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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-06-02
 Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Tamerlane chess. A well-known historic large variant of Shatranj. (11x10, Cells: 112) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Greg Myers wrote on 2017-06-10 UTC

Thank you H.G. Muller for the interactive set up. It is hard to find anything interactive online regarding Tamerlane Chess. 


H. G. Muller wrote on 2016-12-01 UTC
files=13 ranks=10 promoZone=1 maxPromote=12 promoOffset=11 promoChoice=+ graphicsDir=http://www.chessvariants.com/graphics.dir/small/ whitePrefix=W blackPrefix=B graphicsType=gif squareSize=35 darkShade=#FFFFFF symmetry=rotate Pawn (P)::fmWfcF:Pawn:b3 Pawn (V)::fmWfcF:Pawn:h3 Pawn (G)::fmWfcF:Pawn:f3 Pawn (E)::fmWfcF:Pawn:e3 Pawn (W)::fmWfcF:Pawn:c3 Pawn (G)::fmWfcF:Pawn:i3 Pawn (C)::fmWfcF:Pawn:d3 Pawn (N)::fmWfcF:Pawn:k3 Pawn (B)::fmWfcF:Pawn:j3 Pawn (R)::fmWfcF:Pawn:l3 Pawn (K)::fmWfcF:Pawn:g3 Pawn ()::fmWfcF:Pawn: hole::::a1,a2,a3,a4,a5,m1,m3,m4,m5 Vizir::W::h2 General::F::f2 Elephant::A::b1,l1 War engine:D:D:Cannon:f1,h1 Giraffe::afsafyafF::e2,i2 Camel::::d1,j1 Knight:N:::c2,k2 Picket:B:yafF:Assassin:d2,j2 Rook::::b2,l2 Prince:F:K:: Adventitious King:A:K:MidBrother: King::K::g2

Tamerlane Chess

This historic variant is one of the strangest that ever required large popularity: many strange pieces, a 'citadel' square as board appendix to provide an alternative winning condition, strange to very strange promotion rules. Perhaps a bit too much to capture that exactly in an Interactive Diagram, but what can be done is already useful enough to make it worth the effort.


    Anton Grimes wrote on 2015-06-07 UTC
    you can (FINALLY) find a set here: https://www.shapeways.com/shops/chessexotic
    
    it's a 3d printing place, and sort of pricey, but the pieces look awesome.

    Daniil Frolov wrote on 2015-03-10 UTC
    Well, it seems that girrafes ("camelopardus") in Tamerlane's epoch was exotical and legendary in Eurasia, as much as "unicorns" (rhinos). Perhaps, in chess girrafes had only symbolic meaning. (Well, so as rooks in standart forms of chess at some points of time was supposed to be roc birds.)

    George Duke wrote on 2015-03-03 UTC
    Good question, everyone knows Hannibal's elephants crossing the Alps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_elephant. And Indian Elephant piece belongs as part of military in original Chaturanga of India that's certainly not fanciful.  What about Giraffe as military, perhaps historian John Ayer would know, or Gary Gifford, giraffes used for reconnaissance?

    Daniil Frolov wrote on 2015-03-03 UTC
    A historical question. Among usual military units, there are giraffes. Moreover - in another historic variant - Turkish Grand Chess - giraffe is the strongest piece, having the movement of amazon. (Of course, no question about the Grande Acedrex, as there most of pieces are named after exotical or fantastic animals.) Was giraffes actually used in army? Or it was simulation of hunt - as there was no mechanism that could control "neutral" piece (or there was no idea like that), opponent controlled giraffes you hunt?

    Daniil Frolov wrote on 2014-02-26 UTC
    I've noticed that i never seen photos of historical sets of this game. And ancient diagramm depicts pieces by ligature inscriptions. Is this game known only from old documents, having no surviving physical sets? It would be interesting to know, how non-standart pieces and variable pawns was originally represented.

    (zzo38) A. Black wrote on 2014-02-23 UTC
    If you don't like citadel to be a draw, you can make up the subvariant, moving king into opponent's citadel is a half-win. Maybe this way better.

    Kasey wrote on 2011-03-08 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
    Tamerlane Chess is my favorite chess variant. At first it may seem that the pieces are too weak, but I've found that when you are playing a chess variant with over 20 pieces to a side, it is better that most pieces have only a few moves. Otherwise the shear number of moves available that you have to consider each turn can be astronomical. Also, the fact that many of the pieces cannot be exchanged for the equivalent pieces from the other side actually makes the game more interesting. You must consider when it is worth it to make uneven exchanges.

    Meadmaker wrote on 2009-08-21 UTCGood ★★★★
    I finally won a game of this against zillions of games.
    
