Recognized Variant of the Month for December 2001. Twelve times per year we will select a
Recognized Variant for special consideration. Its web page will be reworked and improved and a connecting link displayed on all of our CV Pages. We hope to encourage CVPhiles to read about, play and explore this featured variant.
Shatranj is the
second known variant of chess. It was purportedly developed from the first known variant,
Chaturanga, by making a few minor changes. The game
first appeared in Persia around the 7th century AD and remained immensely popular throughout the Arabic world for the next nine centuries! Shatranj is said to have supported professional players, spawned several books and inspired its own body of chess problems.
is similar to that of Orthodox Chess, with Elephants replacing Bishops and Generals replacing Queens. The game was also played with Generals and Kings transposed; so in all cases, Kings and Generals face their own kind.*
King d1; General e1; Rook a1, h1; Knight b1, g1; Elephant c1, f1; Pawns
a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2.
King d8; General e8; Rook a8, h8; Knight b8, g8; Elephant c8, f8; Pawns
a7, b7, c7, d7, e7, f7, g7, h7.
*The positions for the King and General may also be: White King: e1; White general: d1; Black king: e8; Black general: d8.
Historians tell us that Shatranj is the immediate precursor of
Perhaps the quickest way to learn Shatranj is to understand how it differs from the Orthodox:
- The board is not checkered.
- Elephants replace the Orthodox Bishops. (See array.)
- Generals replace the Orthodox Queen. (See array.)
- There is no initial two-step Pawn move.
- There is no en passant capture option.
- There is no castling option.
- Pawns arriving at the last rank always promote to Generals.
- Stalemate counts as a win.**
- Bare King counts as a win, provided that your King cannot be bared on the very next move. (See below.)
- Two bare Kings (see above) count as a draw.
cites a rule variation that is not mentioned by all authors: A stalemated King may be transposed with one of its other pieces, as long as this does not result in check.
- If you have
Zillions of Games installed on your computer, you can
play this game. Download file:
- You can also play Shatranj by email, using the web-based Play by Mail system on this site.
- The ICC (Internet Chess Club) also offers Shatranj as the game "wild 28".
- You can play against a
Java applet on Ed Friedlander's site.
Original page written by Hans Bodlaender. Edited by John William Brown for the occasion of
Shatranj's selection as Recognized Chess Variant of the Month.
WWW page created: October 23, 1995.
Last modified: December 2, 2001.