Traditional Board Games

Shatranj Problem, June 2014

Shatranj problem, June 2014
Shatranj problem, June 2014

Saturday, 21st June 2014

It's time for another puzzle for mediaeval chess, also known as shatranj. The solution to last month's problem is: 1. Knight f8-e6 (check), Pawn d7xe6; 2. Rook f7-d7 (check), Queen c6xd7; 3. Knight c5-b7 (check), King d8-e8; 4. Pawn f6-f7 (check), King e8-f8; 5. Pawn f7-g7 (check), King f8xf7; Rook c3-f3 (check), King f7-g8; Rook f3-f8 (check), King g8-h7; Rook f8-h8 checkmate. I noticed that on the third move the king could have moved to e7 instead, but it's beyond my chess skills to see why this was not discovered.

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.

This month's puzzle has two solutions. Can you find both of them? White is to move first and win. If you think you know the solution, please do post it in the comments here!


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