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Shatar - Mongolian Chess

Shatar was the variant of chess, played for many centuries in Mongolia, before it was replaced by FIDE chess by pressure of the former CCCP. This game is a direct offspring of the medieval Arabic chess, evolving in a different direction as chess did in Western Europe and Russia. The movement of the queen is particularly interesting, as it has the combined moves of a Ferz (general) and Rook.

In 1993, AISE organized a `Grand Prix' tournament (played by postal mail) on Shatar. In later years, more Shatar tournaments were held in this game.


The same pieces and the same startup position as orthodox chess are used, but with the following modifications:
  • The King (Noin) cannot castle.
  • The Queen (Berse) can move like a rook or one square diagonally.
  • The Knight (Mori) cannot give mate.
  • The Pawn (Chu) does not have a double initial step, with the exception of the pawn before the queen. Pawns only promotes to Berse (Queen).
Rooks (Terge) and Bishops (Teme) have the same moves as in orthodox chess.

The first move of the game is obligatory: 1. d2-d4, followed by 1. d7-d5.

There are different types of check: Shak is given by queen, rook or knight; Tuk is given by a bishop, and zod is given by a pawn. As written above, a mate with a knight is forbidden. Moreover, one may not mate except by a shak (i.e., checking by queen or rook), or by a mate that is followed after a series of checks that included at least one shak. E.g., if we mate the opponent after checking with a knight, then in the next move with a pawn, and then mating with a bishop, then the game is won. If one mates the king without fulfilling the criterium, i.e., with a bishop or pawn, or after a series of bishop and pawn checks, then the game is a draw - this is called Niol. Also, if a player has only a king and no other pieces left, then the game is a draw - this is called Robado.

Written by Hans Bodlaender, based upon a text by Fabio Forzoni.
WWW page created: February 24, 1998.