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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 1998-01-13
 Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Oblong chess. Variant of Shatranj, played on a four by sixteen sized board. (4x16, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Anonymous wrote on 2010-09-09 UTC
It can be played with modern elephants and general.

George Duke wrote on 2009-03-13 UTC
16x4 that Ramayana uses is 1000 years old, and Ramayana unbalances the board with 20 outlier spaces. Hans Bodlaender show seven different set-ups Murray finds. Date of November 20,1995, makes this article one of the first dozens of CVPage. For example, A.S. Yurgelevich's important Chess-Battle (1933) only went up in 1996, and there were fewer than 100 posts in 1995.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2006-05-10 UTC
Note to the editors: I've sent a first version of this comment
anonymously, by mistake, sending too fast. Please don't take it and take
this one instead. Thx and sorry for the trouble.

Yes I'm sure of these rules. My main source is HJR Murray, who is also
the source for most of further writers, including Gollon and Hans B
nowadays. This variant of Shatranj is a mere adaptation of the regular
Shatranj to a rectangular board which has a Nard table on the reverse
side. All rules should follow Shatranj. In Shatranj, the Pawn is only
promotted to Firzan. By its deeper sygnificance, in chess, the King cannot
move into check.
On the 1st point, you mention 4-Handed Chaturanga. The oldest rules we
have for this variation are al-Beruni's. He didn't talk of such details
as promotion. For that, we have to report to Tithitattva about 1500. Then,
the rule is Indian fashioned and very late. Oblong Chess are first attested
in al-Adli in 840. Murray, who made the fullest study possible, never said
that promotion can be for something else than Firzan. He said that moves
and rules follow regular Shatranj. For me it's clear. Promotion to Rook
give another game, it is not Shatranj al-Tamula.
You say that if not allowed to promote to Rook it is hard to win
otherwise. I disagree: the most frequent win will be Bare King. It is also
the case with regular Shatranj, it is even more frequent with Oblong
Shatranj. This is why it is - I think - important to implement this
victory in ZoG, so the program can incorporate this outcome in its

Concerning King's move into check, I think, with your respect, that you
mix 2 things. Playing with die, a King can come into check. If the player
do not get a 6 to move his King away or another number to interpose a
piece, his King remains in check. At his own risk. Murray, quoting the
Arab manuscripts, is very clear: the player should wait for the 6 and can
not play otherwise. If the checking player gets the expecting number he
can then TAKE the immobilized King. 

So, yes, a King can stay under check and lose when is taken only. But
nowhere it is written that he can move by itself into check. This would be
contrary to all rules of all historical chess.
Sorry to be so long. I hope I have clarified my views.

M Winther wrote on 2006-05-10 UTC
Dear JL, are you certain of these rules? Bodlaender says about Oblong 
chess (above link): 
'Moving is not obligatory. In this variant, a win is achieved by taking the 
opponents king.' 
If win is achieved by king capture, then it must be allowable to move within 
check, and to let the king remain within check.  In chess variants with die, the
king capture rule is natural. Checkmate and check rules don't work properly.
As to the promotion rules. I am not convinced that all Shatranj variants only 
promoted to fers. In four-handed Shatranj pawns promoted to Queens. In the 
still older 4-handed Chaturanga, pawns promoted to any piece, but 
depending on which square they promoted on. The ferz promotion rule is not 
universal. The reason why I believe that promotion was to any piece is 
because, in this dice game, it would be too hard to win otherwise. As to the 
bare king rule, I did not enforce this because it's so unlikely to happen. With 
promotion to rook, the king will be captured long before he is bare. But all 
rules don't need to be enforced. The player can decide himself that it's a win 
when the king is bare.

Anonymous wrote on 2006-05-09 UTC
Dear Mats, there are few wrong things with your zrf, I think.
1) in all Shatranj, promotion is only for a Firzan (Fers, Queen). Never
for something else. (Whatever is on the board)
2) victory is also obtained by bare king, not only by checkmate and
stalemate. This was - by far - the most frequent form of victory. There
an exception if the bare king can also take the last opposing piece in
next turn, in this case it is a draw.
3) problems also with the die versions: a king shouldn't be able to move
himself under a check, independently of what can be obtained with the

Also, a player having his king under check is not allowed to move any
other piece except to remove the check. Otherwise he should wait for a 6
to move his king away from check. This is probably difficult to program,
but it is the true rules. 
Cheers. JL

M Winther wrote on 2006-05-09 UTC
I have now added variants without die to my Oblong Shatranj (chess).
The variants with die now play better. I hope that the setups are now correct according to Murray.

M Winther wrote on 2006-05-08 UTC
Moreover, in Juell's Zillion's implementation I found the following
errors in the setup:
Setup B: black's pawn chain is 1 rank misplaced.
Setup G: black's king should be on b16, not c16.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2006-05-08 UTCGood ★★★★
Hans, you made two mistakes in drawing those diagrams. According to Murray
(your source I guess, p 340), we should have:
Diagram 2: Black K on b16 (not c16)
Diagram 3: White and Black K on column b (not c)
I know this page is not new, but I just noticed that.
Best regards, Jean-Louis

M Winther wrote on 2006-02-25 UTC

Oblong Shatranj with die

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