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Evidence for Four-Player Chaturanga (al-Biruni)

1 pieces of evidence found.

Id DLP.Evidence.1984
Type Ethnography
Location Punjab
Date 0973-01-01 - 1048-12-31
Rules Four players. Played with two six-sided dice. A throw of 5 is counted as 1, a throw of 6 is counted as 4.Throws move the pieces as follows: 1: Pawn or King, which move the same as in Shatranj; 2: Rook, which jumps to the second diagonal space; 3: Horse, which moves orthogonally one space and then diagonally another space, jumping over any intervening pieces; 4: Elephant, which moves orthogonally any distance. Throwing doubles allows the player to move the same piece twice. Kings may be captured. Pieces are assigned values, which award the players stakes at the end of the game: King=5, Elephant=4, Horse=3, Rook=2, Pawn=1. If a player captures all of the other Kings and is still in possession of their own King, the score awarded is 54. The player with the most points wins.
Content Discussion of Four-player Chaturanga as witnessed by Al-Biruni during his travels to India (specifically, Punjab): "The play chess, four persons at a time, with a pair of dice, Their arrangement of the figures on the chess board is the following: As this kind of chess is not known to us, I shall explain what I know of it. The four persons playing together sit so asa to form a square round a chessboard, and throw the two dice in rotation. Of the numbers of the dice the 5 and 6 are not required. Accordingly, if the dice show 5 or 6. the player takes 1 instead of 5, and 4 instead of 6...The name of the King applies here to the Firzan. Each number of the dice causes a move of one of the figures. The One moves either the Pawn or the King. Their moves aere the same as in the common chess. The King may be taken, but is not required to move his place. The Two moves the Rook. It moves to the third square in the diagonal direction, as the elephant moves in our chess. The Three moves the Horse. Its move is the generally known one to the third square in the oblique direction. The Four moves the Elephant. It moves in a straight line, as the Rook does in our chess, unless it is prevented from moving on. If this be the case, as sometimes happens, one of the dice removes the obstacle, and enables it to move on. Its smallest move is one square, its greatest 15 squares, because the dice sometimes show two fours, or two sixes, or a four and a six. ...The pieces have certain values, according to which the player gets his share of the stakes; for the pieces are taken and pass into the hands of the player. The value of the King is 5, that of the Elephant 4, of the Horse 3, of the Rook 2, and of the Pawn 1. He who takes a King gets 5, for two Kings he gets 10, for three kings 15, if the winner is no longer in possession of his own king. But if he still has his own king, and takes all three kings, he gets 54." Murray 1913: 58.
Confidence 100
Ages Adult
Social status Elite
Genders Male
Source Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

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