, on the polo and the riding-ground, at Chatrang and Vine-Artakhshir, and in several other arts."
However, Karnamak contains many fables and legends, and this only establishes the popularity of chatrang at the time of its composition.
During the reign of the later Sassanid king Khosrau I (531–579), a gift from an Indian king (possibly a Maukhari Dynasty king of Kannauj) included a chess game with sixteen pieces of emerald and sixteen of ruby (green vs. red). The game came with a challenge which was successfully resolved by Khosrau's courtiers. This incident, originally referred to in the Mâdayân î chatrang (c. 620 AD), is also mentioned in Firdausi's Shahnama (c. 1010).
The rules of chaturanga seen in India today have enormous variation, but all involve four branches (angas) of the army: the horse, the elephant (bishop), the chariot (rook) and the foot soldier (pawn), played on an 8×8 board. Shatranj adapted much of the same rules as chaturanga, and also the basic 16-piece structure. There is also a larger 10×11 board derivative; the 14th-century Tamerlane chess, or shatranj kamil (perfect chess), with a slightly different piece structure.
In some later variants the darker squares were engraved. The game spread Westwards after the Islamic conquest of Persia and a considerable body of literature on game tactics and strategy was produced from the 8th century onwards.
In early Indian chaturanga (c. 500–700), the king could be and this ended the game. Persian shatranj (c. 700–800) introduced the idea of warning that the king was under attack (announcing check in modern terminology). This was done to avoid the early and accidental end of a game. Later the Persians added the additional rule that a king could not be moved into check or left in check. As a result, the king could not be captured, and checkmate was the only decisive way of ending a game.
With the spread of Islam, chess diffused into the Maghreb and then to Andalusian Spain. During the Islamic conquest of India (c. 12th century), some forms came back to India as well, as evidenced in the North Indian term māt (mate, derivative from Persian māt) or the Bengali borey (pawn, presumed derived from the Arabic baidaq). Over the following centuries, chess became popular in Europe, eventually giving rise to modern chess.
The initial setup in shatranj was essentially the same as in modern chess; however, the position of the white shah (king), on the right or left side was not fixed. Either the arrangement as in modern chess or as shown in the diagram were possible. In either case, the white and black shāh would be on the same file (but not always in modern India). The game was played with these pieces:
|fers or wazīr (counselor or ferz)|
|rukh (chariot or rook)|
|pīl, or "al-fīl" in Arabic (elephant or alfil)|
|asb (horse or knight)|
|sarbaz / piyadeh, or "baydaq" in Arabic (soldier/infantryman or pawn)|
Pieces are shown on the diagrams and recorded in the notation using the equivalent modern symbols, as in the table above. In modern descriptions of shatranj, the names king, rook, knight and pawn are commonly used for shah, rukh, faras, and baidaq.
There were also other differences compared to modern chess: Castling was not allowed (it was invented much later). Stalemating the opposing king resulted in a win for the player delivering stalemate. Capturing all one's opponent's pieces apart from the king (baring the king) was a win, unless the opponent could capture the last piece on his next move, which was considered a draw in most places in the Islamic world (except for Medina, where it was a win).
Three books written in Pahlavi, Kar-Namag i Ardashir i Pabagan, Khosrow and ridag, and Wizārišn ī čhatrang ("Treatise on Chess"), also known as the Chatrang Nama ("Book of Chess"), all mention chatrang. In Kār-nāmak it is said that Ardashīr "with the help of the gods became more victorious and experienced than all others in polo, horsemanship, chess, backgammon, and other arts," and in the small treatise on Khosrow and ridag, the latter declares that he is superior to his comrades in chess, backgammon, and hašt pāy. Bozorgmehr, the author of Wizārišn ī čhatrang, describes how the game of chess was sent as a test to Khosrow I (r. 531-79) by the "king of the Hindus Dēvsarm" with the envoy Takhtarītūs and how the test was answered by the vizier Bozorgmehr, who in his turn invented the game Backgammon as a test for the Hindus. These three Middle Persian sources do not give any certain indication of the date when chess was introduced into Persia. The mentions of chess in Kar-Namag i Ardashir i Pabagan and Khosrow and ridag are simply conventional and may easily represent late Sasanian or even post-Sasanian redactions. According to Touraj Daryaee, Kar-Namag i Ardashir i Pabagan is from 6th century. Wizārišn ī čhatrang was written in the 6th century.
During the Islamic Golden Age, many works on shatranj were written, recording for the first time the analysis of opening moves, game problems, the knight's tour, and many more subjects common in modern chess books. Many of these manuscripts are missing, but their content is known due to compilation work done by the later authors.
