The Chess Variant Pages

Tiger's-eye Opera



A Mystery Quest: a Magic-carpet Ride is a short book by Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls of Merridonia


© SAE Nicholls 2019-2021

©-® Copyright with all Rights Reserved Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls (SAE Nicholls) 2019-2021


 ©-® = Copyright of Merridonia with all Rights Reserved.

The moral right to the work herein is asserted by the author Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls (SAE Nicholls) of Merridonia.

Merridonian Copyright with Reserved Rights or Trademarks or Emblems or suchlike are without limit.

Only those of Merridonia are eligible for the aforesaid Copyright or Reserved Rights or Trademarks or Emblems or suchlike.

Those of Merridonia are those that have been accepted as such by the author and stated to be so accepted by the author.

Merridonian Copyright or Reserved Rights or Trademarks or Emblems or suchlike require acceptance by the author.

Merridonia is a private world by invitation of the author only.

The work herein is subject to change at any time and in any way as the author sees fit.

The author has full valuation and revaluation rights in all matters relevant to the work herein and has the right to decide what matters are relevant to the work.





From A Chess Set

‘Western chess is often called International chess and this reflects the status this game has been accorded.....and Western chess is sometimes called the Royal Game and indeed many such as Kings and Queens have played and been enthusiasts of this game and its precursors for centuries, and still are.’

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by David Hooper & Kenneth Whyld, 1984/87

‘No game has surpassed Chess to the extent that it has commanded a following in all countries of the known world for many centuries.’




Mystery Quest: a Magic-carpet Ride

By SAE Nicholls




Iraq 847: The Arabian chess World Championship Match


Momentous Times I


A Secret Sealed – But What Revealed

 with Patterns in the Force




Brooklyn 1876: The English draughts World Championship Match


Not so Bonnie over the Ocean



St Petersburg 1914: The Western chess Grandmaster Tournament


Momentous Times II


 A Mystery Opening


Return to Reykjavík 1972: The Western chess World Championship Match


Back to Slovenia I


 A Simulation


New York 1997: A Different chess World Championship Match


Back to Slovenia II




At the moment this is very much ‘bits and pieces’ in process of being put together and some – indeed all, may not be included.


Iraq 847: The Arabian chess World Championship Match

Extract from: Contributions To The Game Of Chess

Posted on: May 15, 2019

By Habeeb Salloum/Arab America Contributing Writer:


‘The Arabs were also responsible for dividing the game into the three parts we know today: opening, middle and end games. According to C. Alexander in his A Book of Chess, the Arabs not only invented the World Chess Championship but also the Grandmasters. He states that in 820 A.D. there were four ‘aliyat’ or ‘players of the highest class’, and in 847 the Persian ar-Razi defeated al-‘Adli in the presence of the Caliph Al-Mutawakkil – an international contest that seems to carry a hint of the classic Fisher/Spassky clashes.’*

*The 1974 book Alexander on Chess (a fine Western chess primer) by C. H. O’D Alexander indeed states: ‘In 847 there was what sounded like the equivalent to the Boris Spassky v Bobby Fischer world championship match – a great master, the Persian ar-Razi, appeared and in the presence of the Caliph Al-Mutawakkil, defeated the champion al-‘Adli’…..and Bobby Fischer defeated the champion Boris Spassky in Reykjavík in a match that many say is the most famous Chess match ever played (it made headline news all over the world for weeks) after losing the first game following an apparent beginner’s mistake – a move sometimes called the biggest blunder ever made in Chess…..or was it, I’m not so sure – there is footage of him actually making this move and other footage on the match in the 2011 DVD Bobby Fischer against the World - the move was 29… Bxh2 and Boris replied 30. g3 trapping the Bishop, but Bobby at first seems to think he can save it with 30... h5 (30… Ke7! threating the b5 pawn – a tiny initiative that may have given Bobby practical chances to hold the game, if not so in theory.....or does it hold regardless, see A Simulation), and I wonder if he simply overlooked 31. Ke2 (a backwards move of the King, though 31. Ke4 followed by Kf3 – another backwards move of the King, may have been as good), then again see Return to Reykjavík…..anyway, there is much information available about this match that took place in 1972 - over a thousand years after the al-‘Adli v ar-Razi match.


But unfortunately there is, of course, nothing like as much information about the match as the Boris Spassky v Bobby Fischer clash…..

…..there are a number of references in books and online to this match but the one as quoted from Alexander on Chess with: ‘…..what sounded like the equivalent to the Boris Spassky v Bobby Fischer world championship match…..’ is the only one I have seen that gives this sort of perspective on the scale of the match, and the words what sounded like suggest a more first-hand reading or telling of the match…..but from what source.....  


…..first though let us take a look at the wider settings of things…..


Momentous Times I





A Horseman’s Journey by al’Adli

(Author’s title)




From Grandmasters of Chess by Harold C. Schonberg, 1972, 1973:

‘But chess in AD 847 was altogether different from chess today.’



A Secret Sealed – But What Revealed


Over a thousand years ago the Aliya as-Suli wrote of a chess problem that even then was already old:

‘There is no one in the world who would be able to solve it, except those I have taught to do so.’


…..the position is called as-Suli’s Diamond and a solution was not found and published for over a thousand years…..

…..but what was its fantastic secret that took so long to discover – or does it have no such thing at all*…..  


