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Evidence for Shatranj

19 pieces of evidence found.

Id DLP.Evidence.765
Type Artifact
Location 29°57'0.00"N, 35°20'49.00"E
Date 0685-01-01 - 0749-12-31
Rules Rukh piece.
Content Rukh piece from Humayma in Jordan, from the dump above the cooking area of a household. Oleson and Scheck 2013: 503-504; Oleson 2019.
Confidence 100

Id DLP.Evidence.808
Type Artifact
Location 34°59'27.36"N, 39°10'45.27"E
Date 0750-01-01 - 0990-12-31
Rules Rukh piece.
Content Two wooden rukh found at Qasr al-Hayr, made from imported wood. Dark in color similar to ebony. C-14 dated to 750 CE ± 120. Found just over the pavement at the Large Enclosure's north gate. Grabar et al. 1978: Vol 1 189, Vol 2 291; Oleson and Schick 2013: 503.
Confidence 100

Id DLP.Evidence.1136
Type Artifact
Location 36°12'50.71"N, 58°47'45.92"E
Date 0800-01-01 - 0825-12-31
Rules Knights, elephants, rooks, pawns, king and vizier pieces, green and white players.
Content Set of Shatranj pieces found at Nishapur. Each type of piece represented. Some pieces are green, others are white. Wilkinson and McNab Dennis 1968: 2.
Confidence 100

Id DLP.Evidence.1137
Type Contemporary text
Location 33°19'16.16"N, 44°25'5.05"E
Date 0988-01-01 - 0988-12-31
Rules Name of Shatranj.
Content al-Fihrist bin Abu al-Faraj Muhammad bin Ishaq al-Nadim, Bibliography of chess writers. Murray 1913: 169.
Confidence 100

Id DLP.Evidence.1138
Type Contemporary rule description
Location 33°19'16.16"N, 44°25'5.05"E
Date 1140-01-01 - 1140-12-31
Rules Shatranj is played on an 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x Shah (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Fers (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rukh (chariot): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Pil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Pil. 2 x Asb (horse): Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Sarbaz (soldier): Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. Stalemate results in win for player causing it. The player who checkmates the king wins.
Content Manuscript 560 'Abd al-Hamid I library, Istanbul. Written by Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin al-Mubarak bin 'Ali al-Mudhahhab al Baghdadi in 1140. Contains portions of al-'Adli's Kitab ash-shatranj and as-Suli's Kitab ash-shtranj. With rules, openings, strategies, endings. Murray 1913: 171–172.
Confidence 100

Id DLP.Evidence.1139
Type Contemporary rule description
Location 29°35'47.21"N, 52°35'3.93"E
Date 0949-01-01 - 0970-12-31
Rules Shatranj is played on an 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x Shah (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Fers (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rukh (chariot): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Pil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Pil. 2 x Asb (horse): Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Sarbaz (soldier): Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. Stalemate results in win for player causing it. The player who checkmates the king wins.
Content Manuscript 1858 As'ad Efendi, Istanbul. Risala al-Lajlaj fi bayan la'b ash-shatranj, "'Al-Lajlaj's Treatise on the Demonstration of the Game of Shatranj. From Kitab al-Fihrist, Al-Lajlaj went to Shiraz to King Adudaddaula and died in 970. Murray 1913: 169, 173–174.
Confidence 100

Id DLP.Evidence.1140
Type Contemporary rule description
Location 33°19'16.16"N, 44°25'5.05"E
Date 1257-06-21 - 1257-06-21
Rules Shatranj is played on an 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x Shah (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Fers (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rukh (chariot): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Pil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Pil. 2 x Asb (horse): Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Sarbaz (soldier): Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. Stalemate results in win for player causing it. The player who checkmates the king wins.
Content British Library Manuscript Add MS 7515. Anonymous author, Kitab fi al-shatranj wa-wansubatihi wa-mulahih "Book of Shatranj, its Problems and Subtleties." Contains discussions of rules, opening, legality, origins, symbolism, classes of players, poetry, and strategy. Compilation of works by Al-Adli, as-Suli, and al-Lajlaj. Dedicated to a prince whose name has been erased. Unknown place of origin, acquired in Baghdad. Murray 1913: 173; British library: http://searcharchives.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?tabs=detailsTab&ct=display&fn=search&doc=IAMS032-003310657&indx=1&recIds=IAMS032-003310657&recIdxs=0&elementId=0&renderMode=poppedOut&displayMode=full&frbrVersion=&fctN=facet_creationdate&fctN=facet_fmt&dscnt=0&rfnGrp=2&rfnGrp=1&scp.scps=scope%3A%28BL%29&fctV=%5B-999999999+TO+1929%5D&fctV=Archives+and+Manuscripts&frbg=&tab=local&dstmp=1584717304499&srt=rank&mode=Basic&dum=true&rfnGrpCounter=2&vl(freeText0)=chess&vid=IAMS_VU2
Confidence 100

