Traditional Board Games

Shatranj problem, May 2014

Shatranj problem, May 2014
Shatranj problem, May 2014

Saturday, 17th May 2014

It's time for another shatranj problem to entertain you. But first, you will want to know the solution to last month's problem. It's a very short one this time: 1. Rook h7-d7 (check), Queen c6xd7; 2. Pawn e6-e7 checkmate. This may have been from a real game, but the details given by chess master Al-Adli (that black had given white the odds of a rook and a knight) are obviously untrue, as black has both rooks and both knights on the board.

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.

But now on to this month's problem. This time, we let black have a chance. It is black's turn to move, and win. Note that, despite the notation, white's pawns are moving down from the top. Don't be shy: please do post your solutions in the comments section. You have a whole month to try and solve this one.


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