The Chess Variant Pages

Proto-Chaturanga

Chess origin is still a riddle. Many think the first form was Chaturanga, Indian name, or Chatrang, Persian name, known from the 7th century after Christ, is the oldest known form of chess. Others, think that the Chinese Xiang-Qi present several older features and should come from an earlier ancestor. The question is still open. If it draws you interest, have a look on the pages of the INITIATIVE GROUP KOENIGSTEIN.

For some reasons (detailled elsewhere) it has been interesting to study what could have been a seminal so-called "indo-persian" game with only King and Pawns. Such a simple game could be classified as a race game. We must be clear: this is a pure speculation and such a game has never been attested in any sources (so far ?). However, it is already fun to play and show what could have been the origin of the ankward moves of the Pawn and its promotion.

A Zillions-of-Games file is available, so you can play it.

Another reconstruction is the Proto-Xiang-Qi on the "Chinese" side of these reconstructions.

Opening setup

The game is played on an uncheckered board of eight by eight squares, also used for the Ashtapada a very old race game of India.

White
King e1; Pawns a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2.

Black
King d8; Pawns a7, b7, c7, d7, e7, f7, g7, h7.

Moves of pieces

The King moves 1 step in any of the 8 directions as usual king. Of course, castling doesn't exist.

The Pawn moves 1 step straight ahead and captures 1 step diagonally ahead as a usual pawn. It can not make a double step on its first move.

Promotion

Pawns can promote to a Firzan when they arrive at the last rank of the board.

The Firzan moves 1 step diagonally. (4 directions)

Mate and stalemate

There are three ways to win: checkmate, stalemate or isolate (leave it alone) the opponent King.

Play yourself Proto-Chaturanga

You can play Proto-Chaturanga if you own Z-o-G. Download this zip-file:

West-Protochess.zip.


WWW page December 29, 1999 by Jean-Louis CAZAUX.