Id DLP.Evidence.1141
Type Contemporary text
Location 41° 0'25.38"N, 28°58'49.21"E
Date 1148-01-01 - 1148-12-31
Rules Name of Zatrikion.
Content Anna Comnena Alexiad II.6: "επι γαρ ο αθτοκρατωρ μετα το διυπνισθηται κατα δειλην εωαν την εκ των πολλων φροντιδων εγγινομενην αλμην καταγκυκαινειν αθελων ενιοτε συμπαιστορας ειχε των συγγενεων τινασ παιζων το ζατρικιον (παιδια δε τουτο εκ τησ των Ασσυριων τρυφης εξευρημενον και εισ ημασ εκειθεν εληλυθος." Translated in by Dawes 2000: 166: "For, on awakening from sleep in the early morning, in order to dissipate the humours engendered by his many anxieties the Emperor occasionally played at chess with one of his relations (this game was invented by the luxurious Assyrians, and brought thence to us)."
Confidence 100
Ages Adult
Social status Royalty
Genders Male

Id DLP.Evidence.1142
Type Contemporary rule description
Location Alfonso X
Date 1283-01-01 - 1283-12-31
Rules 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x Shah (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Fers (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rukh (chariot): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Pil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Pil. 2 x Asb (horse): Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Sarbaz (soldier): Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Pawn may move two spaces on its first turn. Pawns are promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. Stalemate results in win for player causing it. The player who checkmates the king wins.
Content Alfonso X, Libro de los Juegos, f. 2-10: "But among all the other games, they chose as best and most in common the one with the eight squares because it is not so slow as the one with ten or more nor is it as hurried as the one of six or fewer. And therefore men commonly use it in all lands, more than the other games. And the figure of the board is that it is to be square and it is to have eight horizontal ranks and in each flank eight squares which are in all sixty-four squares. And half of the squares are to be of one colour and the other half of another and likewise the pieces. Of how many colours all the chess pieces are to be. There are to be thirty-two pieces. And the sixteen of one colour should be arranged on the first two horizontal ranks of the board. And the other sixteen of the other colour are to be arranged on the other end of the board in that same way, opposite the others.And of these sixteen pieces eight are lesser, because they were made to resemble the common people who go in the army. And of the other pieces which are greater one resembles the king, who is the lord of the army and he should be in one of the two middle squares.2 And next to him in the other middle square, is another piece which resembles the fers (alfferez) who carries the standard of the king’s colours. And there are some men who do not know the name and call him “fersa” (alfferza).3 And these two pieces each one plays alone and does not have another in all the sixteen pieces that resembles them. And in the two other squares beside these there are two other pieces which resemble each other and they call them fils (alffiles) in Arabic which means the same thing in our language as elephants, which the kings used to bring into battle and each one brought at least two so if one of them died, that the other one would remain. And in the other two squares next to these there are two other pieces which resemble each other and everyone commonly calls them horses but their proper names are knights, which are placed as captains by order of the king, for the purpose of leading the ranks of the army. And in the other two squares on the end [f. 3v] there are two other pieces which also resemble each other and they call them rooks and they are made wide and stretched because they resemble the ranks of the soldiers. In the first rank are the major pieces that we said and in the second the pawns. And even though there are nine pieces in terms of squares, there are not more than six counting that they are doubled. Because the fils and the knights and the rooks which are six, become three and with the king and the fers and the pawns, which each count as one, they make six. And they put them thus doubled so that when one of them is captured, that another of that type remains to give check and mate to the king or to shelter him. Also they provided for the fers that when he should be lost, any one of the pawns managing to arrive at the furthest square on the opposite side of the board, where the major pieces begin, from then on they would be ferses and could play just like the former and move in that way. And this is because they rise from the status of the lesser pieces to that of the greater ones. The king they made so that he could not be captured but that they could give him check in order that they could make him leave from that space which he held, as though dishonoured. And if they cornered him so that he did not have anywhere to go, they named it checkmate which is the same as dead and this they did in order to shorten the game. Because it would become verylengthy if all the pieces were to be captured until only the two kings remained alone or the one of them. Chapter on the movement of the chess pieces The movement of the pieces was established also for this reason that we will tell you, because just as the king should not rush into battles but go very slowly and gaining always from the enemies and fighting so as to beat them, likewise the king of the chessmen is not to move more than one square straight or diagonally as one who looks all around him meditating on what he is to do. The fers moves one square diagonally and this is in order to guard the king and not leave his side and to shield him from the checks and checkmates when they are given to him and in order to go forward helping him to win when the game comes out well. But he can also on his first move jump to the second4 straight or diagonal square and even if another piece is in between. And this is in the manner of a good captain who charges ahead in great feats and battles and rushes everywhere they need him. And in this movement he joins forces with his foot soldiers and becomes one with them as if forcing them not to leave his side and to be as one in order to do the best thing and thus he guards himself and them, having some before him and standing before the others. And therefore when the fers is thus joined with the pawns, they call it flanked.5 The fils jump to the second6 diagonal square like the elephants that the kings used to bring at that time because no one dared to stand in front of them and the ones who were on them made them move diagonally to wound the ranks of their enemies so that they were not able to guard themselves. The knights jump three square counting one7 straight and taking the third diagonally in any direction. And this is like the good captains who lead the ranks turning their horses to the right and to the left in order to guard their men and conquer the enemies. The rooks play straight as far as they can move before them or behind or to the right or to the left. And this is like the ranks of the soldiers which go forward as far as they can or in whichever direction they understand will be best in order to more quickly be able to conquer those with whom they are fighting. [f. 4] The pawns do not go more than one square straight ahead of them like the foot soldiers of the army, they cannot move very far because they go on foot and they carry their weapons and the other things that they need on their backs.But there are also some that play the pawns to the second8 square on their first move and this is until they capture because afterwards they cannot do it. And this is like when the common people steal some things, that they carry them on their backs. Chapter on how the chess pieces capture The pieces’ capturing each other is in this manner. The king captures in all the squares that we said he could go, any piece from the other side which is there unless there is some other piece from the other side of that piece which shelters it. And the other major pieces do that same thing like the fils and the knights and the rooks but the fers cannot capture on the first move if it is played going to the second9 square but after it is played it will capture in the second diagonal square according to its movement. The pawns also, even though they can move to the second10 square on the first move if they want, they cannot capture in it but rather they capture diagonally moving forward one square. And this is like the foot soldiers who cannot wound each other being faced off straight in front each other, but he wounds the other who is to his diagonal because he does not guard against him as much."
Confidence 100