Al-Adli as well as As-Suli introduced classifications of players by their playing strength. Both of them specify five classes of players:
To determine a player's class, a series or match would be undertaken with a player of a known class without odds. If the player won 7 or more games out of 10, he belonged to a higher class.
Openings in shatranj were usually called tabbiyya تَعبِّيّة (pl. tabbiyyaat), تَعبِيّات which can be translated as battle array. Due to slow piece development in shatranj, the exact sequence of moves was relatively unimportant. Instead players aimed to reach a specific position, tabiya, mostly ignoring the play of their opponent.
The works of al-Adli and as-Suli contain collections of tabiyat. Tabiyat were usually given as position on a half-board with some comments about them. The concrete sequence of moves to reach them was not specified. In his book Al-Lajlaj analyzed some tabiya in detail. He started his analysis from some given opening, for example "Double Mujannah" or "Mujannah–Mashaikhi", and then continued up to move 40, giving numerous variations.
Both al-Adli and as-Suli provided estimation of piece values in their books on shatranj. They used a monetary system to specify piece values. For example, as-Suli gives piece values in dirhem, the currency in use in his time:
|Piece||Value||Shape of piece sometimes found|
|king||seat, representing a throne|
|rook||1 dirhem||rectangular block with V-shaped cut in top|
|knight||2/3 dirhem||cone with beak-shaped sideways projection at top|
|ferzan||1/3–3/8 dirhem||seat (smaller than king); or obelisk|
|war elephant||1/4 dirhem||cone with notch cut in top|
|central pawn (d- or e-pawn)||1/4 dirhem||small cone, or similar|
|knight's or alfil's pawn (b-, c-, f-, or g-pawn)||1/6–1/5 dirhem|
|rook's pawn (a- or h-pawn)||1/8 dirhem|
As-Suli also believed that the b-pawn was better than the f-pawn and the kingside alfil (on the c-file) was better than the queenside one (on the f-file). Furthermore, an alfil on the c-file was better than the d-pawn and the alfil on the f-file was better than an e-pawn.
Persian chess masters composed many shatranj problems. Such shatranj problems were called mansūba (pl. mansūbāt). This word can be translated from Arabic as arrangement, position or situation. Mansubat were typically composed in such a way that a win could be achieved as a sequence of checks. One's own king was usually threatened by immediate checkmate.
One Mansuba is the Dilaram Problem (see diagram). Black threatens immediate checkmate by 1...Ra2#, Ra8#, or either Rb4#. But White can win with a two-rook sacrifice:
Note that the alfil (bishop) moves two squares diagonally, jumping over intermediate pieces; this allows it to jump over the white knight to deliver the discovered check from the second rook with 2.Bf5+. It was said that a nobleman (playing White) wagered his wife Dilārām on a chess game and this position arose. She appealed "Sacrifice your two Rooks, and not me."
The 26th Filmfare Awards were held in 1979. Raj Khosla's Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki was named the Best Film of the Year. Amitabh Bachchan won his second consecutive Best Actor Award for his double role in Don. Satyajit Ray won his sole Best Director Award for Shatranj Ke Khiladi. The event is also notable as Nutan became the first actress in the history of Indian Cinema to win the Filmfare Award for Best Actress five times, breaking the record held by Meena Kumari for 13 years.Abu Bakr bin Yahya al-Suli
Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Yahya al-Suli (Arabic: أبو بكر محمد بن يحيى الصولي, 880, Gorgan-946, Basra) was a nadim (boon companion) of successive Abbasid caliphs. He was noted for his poetry and scholarship and wrote a chronicle called Akhbar al-Radi wa'l-Muttaqi, detailing the reigns of the caliphs al-Radi and al-Muttaqi. He was a legendary player of shatranj, a game ancestral to chess, and is still remembered to this day.
Upon the death of al-Radi in 940, al-Suli fell into disfavour with the new ruler due to his sympathies towards Shi'a Islam and as a result had to go into exile at Basra, where he spent the rest of his life in poverty. Born into an illustrious family of Turkish origin, Al-Suli's great-grandfather was the Turkish prince Sul-takin and his uncle was the poet Ibrahim ibn al-'Abbas as-Suli.Chaturanga
Chaturanga (Sanskrit: चतुरङ्ग; caturaṅga), or catur for short, is an ancient Indian strategy game that is commonly theorized to be the common ancestor of the board games chess, shogi, sittuyin, makruk, xiangqi and janggi.Chaturanga developed in the Gupta Empire, India around the 6th century AD. In the 7th century, it was adopted as chatrang in Sassanid Persia, which in turn was the form of chess brought to late-medieval Europe.
The exact rules of chaturanga are unknown. Chess historians suppose that the game had similar rules to those of its successor, shatranj. In particular, there is uncertainty as to the moves of the Gaja (elephant).ChessV
ChessV (short for Chess Variants) is a free computer program designed to play a large number of chess variants.
