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Shatranj (Chess, Chatrang, Zatrikion)DLP Game   

Period Medieval

Region Central Asia, Southern Asia, Western Asia

Category Board, War, Replacement, Checkmate, Chaturanga


Shatranj is a game derived from Chaturanga which probably began in Iran and spread throughout the Islamic world and into Europe. It is the game from which Chess directly evolved into its modern form, though Shatranj was known as "Chess" in Europe when it was adopted there.


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.

Murray 1913: 220-227.



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Murray 1913: 220-265.

Evidence Map

13 pieces of evidence in total. Browse all evidence for Shatranj here.

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Anna Comnena. Alexiad.

Grabar, O., R. Holod, J. Knustad, and W. Trousdale. 1978. City in the Desert: Qasr al-Hayr East. Harvard Middle Eastern Monograph Series XXIII/XXIV. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Keene, R. 2007. "Grandmasters of Shatranj and the Dating of Chess." In I. Finkel ed, Ancient Board Games in Perspective. London: The British Museum Press. p. 158–161.

Mark, M. 2007. "The Beginnings of Chess." In I. Finkel ed, Ancient Board Games in Perspective. London: The British Museum Press, p. 138–157.

Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.

Oleson, J. P. and R. Schick. 2013. Humayma Excavation Project, 2: Nabataean Campground and Necropolis, Byzantine Churches, and Early Islamic Domestic Structures. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research.

Semenov, G. 2007. "Board Games in Central Asia and Iran." In I. Finkel, ed Ancient Board Games in Perspective. London:The British Museum Press. p. 169–176.

Wilkinson, C. and J. McNab Dennis. 1968. Chess: East and West, Past and Present. A Selection from the Gustavus A. Pfeiffer Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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