Chaturaji


Chaturaji
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 sy b8 py c8 black king d8 black king e8 black king f8 black upside-down bishop g8 black knight h8 black upside-down knight 8
7 a7 ny b7 py c7 black king d7 black king e7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn 7
6 a6 ey b6 py c6 black king d6 black king e6 black king f6 black king g6 black king h6 black king 6
5 a5 ky b5 py c5 black king d5 black king e5 black king f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 black king d4 black king e4 black king f4 black king g4 pr h4 kr 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 black king d3 black king e3 black king f3 black king g3 pr h3 er 3
2 a2 pg b2 pg c2 pg d2 pg e2 black king f2 black king g2 pr h2 nr 2
1 a1 sg b1 ng c1 eg d1 kg e1 black king f1 black king g1 pr h1 sr 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Chaturaji, starting position. Pieces with different colors were used for each of four players.

Chaturaji (means "four kings", also known as "Choupat", IAST Caupāṭ, IPA: [tʃɔːˈpaːʈ]) is a four player chess-like game. It was first described in detail circa 1030 by Biruni in his India book.[1] Originally, this was a game of chance: the pieces to be moved were decided by rolling two dice. A diceless variant of the game was still played in India at the close of the 19th century.

Contents

History

The ancient Indian epic Mahabharata contains a reference to a game, which could be Chaturaji:[2]

Presenting myself as a Brahmana, Kanka by name, skilled in dice and fond of play, I shall become a courtier of that high-souled king. And moving upon chess-boards beautiful pawns made of ivory, of blue and yellow and red and white hue, by throws of black and red dice. I shall entertain the king with his courtiers and friends.

However, there is no certainty whether the mentioned game is really a chess-like game like Chaturaji, or a race game like Pachisi.

Captain Cox and professor Forbes put forth a theory (the Cox-Forbes theory), that Chaturaji is a predecessor of Chaturanga and hence the ancestor of modern chess. An even stronger version of this theory was put forward by Prof. Stewart Culin.[3] However, this theory was rejected by Murray,[1] modern scholars siding with Murray.

Rules

Piece moves

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 black king b8 black king c8 black king d8 cross e8 black king f8 black king g8 black king h8 cross 8
7 a7 black king b7 black king c7 black king d7 black king e7 black king f7 black king g7 black king h7 black king 7
6 a6 black king b6 black king c6 black king d6 black king e6 black king f6 black upside-down knight g6 black king h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black king d5 black king e5 black king f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 black king d4 cross e4 black king f4 black king g4 black king h4 cross 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 black king d3 black king e3 black king f3 black king g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 black king b2 black king c2 black king d2 black king e2 black king f2 black king g2 black king h2 black king 2
1 a1 black king b1 black king c1 black king d1 black king e1 black king f1 black king g1 black king h1 black king 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Boat move. The boat at f6 can move to any of the four squares marked with a cross.

The game is played with pieces of four different colors as shown in the diagram. Each player has four pieces on the back rank with four pawns in front of them on the second rank. The four pieces are king, elephant, horse and boat (or ship in some sources). The king moves like the chess king, the elephant like the chess rook and the horse like the chess knight. The boat corresponds to the chess bishop but has a more restricted range, like the alfil in Shatranj. The boat moves two squares diagonally in any direction as shown in the diagram, jumping over the intervening square. Note that this differs from most ancient chess-like games where it is the elephant which normally corresponds to the chess bishop.

The pawn also moves as in chess, but does not have the option of an initial double-square move. Each of the four players' pawns moves and captures in a different direction along the board, as one would expect from the initial player's setup. For example, the red pawns which start on the g-file above move left across the board, promoting on the a-file. Also, the pawn's promotion rules are different; one must promote to the piece that starts on the same file (or rank) of the promotion square (king included) and one can promote only after one's piece of that type has been captured.

Boat triumph

Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
8 a8 black king b8 black king c8 black king d8 black king e8 black king f8 black king g8 black king h8 black king 8
7 a7 black king b7 black king c7 black king d7 black king e7 black king f7 black king g7 black king h7 black king 7
6 a6 black king b6 black king c6 black king d6 black king e6 black king f6 black king g6 black king h6 black king 6
5 a5 black king b5 black king c5 black king d5 sr e5 cross f5 black king g5 black king h5 black king 5
4 a4 black king b4 black king c4 black king d4 black upside-down knight e4 sy f4 black king g4 black king h4 black king 4
3 a3 black king b3 black king c3 sg d3 black king e3 black king f3 black king g3 black king h3 black king 3
2 a2 black king b2 black king c2 black king d2 black king e2 black king f2 black king g2 black king h2 black king 2
1 a1 black king b1 black king c1 black king d1 black king e1 black king f1 black king g1 black king h1 black king 1
Solid white.svg a b c d e f g h Solid white.svg
Boat triumph rule. Green boat c3 can capture all other boats by moving to e5. All boats shown belong to different players.

When a boat moves in such a way that a 2x2 square filled with boats is formed, it captures all three boats of other players (see diagram). This rule is called boat triumph.

Dice throws

On each turn two dice are thrown. Usually oblong (four sided) stick dice were used. Players were allowed to throw the dice in the air and catch them, exercising some control over the outcome. However, playing with cubic dice is also possible. Pieces to be moved are determined by dice numbers (note that the stick dice didn't have 1 and 6):

  • 1 or 5 - pawn or king
  • 2 - boat
  • 3 - knight
  • 4 or 6 - elephant

On each turn two moves may be made, one for each die. The same or two different pieces may be moved, and the player may skip one or both of his moves if desired.

Scoring

There is no check or checkmate. The king can be captured like any other piece. The goal of the game is to collect as many points as possible. Points are scored by capturing opponents' pieces, according to this scale:

  • pawn - 1
  • boat - 2
  • knight - 3
  • elephant - 4
  • king - 5.

A score of 54 points is awarded to a player who manages to capture all three opponents' kings while his own king remains on the board. This value is a sum of points of all pieces in three armies.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Murray, H.J.R. (1913). A History of Chess. Benjamin Press (originally published by Oxford University Press). ISBN 0-936-317-01-9. 
  2. ^ Mahabharata, Book 4, Section 1
  3. ^ Four-Handed Chaturanga by Jean-Louis Cazaux.

Further reading

External links


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