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Oblong chess. Variant of Shatranj, played on a four by sixteen sized board. (4x16, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2006-05-10 UTC
Note to the editors: I've sent a first version of this comment
anonymously, by mistake, sending too fast. Please don't take it and take
this one instead. Thx and sorry for the trouble.

Yes I'm sure of these rules. My main source is HJR Murray, who is also
the source for most of further writers, including Gollon and Hans B
nowadays. This variant of Shatranj is a mere adaptation of the regular
Shatranj to a rectangular board which has a Nard table on the reverse
side. All rules should follow Shatranj. In Shatranj, the Pawn is only
promotted to Firzan. By its deeper sygnificance, in chess, the King cannot
move into check.
On the 1st point, you mention 4-Handed Chaturanga. The oldest rules we
have for this variation are al-Beruni's. He didn't talk of such details
as promotion. For that, we have to report to Tithitattva about 1500. Then,
the rule is Indian fashioned and very late. Oblong Chess are first attested
in al-Adli in 840. Murray, who made the fullest study possible, never said
that promotion can be for something else than Firzan. He said that moves
and rules follow regular Shatranj. For me it's clear. Promotion to Rook
give another game, it is not Shatranj al-Tamula.
You say that if not allowed to promote to Rook it is hard to win
otherwise. I disagree: the most frequent win will be Bare King. It is also
the case with regular Shatranj, it is even more frequent with Oblong
Shatranj. This is why it is - I think - important to implement this
victory in ZoG, so the program can incorporate this outcome in its
strategy.

Concerning King's move into check, I think, with your respect, that you
mix 2 things. Playing with die, a King can come into check. If the player
do not get a 6 to move his King away or another number to interpose a
piece, his King remains in check. At his own risk. Murray, quoting the
Arab manuscripts, is very clear: the player should wait for the 6 and can
not play otherwise. If the checking player gets the expecting number he
can then TAKE the immobilized King. 

So, yes, a King can stay under check and lose when is taken only. But
nowhere it is written that he can move by itself into check. This would be
contrary to all rules of all historical chess.
Sorry to be so long. I hope I have clarified my views.