    For those who have never played it, but would like to see what a game
    might look like, I've created an annotated description of the game at
    http://gamesinmichigan.com/annotatedgames/tamerlane.htm

    Nuno Cruz wrote on 2008-12-24 UTC
    There is a free on line font that has the pieces of chess as well as of shogi.. but also of Tamerlane chess(!). I made a screenshot that you can see below.

    the link for this site is: en.grinningbit.com


    Nuno Cruz wrote on 2008-11-05 UTC
    This is THE REAL Shatranj Kamil!

    (Murray, A history of chess page 344, line 21)


    David Paulowich wrote on 2007-03-12 UTC

    Eric Greenwood proposed '... the Ferz gains the power to move 1 square straight back ...'

    See also the humpback in Whale Shogi. This is precisely the reversal of the moves of the silver general from Shogi.


    Anonymous wrote on 2006-05-25 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
    Thank you, everyone, for the kind comments on the Variants!
     
    Mr. Gilman is correct: One of the purposes of the expanded ranks is
    indeed
    to allow for coverage of more squares. I have played games where the
    position more or less was color-stalemated.
     
    Part of the charm of the game is the weaker pieces; however, it is very
    frustrating to not be able to attack a particular square when you need
    to!
    
     Variant 1 is designed to keep the flavor of the game intact as
    completely
    as possible while expanding the piece range to both colors. The GUard is
    a
    very useful addition with the limited abilities of the rest of the
    pieces.
    
     Mr. Ayer is correct; the the Prince [promoted King's pawn] and the
    Adventitious King [third-time promoted Pawn of Pawns] are not Royal until
    the Original Monarch is Captured. At that point they become Royal.
    [mating
    the Original King is sufficient whenever the Prince or AK aren't
    present].
     
    Variant 2 is perhaps my favorite; the picket/bishop is restored to the
    familiar chess move, the ferz is able to change color [without changing
    its basic function] the Giraffe is SLIGHTLY more mobile, and the war
    machines and elephants are MUCH more useful! The piece's powers are only
    slightly enhanced; the game flavor is retained while allowing a LOT more
    strategic options.
    
    Variants 3, 4, and 5 are for those wanting a little more firepower
    available. While the Queen and the increasingly Liberated Giraffes allow
    for more speed and tactical tricks, the rest of the pieces are the same,
    which makes for a nice alternative when the regular game [or Variants 1
    and 2] gets a bit stale. [a temporary circumstance, to be sure! :)  ]
    
    Regarding double-moving pawns: the slow pawns help to keep the game
    flavor, and that is why i left them as is. [Another part of the charm is
    the unique pawn designation on promotion]. However, feel free to use
    double-pawn moves in any of the Variants! It does make for a faster game,
    and that's not necessarily a bad thing, depending on one's individual
    tasted. Just let your opponent know! :)
    
    In fact, feel free to mix and match ANY of the rules to whatever your
    tastes are! For instance, Retain the Guard instead of the Queen in
    variant
    5. My Variants are just a jumping-off point; Let your own creativity
    shine
    forth! 
    
     Btw, there are a couple of alternate setups given. However, it is fairly
    universal that this one is the best one.
    
     Retaining the 'complicated' rules are, once again, part of the game's
    charm; And they are rare enough in actual play [except for the King-swap
    during a check] that they are hardly ever seen. just keep a set of Rules
    handy when playing to settle any questions.
    
     Thank you for the chance to explain the reasoning behind the Variants
    presented!  :)
    
      Eric V. Greenwood

    Quintucket (Luke) wrote on 2006-02-12 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
    Wow. I've never much cared for chess (except Xianqi which I can never get people to play with me), but this is great.

    After Tamerlane I had to try some of the other applets as well.

    Only found two new variants aside from this one that I like as much as this.

    If I get a chance I'm gonna make a set and see if I can get some of the chess geniuses at my school to beat me at it.


    Barett wrote on 2005-05-12 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
    I ended up making up my own board because i was bored... anyway, i think that the game is very good however i think that the opening could go a lot smoother with allowing the pawns to have the two jump as thier initial move, i would like some comment on this from someone more experienced because i'm not very experiecnced in this game, seeing as i haven't had an opponent yet, or played a full game out.

    Jonadab the Unsightl wrote on 2005-04-16 UTCGood ★★★★
    I really like the piece balance in this variant.  No one type of piece is
    very strong (I think the rook is strongest), but there are a number of
    different pieces with different abilities, and I think they are balanced
    quite well.  For instance, I disagree with the variant notes about
    liberating the giraffes; I believe they are limited the way that they are
    to prevent them from being too powerful; otherwise, setting two of them
    side-by-side could effectively control four whole files, which is just
    too
    much power for two pieces to have, even on a larger board like this.  As
    the rules are given, though, they are not so overwhelmingly powerful
    because they can be blocked easily by relatively close pieces, and so to
    retain their power have to keep some distance from the action, or their
    close range has to be protected by other pieces (a job I suppose rooks
    would be well suited for, if they are not busy elsewhere).
    