Id DLP.Evidence.1143
Type Contemporary text
Location Late Sasanian
Date 0531-01-01 - 0651-12-31
Rules Name of Shatranj, names of pieces, capturing of pieces.
Content WIZĀRIŠN Ī ČATRANG UD NIHIŠN Ī NĒW-ARDAXŠĪR: “The Explanation of Chess and the Arrangement of Backgammon.” Pahlavi manuscript of late Sasanian date. This tale recounts the meeting of Sasanian king Kosrow I and the probably mythical king of India Dewisharm, who played Chatrang and Nard together. It describes the names for the pieces (shah, farzin, rukh, pil, asp, piyadak). Panaino 2017; Murray 1913: 151–153.
Confidence 100
Social status Royalty

Id DLP.Evidence.1144
Type Contemporary rule description
Location 47° 7'36.16"N, 8°45'9.54"E
Date 0990-01-01 - 0990-12-31
Rules 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x Shah (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Fers (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rukh (rook): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Pil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Pil. 2 x Asb (horse): Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Sarbaz (soldier): Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. Stalemate results in win for player causing it. The player who checkmates the king wins.
Content Versus de Scachis: MS 365 from Einsiedeln, Switzerland. Verse describing the game of "Chess", with the rules of Shatranj, written in Einsiedeln Abbey. Gamer 1954: 740–744; Murray 1913: 512–514.
Confidence 100
Social status Clergy

Id DLP.Evidence.1145
Type Contemporary text
Location 42°21'27.28"N, 1°27'19.99"E
Date 1008-07-28 - 1008-07-28
Rules Name of Chess.
Content Will of Ermengand I, Count of Urgell, dated 28 July, year 12 of Robert of France (1008). Translated in Murray: "I order you, my executors, to give...these my chessmen to the convent of St. Giles, for the work of the church." Murray 1913: 405–406; Eales 2007: 164.
Confidence 100
Social status Nobility
Genders Male