ChessV is an open-source, universal chess variant program with a graphical user-interface, sophisticated AI, support for opening books and other features of traditional chess programs. The developer of this program, Gregory Strong, has been adding more variants with each release of ChessV. Over 50 chess variants are supported. ChessV is designed to be able to play any game that is reasonably similar to chess. ChessV is one of only a few such programs that exist. The source code of this program is freely available for download as well as the executable program.
As of ChessV 0.93, it is possible to customize the variants it supports. Of all chess variants supported, two of the most-played variants are probably Fischer Random Chess and Grand Chess.
ChessV is capable of playing:
2 variants on 6×6 squares
17 variants on 8×8 squares
15 variants on 10×8 squares(including 10 Capablanca Chess variants)
15 variants on 10×10 squares
3 variants on 12×8 squaresSome of the provided variants can be customized in their details. It is also possible to create custom variants with ChessV 0.93. While the board sizes have to be 6×6, 8×8, 10×8, 10×10 or 12×8 and the pieces in a custom variant have to be chosen from a limited list, this allows ChessV to play hundreds or thousands of variants of each game it directly supports.Chess in Europe
The game of chess, or rather its immediate precursor, known as shatranj,
was introduced to Europe from the Islamic sphere, most likely via Iberia,
in the 9th or 10th century (possibly as early as at the beginning of the 9th century, and certainly by the mid to late 10th century).
The earliest reference to the game in Middle Latin is a poem de scachis, preserved in Einsiedeln Abbey.
Chess in medieval Europe was played in monasteries and at feudal courts. An exception is Ströbeck, known as the "chess village", where chess became popular among the farmers in the early 11th century already.Chess in India
Chess has risen in popularity in India in the last few decades primarily due to chess Grandmaster and former World Champion Viswanathan Anand.
As of August 2015, the FIDE World Rankings of the top Indian male and female chess players:
Viswanathan Anand is the world No. 11, with a rating of 2776
Harika Dronavalli is the female world No. 13, with a rating of 2579It is believed that the game originated from India as a successor to Chaturanga or Shatranj. The All India Chess Federation is the governing body for chess in India.Chess variant
A chess variant is a game "related to, derived from, or inspired by chess". Such variants can differ from chess in many different ways, ranging from minor modifications to the rules, to games which have only a slight resemblance.
"International" or "Western" chess itself is one of a family of games which have related origins and could be considered variants of each other. Chess is theorised to have been developed from chaturanga, from which other members of this family, such as shatranj, shogi, and xiangqi, also evolved.Many chess variants are designed to be played with the equipment of regular chess. Although most variants have a similar public-domain status as their parent game, some have been made into commercial, proprietary games. Just as in traditional chess, chess variants can be played over-the-board, by correspondence, or by computer. Some internet chess servers facilitate the play of some variants in addition to orthodox chess.
In the context of chess problems, chess variants are called heterodox chess or fairy chess. Fairy chess variants tend to be created for problem composition rather than actual play.
There are thousands of known chess variants (see list of chess variants). The Classified Encyclopedia of Chess Variants catalogues around two thousand, with the preface noting that — with creating a chess variant being relatively trivial — many were considered insufficiently notable for inclusion.Farshi Pajama
Farshi Pajama (also Paijama) (Urdu: فرشی پائجامہ, Hindi: फारसी पजामा, Bengali:ফর্শি পায়জামা) is a woman's dress that was worn between late 17th and early 20th centuries in Muslim courts of Oudh by royalty and ladies from privileged classes of Uttar Pradesh (formerly United Provinces of Agra and Oudh in North India). Modeled after the flowing gowns worn by British noblewomen, the complete outfit consists of three basic parts – the kurta or a long shirt, the dupatta or the long stole (an essential piece in traditional Indian wear covering the head and chest), and the third and most important, the farshi pajama, which is a flowing two-legged skirt held by drawstrings. It falls straight to the ankles from where it starts flaring flowing copiously onto the floor. The farshi pajama in this era is often called Farshi Gharara, a term not used before the mid-20th century and is considered a distortion. The confusion is said to be because of the Farshi Pajama's similarity with the Gharara.
Farshi means "associated with the "farsh" or floor (for example farshi baithak which is associated with sitting on the floor). When combined with the word Pajama, the term evolves to mean a bottom-wear garment that falls generously on the floor and trails as one walks. In reality, when walking, an expert wearer holds the dress by carefully pulling up and folding the excess flaring trail and holding it in her left hand, keeping the right one free. The large quantity (historically, 9-15 yards) of expensive cloth, embroidered using the art of goldwork (embroidery) and sterling silver wire threads (Karchob/Zari/Zardozi etc.), used to make a farshi gharara mainly reflects the grandeur and extravagance of the nobles and rulers of that era.
