Traditional Board Games

Shatranj Problem, April 2015

Shatranj problem, April 2015
Shatranj problem, April 2015

Saturday, 4th April 2015

The shortest solution to last month's shatranj problem is as follows: 1. Rook h8-h5, King a7-b8; 2. King b5-c6, Knight b7-d8 (check); 3. King c6-d7, Knight d8-b7; 4. Rook h5-b5 (check), King b8-a8 (or a7); 5. King d7xd8. Black is left with a bare king, which in shatranj is a loss.

A Reminder of the Rules of Shatranj

The start of a game of shatranj.
The start of a game of shatranj.

This is a brief reminder, for chess players, about how shatranj, or mediaeval chess, differs from the modern game.

The king, rook and knight move as the modern pieces do. The pawn only ever moves one step forward, never two. The bishop moves exactly two squares diagonally, and can jump over a piece in the way. The queen moves diagonally to an adjacent square, much like a draughts king.

Castling and en-passant moves are unknown. A pawn always promotes to a queen. Stalemate is a loss for the trapped player, and if one side is reduced to only a king then that player has lost the game.

The diagram shows the full setup of the pieces, and illustrates the symbols used for each of the pieces in the mediaeval game. For a full discussion of the game, including a full set of rules, see the Shatranj page.

Next month's problem has just one solution. White is in a bad position, but moves next and can bring the game to a draw. How was it done?


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