The Chess Variant Pages
Custom Search

Puzzle Shatranj


The board is 8x8, divided into 15 boxes with sides of 2 squares, plus a squareless region in the upper right hand corner for White, i.e. g7, g8, h7, h8. This corner region is not part of the board.

At the start of the game, the board is devoid of pieces. However, before movement begins, pieces are dropped onto the board. Each player has the following in hand:
  • 8 Alfils
  • 2 Ferzes
  • 2 Knights
  • 2 Rooks
  • 1 King
Each turn, a player takes one of his opponent's pieces and one of his own, and places them anywhere on the board. This alternates between players. However, Kings must be placed last and only by their respective owners. Kings may not be placed in check. Also, Ferzes must be dropped on different diagonal bindings or "colors" as well as Alfils on their own bindings, which is a bit more difficult to see. That is, no Ferz or Alfil should be able to defend one another. For the Alfil bindings, the coloring of the board aids in seeing them because there is a unique binding for each quadrant of each color of 2x2 box. Once all pieces are dropped, pieces may be moved, but for the first five turns, you cannot move a piece to check a King. A King cannot move into check, however.


Pieces are as in Shatranj.


Rules are as in Shatranj, except:

Whenever a piece is captured, it is held for dropping by the player that captured it. However, it does not change sides. It stays the same as its original color. Thus, there are always exactly 15 pieces of each color. A piece must be dropped in the time between when the piece is captured and after the movement phase of the captor's next turn, plus a bonus of N turns for every N times a player has previously captured and released a piece of the same type.

In addition to the regular ways of winning from Shatranj, there is an additional way. This additional way is known as winning by configuration and is accomplished by having one piece of your color on each of the large 2x2 boxes. This is the "puzzle" element of the game, which is somewhat reminiscent of the classic 15 Puzzle.


In the 15 Puzzle, the object was to reconfigure 2x2 boxes by sliding them into a void, with a new void formed in the previous place of the moved box. This is however impractical for a Chess variant because it would take much too long for one to complete the puzzle while also having to contend with regular Chess matters, and the nature of extrapolating a single-player puzzle into a two-player game is strenuous. A better goal would be to simply occupy all the boxes of the board, which are immobile, where the boxes are more than one square in area to allow more than one piece to reside in a box at a given time, it being a two player game, and also by the deduction that if one has all the pieces to occupy N squares and they each must occupy 1 square and there are only N squares on the board, they must already be occupying them so there is no game to play. Though this goal is better, I am still not sure of its absolute effectiveness. In my mind it is fairly tenable.

In regards to my piece choices, these are the reasons. For the Alfil, it is known among serious variantists that it is 3 times colorbound and therefore 8 of them are required to access all squares on a given board. It is also known that an Alfil is approximately the worth of a Pawn. Since there are 8 Pawns in Shatranj, and Pawns would not be viable for a dropping variant with an oddly shaped board, I chose to have 8 Alfils to replace them. For the Ferz, since I had chosen 8 Alfils to fill all bindings of the board, I thought that there should be 2 Ferzes for each color as well. The other pieces are as in Shatranj because there was no reason to change them and I couldn't add any more without making the game cramped.

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 John Smith.
Web page created: 2009-01-09. Web page last updated: 2009-12-20