    I thought at first that the war carts and elephants would be weak, but
    upon further inspection they are useful and complement the other pieces
    nicely.  
    My only quibble with the elephants is that their moves are not very
    elephant-like (unlike the giraffes, whose move makes sense for that
    animal
    in a couple of ways).  But that is a very small thing, and the elephants
    are as in Shantranj in any case.
    
    The general and the vizir seemed weak to me at first, and then I realized
    that without castling, the king will need something to hide behind, and
    that is why those pieces are not very mobile.
    
    Regarding the guard variant, I'm not sure whether it's necessary,
    though
    it does seem like it would help.  The elephants and camels and war carts
    are balanced to some extent by the pickets (although I do like the idea
    of
    playing the pickets as regular biships, partly because it helps fortify
    their squares, and partly for symetry, since the horses and rooks are as
    in modern chess), and in any case both players are in the same bind for
    the squares those pieces can't cover.  Then again, the way pawns promote
    could upset the balance further; for instance, if a player were to get
    his
    pawns of camels, war carts, and elephants all promoted, he could have a
    strong position on those squares then.  On the other hand, getting one or
    two of those promoted on the opposite squares, plus the pawn of pickets,
    could have the reverse effect.  I guess I'd have to play it a good bit
    both ways to be sure whether adding a middle column is a worthwhile
    improvement or not.  I'm thinking it might be.
    
    I believe I would prefer to allow the pawns the initial-double-move
    option
    as in modern chess, mainly to help get things going at the beginning,
    since
    the board is a bit large.
    
    I think if I wanted to simplify the rules a bit, the first thing I'd do
    is toss out the citadels and the special draw and stalemate rules, and
    use
    regular chess rules for those things; I don't think that would upset the
    balance of the variant at all.  I might also simplify the pawn-of-pawns
    promotion rule also, perhaps allowing it to promote (the first time) to
    any one formerly-captured friendly piece the player wants back.  But
    these
    are minor quibbles.
    
    On the whole, this seems like a very nice, balanced, playable variant,
    with some fun pieces.

    John Ayer wrote on 2004-12-10 UTC
    Yes, I think most people who are good at chess would know about this game. This is one of the first variants known to the west, being described in Falkener's _Games Ancient and Oriental and How to Play Them_, published in the nineteenth century, and again in Murray's _History of Chess_. It has been described since in many books about chess and its relatives, or more generally about board games.

    Elk wrote on 2004-12-09 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
    Neat. Would you think most people good at chess know about this?

    Charles Gilman wrote on 2004-10-12 UTC
    What are the image files for the individual pieces? I can see a good use for piece images of two sizes in several of my own variants.

    Charles Gilman wrote on 2004-08-03 UTC
    I can suggest short names for these promotion rules. The rule in this game is the 'apprentice' rule, on the basis that each Pawn models itself on a particular piece from the start. Applied to most variants this would usually be the piece directly behind it. The rule in Chaturanga is the 'stabling' rule, on the basis that equipment is stabled there to equip the original piece as a Rook, Knight, or whatever and to equip arriving enemy Pawns (on pain of death?) to the same. Horses pulling chariots are taken to be a breed unsuitable for riding dierctly and vv!

    Jeff Rients wrote on 2004-05-08 UTC
    Ah yes, I see now. Thank you for providing a clarification.

    Michael Nelson wrote on 2004-05-08 UTC
    Not quite. Chaturanga allows a pawn to promote to the piece whose starting
    square it reaches--a pawn prmoting on a8 becomes a Rook, on b8 a Knight.
    It doesn't matter which pawn it is, only which square it promotes on.
    
    In Tamerlane's, the Rook's pawn always promotes to Rook no matter where
    on the back rank it promotes, the Knight's pawn promotes to Knight, etc.
    Here what square the pawn promotes on doesn't matter and which pawn it is
    does--pretty much the exact opposite of Chaturanga.

    Jeff Rients wrote on 2004-05-08 UTC
    <i>The individualization of the pawns is a complete novelty.</i><br><br> Doesn't <a href='http://www.chessvariants.com/historic.dir/chaturanga.html'>Chaturanga</a> use the 'pawn of ...' mechanic even though the pieces are neither so named or numbered? It seems the novelty exists only in making the pawns easier to identify. Is that what you are refiering to, the piece design and nomenclature?

    John Ayer wrote on 2004-05-08 UTC
    It is my impression that, while the original king is on the board, the prince or adventitious king is not royal; that is, that it can be placed or left en prise, and can be captured by surprise. I don't know what anyone else may know or think about this.

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