Different eras brought changes to the fashion and cuts of the dress. These variations were also dependent from one princely state's court to another.
Modified, smaller-length versions are still, but rarely, worn by women in weddings in India and Pakistan to recreate bygone elegance.
Movies such as Umrao Jaan (1981) and Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977) that depict Muslim culture of 19th-century Lucknow show noblewomen and royal courtesans wearing farshi pajamas.Jeevan Ki Shatranj
Jeevan Ki Shatranj is a 1993 Hindi-language Indian feature film directed by S. A. Chandrasekhar, starring Mithun Chakraborty, Shilpa Shirodkar, Farah Naaz and Charan Raj.Maharajah and the Sepoys
Maharajah and the Sepoys, originally called Shatranj Diwana Shah and also known as The Mad King's Game and Maharajah chess, is a popular chess variant with different armies for white and black. It was first played in the 19th century in India. It is a solved game with forced win for Black.Senterej
Senterej (Amharic ሰንጠረዥ sänṭäräž or Ethiopian chess) is a regional chess variant, the form of chess traditionally played in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is the last popular survival of shatranj. A distinctive feature of Senterej is the opening phase – players make as many moves as they like without regard for how many moves the opponent has made; this continues until the first capture is made. Memorization of opening lines is therefore not a feature of the game.Shatar
Shatar (Mongolian: ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯ ᠰᠢᠲᠠᠷᠠ Monggol sitar-a, "Mongolian shatranj"; a.k.a. shatar) and hiashatar are two chess variants played in Mongolia.Shatranj (1969 film)
Shatranj (lit. Chess) is a 1969 Indian Hindi-language spy thriller film co-produced and directed by S. S. Vasan. His final directorial venture, it stars Rajendra Kumar, Waheeda Rehman, Mehmood, Shashikala, Helen, Achala Sachdev and Agha.Shatranj (1993 film)
Shatranj (English: Chess) is a 1993 Indian Hindi-language film directed by Aziz Sejawal, starring Mithun Chakraborty, Jackie Shroff, Kader Khan, Juhi Chawla and Divya Bharti. The movie marks Bharti's last film appearance. Khan's son Sarfaraz Khan appeared as the younger version of his character. The film was a box office hit.Shatranj Ke Khilari
Shatranj Ke Khilari (English: The Chess Players) is a 1977 Indian film written and directed by Satyajit Ray, based on Munshi Premchand's short story of the same name. Amjad Khan plays the role of Wajid Ali Shah, King of Awadh, and Richard Attenborough plays the role of General James Outram. The film also features the actors Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Shabana Azmi, Farooque Shaikh, David Abraham, and Tom Alter, as well as Amitabh Bachchan as the narrator. This is the first hindi feature film of filmmaker Satyajit Ray and second being 'Sadgati'- another adaptation of Premchand's short story.Shatranj Ke Mohre
Shatranj Ke Mohre is a 1974 Hindi film starring Neetu Singh in the lead role.Shatranj ke Khiladi
"Shatranj Ke Khilari" (The Chess Players) is a 1924 Hindi short-story written by Munshi Premchand. Premchand also made the Urdu version titled "Shatranj ki bazi".Short assize
"The short assize" (French court assize = "short sitting") is H. J. R. Murray's name for a chess variant that was played in medieval Europe. It was somewhat like sittuyin but developed independently, probably to get the armies into contact sooner. It was current in England and Paris in the second half of the 12th century, and perhaps at other times and/or places.
The pieces started with the pawns on the third ranks, and the queen on the same square as the e-file pawn. These two pieces could not be moved together, and after that no two pieces of the same color could be on the same square together. But, before either moved, both could be captured together. After that, the usual rules of medieval chess (i.e. shatranj or similar) applied.
Murray records these two starting positions, and writes as if the players could choose the starting positions of their kings and bishops and knights and rooks. It is not known if the game had an initial setting-up stage like in sittuyin.
The ordinary European chess of the time was sometimes called the long assize to distinguish.Tamerlane chess
Tamerlane chess is a strategy board game related to chess and derived from chaturanga. It was developed in Persia during the reign of Timur (Timur's Chess), also called Tamerlane (1336–1405). Some sources attribute the game's invention to Timur, but this is by no means certain. Because Tamerlane chess is a larger variant of chaturanga, it is also called Shatranj Kamil (Perfect Chess) or Shatranj Al-Kabir (Large Chess or Great Chess), as opposed to ash-shaghir ("Small Chess"). It is distinctive in that there are varieties of pawn, each of which promotes in its own way.