*There is a curious parallel to as-Suli’s Diamond in the field of mathematics known as Fermat’s Last Theorem (named after Pierre de Fermat and the last of his theorems to be proved, as it transpired) - the story is interestingly told in Simon Singh’s 1997 book of this name…..very briefly the story is that: Most students have heard of Pythagoras’s theorem that states ‘In a right-angled triangle the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides.’ and most students are familiar with the right-angled 3, 4, 5 triangle where 3^2 + 4^2  = 5^2  i.e. 9 +16 = 25, and there are an endless number of these where the numbers are whole numbers and most students of basic mathematics would understand the expression of this if shown as x^2 + y^2 = z^2 where x, y and z are whole numbers, however, in 1637 Pierre de Fermat discovered that such an expression does not hold true for powers greater than squares i.e. x^n + y^n = z^n  has no solutions where n is a whole number greater than 2, but it was not until many years later that this became known when his son, Clement-Samuel, went through his father’s notes to ensure they would not be lost and amongst them he found the following note in a margin of one of his books:

Quoted from Fermat’s Last Theorem - 

‘It is impossible for a cube to be written as a sum of two cubes or a fourth power to be written as the sum of two fourth powers or, in general, for any number that is a power greater than the second to be written as a sum of two like powers.’ and there was an additional comment ‘I have a truly marvellous demonstration of this proposition but this margin is too narrow to contain’

And so this theorem came to the attention of mathematicians, but if Pierre de Fermat wrote down his demonstration it is yet to be discovered and proof of this basic theorem was attempted by numerous outstanding mathematicians for over three centuries before proof was forthcoming and (according to Wikipedia) before this Fermat’s Last Theorem was in the Guinness Book of World Records as ‘the most difficult mathematical problem’ – or was it, I am not a mathematician but I would ask the question whether solving the value of the square root of minus 1 is not more difficult or the exact value of π…..then again is the square root of plus 1 really known – most would simply say 1, but minus 1 is also an answer, and so 1 (or plus 1 if you prefer) is an answer but not the answer…..these things are so basic to mathematics that perhaps it’s worth a closer look, but to return to Fermat’s Last Theorem… 1993 the mathematician Andrew Wiles presented proof of the theorem; it had been very difficult and had taken a great deal of hard work over a number of years, and it was also many pages long and did not seem to fit Pierre de Fermat’s description of his own proof - then an error was found in the new proof – but this was corrected by the following year and no problem seems to have been reported with it since, nevertheless it is perhaps of concern to those who put faith in mathematics and its seeming precision and exactness…..but as with sciences generally, for all its usefulness mathematics is not yet a collection of truths – who knows if they ever will be, and this takes us back to the very basic problems mentioned above…..

To be continued



Patterns in the Force

1. Beginnings

2. Departure

3. Change

4. Return

5. Endings



1. Beginnings


….the Northern Shah must stay within striking distance of the Southern General…..

…..if the Southern Shah can hold the Diamond his win is assured…..



      as-Suli’s Diamond on a 5x5 board

        South (White) to move and win


North: Shah d5, General (Counsellor) a1

South: Shah b3, General (Counsellor) c3


1. General b4, Shah d4

(If North moves his General to b2 he is immediately captured by the Southern Shah without reply, whilst moving his Shah to e4 or e5 leaves him too far away from the Southern General to recapture – these are his only other moves)

2. General a3!, Shah d3

(North has no move where his Shah can stay within the necessary two squares striking distance of South’s General – if he moves to c5 he is no nearer to this than d3 since b4 is covered by South’s General)

3. Shah a2, Shah c3

(Whatever North plays makes no difference )

4. Shah captures a1 and Wins




From Alexander on Chess by C. H. O’D Alexander, 1974:

‘Towards the end of the fifteenth century, however, a change took place that revolutionized the game: the modern moves of the Queen and Bishop were introduced.’



Brooklyn 1876: The English draughts World Championship Match


Not so Bonnie over the Ocean

From a Traditional Scottish folk song:

‘Bring back my Bonnie to me’



St Petersburg 1914: The Western chess Grandmaster Tournament

Extracts from Grandmasters of Chess:

‘In 1914, Nicholas II, Czar of all the Russians, was host to a great chess tournament instigated by the St Petersburg Chess Society*…..The world’s most important players took part…..At the banquet concluding the match, the Czar named the first five players the Grandmasters of Chess: Emanuel Lasker, Jose Raul Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Siegbert Tarrasch, and Frank Marshall.’

*Spectator receipts were a record at the time.


And the tournament seems to have had everything you could ask for…..


Momentous Times II


A Mystery Opening


Return to Reykjavík 1972: The Western chess World Championship Match

From Bobby Fischer: A Study of his approach to Chess by Elie Agur, 1992:

‘Quick as a flash came Bobby’s move. (24. C6!)’ - Tigran Petrosian reflecting on a Slovenia, 1961 game


From Grandmasters of Chess:

‘Then, without thinking very long over it, Bobby made his notorious twenty-ninth move (29… Bxh2?)…..’


!?.....But are things what they seem…..


From Grandmasters of Chess:

‘There was a growing feeling that Bobby Fischer was not only the greatest player of his time; he probably was the greatest player of all time.’

‘Was it a blunder or a deep conception that mis-fired?'



Back to Slovenia I


A Simulation


New York 1997: A Different chess World Championship Match

From Bobby Fischer: A Study of his approach to Chess:

‘I still remember the days of the world championship match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in 1972.’ – Garry Kasparov in the forward


Back to Slovenia II



To be continued (possibly)


A Mystery Quest finishes but

A Chess Set continues





Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls of Rhun, Merridonia

Thursday, 4th November 2021




Page finishes




This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Glenn Nicholls.

Last revised by Glenn Nicholls.

Web page created: 2015-11-16. Web page last updated: 2015-11-16