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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2001-09-29
 Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Shatar. Mongolian chess. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-03-01 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

An interesting regional variant with some rules about checking the king that make winning a bit more challenging at times.

Ed wrote on 2013-07-18 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Rinčen and Montagu after him mention the old fashioned Mongolian custom of
asking whether the opponent was playing his bers bold or cautious (maybe
this was the question that the old lama actually was asking S. Cammann
before their game?) to signify the choice of the more and less powerful
moves for this piece (queen or dragon king).  I wonder if any of the
readers here have played this game with the shortened camel move (Kisliuk
describes it as 1-3 squares).  I have the quite unsubstantiated impression
that the "bold" camel is slightly more valuable or desirable to retain
than our bishop when the bers is played "cautious."  I have not tried the
shortened camel move against an opponent yet.  Thoughts, anyone?

I truly would like to know more about the ancient treatise that Montagu
mentions is to be found in the Ulaanbaatar National Library.  My attempts
to discover information elsewhere about it and what it may reveal about the
history of this game have been fruitless to date.

Ed wrote on 2013-03-31 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Thank you, Mr. Müller, for your advice!  I must tip my hat to the man of
greater ability; I am too dim to script a ZRF for shatar, it seems.

I have wondered if any who read these pages who are Mongolian or Tuvinian,
or who play shatar with Mongolians or Tuvinians, whether the modification
to the horse pieces (wind horses?) in this picture
signifies the enhanced horse (i.e., with Amazon power after the first move)
that Assia Popova describes.  It would be curious to see how a piece so
powerful, yet incapable of delivering checkamte, interacts with the other
pieces.  At least, it seems easier to avoid the draws that obtain under
shatar's special rules for checkmate.

Ed wrote on 2013-03-17 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
@Yu Ren Dong: I was reading an article of Ivor Montagu in British Chess of
1958.  He mentions that there is an ancient treatise on Mongolian chess in
the National Library of Ulaanbaatar.  I wonder if that source is cited in
the book on Mongolian chess that you quoted in earlier comments or if you
know whether that book has been transcribed or translated into other

@MatsWinther: I wonder if you have made a ZRF for Mongolian chess like your
very nice ZRF for hiashatar.  I have to say that scripting some of the
checkmate limitations has been a bit of a nightmare for us to attempt.

Best wishes!

Ed wrote on 2012-05-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
@Yu Ren Dong: In the book that you mention, 蒙古象棋, would you say
that 圖嘿 are a kind of special problem literature, a variation on
shatar, or a category of possible win conditions that has gone unnoticed in
English-language literature until now?

I saw that you made additions to the Chinese wiki page for shatar.  I
wonder if you might, please, submit to the editors a revision, expansion,
or additional page on shatar based on your research.  I would greatly
appreciate their permitting more data on this interesting regional form of


Ed wrote on 2012-04-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
@Yu Ren Dong:  Thank you for this additional information.  I would feel
guilty asking for copies of the whole book (pesky copyright laws and rights
to intellectual property, and all that), but I think that your response
answers the initial question that I wrote: there are superior forms of
victory, and these positions (and the ones that you put on wikipedia)
illustrate principles in problems.

I had considered that the enlarged forms of shatar might be regional: I had
wondered if there production might be related to the activities of Buddhist
monasteries.  It is wild conjecture on my part to think that Japanese
Buddhist monks might have thought up enlarged forms of shogi, and
therefore, that Mongolian Buddhist monks might have thought up enlarged
forms of shatar.

Ed wrote on 2012-04-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
@Yu Ren Dong: Thank you for this information.  I had seen this book
advertised and wondered about the content.  I wonder if it includes game
scores that illustrate the differences of rules, variations, etc.  I wonder
also if it describes in a more complete fashion the large versions of
shatar that I understand are played on 9x9, 10x10, 11x11, 12x12 boards.

You were very kind to supply these details.

Ed wrote on 2012-04-05 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
@Shi Ji: I was reading detail reported by an Italian anthropologist who investigated shatar, that the move of the bers, i.e., like shogi's dragon king and like the FIDE queen, are alternatives used depending on the status of one or both players. If one player is in mourning, the bers moves like the dragon queen; if not, the bers moves like the FIDE queen. I have not seen another source for this detail, and, since the anthropologist seems to have surveyed rules in the Republic of Mongolia, perhaps a description appertaining to Inner Mongolia might differ -- or not -- I am as curious as you are.

Ed wrote on 2011-06-25 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Recently I came across some shatar problem literature, a couple of
collections of what seem to be checkmate problems, but they differ in some
respects from international chess checkmate problems so that I wonder
either if we have a complete understanding of Mongolian checkmate rules or
of aesthetic conventions that may be dear to Mongolians in their chess
play.  In not a few of the examples in these collections the solutions
proposed are not the most efficient (sometimes the diagram has an immediate
checkmate by our conventions but that does not use all the material on the
board), involve the pieces gaining the checkmate from the initial position
moving only once, and seem all to end with checkmate being delivered by a
pawn.  I wonder if there is in addition to the prohibition of delivering
immediate checkmate by pawn a superior win condition because checkmate is
delivered finally by a pawn after a series of checks (maybe extra stakes if
a bet had been placed on the game?).  I wonder also if there is a
prohibition on repeated or multiple checks by the same piece.  I know of no
authentic shatar game scores on which to conjecture an opinion.

My inferences are based only on the diagrams and solutions to be read in
these Mongolian texts; I am completely sure that a chess master composing a
book of problems must not fail to see an immediate checkmate that someone
like me could recognize.  And yet, I cannot read Mongolian so as to
understand the description of the conventions and goals of such problem
literature as he may have seen fit to record.

I hope that a Mongolian shatar player could enlighten me.

As to identifying the historical source for chess among the Mongolians, I
wonder if this inference about pawn-delivered checkmate as a flourish of
good chess play would be another datum pointing to a Persian-Arab ancestor
rather than one directly from India.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2004-01-10 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
See a compilation of those wonderful Mongolian Shatar sets on :

Charles Gilman wrote on 2004-01-03 UTCGood ★★★★
The army from this game could be useful in a group of Chess with Different
Slightly-Weaker-Than-FIDE Armies. What is the literal meaning of Berse? If
it is something suitable I may use the name Berse to replace the
apparently unpopular Chatelaine in my piece article Constitutional

Serguei Trifonov wrote on 2003-09-02 UTCGood ★★★★
(Sorry for my rusengl) You can see mongolian chess's figures from bone of the mammoth (!)at official site A. Karpov

guest wrote on 2003-02-07 UTCGood ★★★★
nice site,I was just wondering of you knew of any places to play online, 
Let me know if you are aware of a place to play online. Thanks.

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