Traditional Board Games

Shatranj problem, April 2014

Shatranj problem, April 2014
Shatranj problem, April 2014

Saturday, 19th April 2014

First, here is the solution to last month's problem: 1. King d6-c7, Rook g4-g1 (takes rook); 2. Queen c6-b7 check, King forced to move a8-a7; 3. Elephant g5-e3, black's move is irrelevant, because 4. Elephant e3-c5 checkmate. This position came from an actual game played by Rabrab, a 9th-century chess master.

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.

In this month's problem the aim is the same: white moves first and wins. Feel free to post your solutions in the comments, but also therefore avoid reading the comments if you don't want to see any spoilers!


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