The Chess Variant Pages



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Citadel chess - Shatranj al-husun

One of the widely played variants of Shatranj was Shatranj al-husun, or Citadel chess. The description here is based on the description in Gollon's book; in the books of Pritchard and Murray a description of the game can also be found. (Actually, most probably, all other sources base their information on Murray's description.) The game is played on a 10 by 10 board, which has four additional fields: the citadels. There are several different opening setups, we give here only one; for the others we refer to the other sources mentioned above. The board looks like this:
.          .
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
.          .
The four fields at the corners are the citadels.

Pieces

Players have the usual pieces of Shatranj plus two war machines, or dabbabah's, and two extra pawns.

The pieces move as follows:

King, knight (actually: Horse), rook (actually: chariot, called: rukh) move as in FIDE-chess.

The general moves one square diagonally.

The elephant moves exactly two squares diagonally, and can jump the intervening square.

The pawn (actually: soldier) moves as a normal pawn from FIDE-chess, but does not have the possibility of a first double move. Pawns promote to generals, when reaching the last row.

The war machine or dabbabah moves as a bishop from FIDE-chess.

Opening setup

The opening setup is the following:
.          .
 RNEWKGWERN
 PPPPPPPPPP
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
 ..........
 pppppppppp
 rnewkgwern
.          .
r, n, e, w, k, g, p stand for rook, knight, elephant, war machine, king, general, pawn. Lower case is white, upper case is black.

Other rules

When a king reaches a citadel at the opposite side of the board, the game is drawn. A player wins the game, by mating or by stalemating his opponent.

This game has - in contrast to Shatranj and some of its variants, no `bare king' rule, i.e., the game continues normally when one player has lost all its pieces but his king.


Last update: February 16, 1996.