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Shatranji

by Fergus Duniho

Introduction

Shatranji is a hybrid of Shatranj and Chessgi. It is basically the ancient Arab game of Shatranj with the addition of the capture and dropping rules of Chessgi. I created this game as an improvement on Chessgi, because the combination of drops with Queens makes Chessgi more lopsided than games like Shogi, which combines drops with weak pieces. Like Shogi, Shatranji combines drops with weak pieces. This makes it similar in appeal to Shogi, and it makes it more exciting than Shatranj, which is otherwise slower and less interesting than Queen's Chess, as modern Chess was called in its early days.

Pieces and Setup

The setup is the same as regular Chess, except that a General replaces the Queen, and Elephants replace the Bishops. The Generals go on d1 and d8, and the Elephants go on c1, c8, f1, and f8.

The King, Rook, Knight, and Pawn are the same as in Chess, except that Pawns do not have a double move, they cannot capture by en passant, the Pawn may promote only to a General, and the King and Rook cannot castle. The General moves one space diagonally. The Elephant jumps two spaces diagonally.


Rules

Shatranji follows the rules of regular Chess with the following exceptions:

  • Captured pieces change sides and are held in hand by the capturing player, who may use a subsequent turn to drop a captured piece back on the board.
  • Except for Pawns, pieces held in hand may be dropped on any empty square.
  • Pawns may be dropped on any empty square which is not part of the last rank.
  • Kings and Rooks may not castle.
  • Pawns may not make double moves and may not capture by en passant.

It also differs from the rules of Shatranj with respect to the object:

  • The game is won only by checkmating the enemy King, not by baring it.
Since the game is similar to Shogi, I will also mention two important differences from Shogi:

  • It is legal to checkmate a King with a Pawn drop.
  • Promoted Pawns remain Generals when captured.

Equipment

Shatranji should be played with two Chess sets, so that you can always switch a captured piece with one of the opposite color. Use a Queen for the General and Bishops for the Elephants. Alternately, you could use double sided Shogi style pieces.

Play Shatranji on your computer

A Zillions file is available for playing Shatranji against Zillions of Games. Shatranji is available as a variant in the Chessgi ZRF.

The picture used for the setup was taken from the Zillions of Games implementation of Shatranji. That picture was reduced in size and quality to reduce its bytesize.



Written by Fergus Duniho
WWW Page Created: Sun March 25, 2001.