Id DLP.Evidence.1146
Type Artifact
Location 58°11'14.78"N, 7° 1'29.37"W
Date 1150-01-01 - 1200-12-31
Rules King, queen, bishop, knight, rook, and pawn pieces.
Content Lewis Chessmen. 94 figurative pieces made of walrus ivory found on a beach at Camas Uig, Isle of Lewis. Probably belonged to four sets, but some pieces are missing. It is thought that they were made in Scandinavia, probably Norway, though others suggest Iceland. Their destination was probably Ireland, but they were abandoned here for an unknown reason. Dalton 1909: 63–76, pl. 38–47. Now in the British Museum (1831,1101) and National Museum of Scotland (H.NS 19-29).
Confidence 100

Id DLP.Evidence.1147
Type Contemporary text
Location 33°19'16.16"N, 44°25'5.05"E
Date 0720-01-01 - 0720-12-31
Rules Name of Shatranj.
Content Letter of Abd al-Hamid al-Khatib mentioning Shatranj, quoted in a volume by Wadad al-Qadi. Mark 2007: 18.
Confidence 100
Social status Nobility
Genders Male

Id DLP.Evidence.1148
Type Contemporary rule description
Location 33°19'16.16"N, 44°25'5.05"E
Date 0880-01-01 - 0946-12-31
Rules 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x Shah (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Fers (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rukh (rook): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Pil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Pil. 2 x Asb (horse): Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Sarbaz (soldier): Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. Stalemate results in win for player causing it. The player who checkmates the king wins.
Content Kitab ash-Shatranj by As-Suli, chess favorite of caliph al-Muktafi. Excerpts are known because theya re quoted in later manuscripts. Keene 2007:158–160; Murray 1913: 169ff.
Confidence 100
Social status Elite
Genders Male

Id DLP.Evidence.1149
Type Contemporary rule description
Location 33°19'16.16"N, 44°25'5.05"E
Date 0820-01-01 - 0860-12-31
Rules 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x Shah (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Fers (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rukh (rook): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Pil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Pil. 2 x Asb (horse): Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Sarbaz (soldier): Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. Stalemate results in win for player causing it. The player who checkmates the king wins.
Content Kitab ash-Shatranj by Al-Adli. Excerpts of this text are known from later manuscripts. Murray 1913: 169-170; Keene 2007: 158–159.
Confidence 100
Social status Elite
Genders Male

Id DLP.Evidence.1150
Type Contemporary rule description
Location 33°19'16.16"N, 44°25'5.05"E
Date 0847-01-01 - 0862-12-31
Rules 8x8 board. The pieces move as follows, with the number per player: 1 x Shah (king): moves one space orthogonally or diagonally. 1 x Fers (counselor): One square diagonally. 2 x Rukh (rook): Any number of spaces orthogonally. 2 x Pil (elephant): Two squares diagonally, jumping over the first. Cannot capture another Pil. 2 x Asb (horse): Moves as a chess knight. 8 x Sarbaz (soldier): Moves one space forward orthogonally; one space forward diagonally to capture. No en passant. Promoted to Fers when reaching the eighth rank. No castling. Stalemate results in win for player causing it. The player who checkmates the king wins.
Content Latif fi'sh -Shatranj by ar-Razi, who played with Caliph Mutawakkil. Excerpts of this work are known from later manuscripts. Murray 1913: 169-171.
Confidence 100
Social status Elite

Id DLP.Evidence.1155
Type Artifact
Location 39°40'13.61"N, 66°59'15.98"E
Date 0600-01-01 - 0712-01-01
Rules Chariot, elephant, soldier, horse pieces.
Content Incomplete set of ivory Chess pieces from underneath a mosque built in 712 CE at Afrasiab. Eder 1994; Semenov 2007: 169.
Confidence 100

Id DLP.Evidence.1156
Type Artifact
Location 37°48'14.43"N, 69°38'51.82"E
Date 0900-01-01 - 1099-12-31
Rules Pawns, elephant, horse pieces.
Content Incomplete ivory set of Shatranj pieces from Khulbuk, tenth or eleventh century CE. Semenov 2007: 170–171.
Confidence 100

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