Check out Glinski's Hexagonal Chess, our featured variant for May, 2024.

[ Help | Earliest Comments | Latest Comments ]
[ List All Subjects of Discussion | Create New Subject of Discussion ]
[ List Latest Comments Only For Pages | Games | Rated Pages | Rated Games | Subjects of Discussion ]

Comments/Ratings for a Single Item

Later Reverse Order EarlierEarliest
Shatar. Mongolian chess. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
bukovski wrote on Wed, Jun 30, 2021 11:09 PM UTC in reply to Kevin Pacey from Thu Mar 1 2018 09:13 AM:

Is there a Mongolian reader of this site who can tell if there is good historical value in this book:, the parallel Chinese title of which seems to say it treats the historical origin of shatar? It is a little perplexing or enticing that the cover seems to sport the playing board for ix buga, a version of merels, maybe?

Kevin Pacey wrote on Thu, Mar 1, 2018 09:13 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

An interesting regional variant with some rules about checking the king that make winning a bit more challenging at times.

George Duke wrote on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 06:33 PM UTC:

Mongolia and China were often at odds in humanity bloody history. Founder Bodlaender put this up 18 1/2 years ago. What inspired a look-see where to put this quote is 5 c. bce Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War'.

(23-25) On the field of battle, the spoken word does carry far enough; hence the institution of Gongs and Drums. Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enouigh; hence the institution of Banners and Flags. Gongs and drums, banners and flags, are means whereby the ears and eyes of the host may be focused on one particular point. The host thus forming a single united body, it is impossible either for the brave to advance alone, or for the cowardly to retreat alone. This is the art of handling large masses of men.

Ed wrote on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 01:07 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
Rinčen and Montagu after him mention the old fashioned Mongolian custom of
asking whether the opponent was playing his bers bold or cautious (maybe
this was the question that the old lama actually was asking S. Cammann
before their game?) to signify the choice of the more and less powerful
moves for this piece (queen or dragon king).  I wonder if any of the
readers here have played this game with the shortened camel move (Kisliuk
describes it as 1-3 squares).  I have the quite unsubstantiated impression
that the "bold" camel is slightly more valuable or desirable to retain
than our bishop when the bers is played "cautious."  I have not tried the
shortened camel move against an opponent yet.  Thoughts, anyone?

I truly would like to know more about the ancient treatise that Montagu
mentions is to be found in the Ulaanbaatar National Library.  My attempts
to discover information elsewhere about it and what it may reveal about the
history of this game have been fruitless to date.

Ed wrote on Sun, Mar 31, 2013 08:38 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
Thank you, Mr. Müller, for your advice!  I must tip my hat to the man of
greater ability; I am too dim to script a ZRF for shatar, it seems.

I have wondered if any who read these pages who are Mongolian or Tuvinian,
or who play shatar with Mongolians or Tuvinians, whether the modification
to the horse pieces (wind horses?) in this picture
signifies the enhanced horse (i.e., with Amazon power after the first move)
that Assia Popova describes.  It would be curious to see how a piece so
powerful, yet incapable of delivering checkamte, interacts with the other
pieces.  At least, it seems easier to avoid the draws that obtain under
shatar's special rules for checkmate.

H. G. Muller wrote on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 11:32 AM UTC:
In Shogi there is a similar rule, that you cannot mate by dropping a pawn. This was quite easy to implement in my Shogi engine, by reversing the result of a detected checkmate when the previous move was a Pawn drop. So it was not treated as illegal, but just losing to do it. (Which is basically the way engines treat exposing your own King to check as well.)

It seems that most of the cases described for Shatar could be solved by this method too. The only difference is that it might have to look somewhat further back along the branch, to see if there was a shak.

Ed wrote on Sun, Mar 17, 2013 08:22 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
@Yu Ren Dong: I was reading an article of Ivor Montagu in British Chess of
1958.  He mentions that there is an ancient treatise on Mongolian chess in
the National Library of Ulaanbaatar.  I wonder if that source is cited in
the book on Mongolian chess that you quoted in earlier comments or if you
know whether that book has been transcribed or translated into other

@MatsWinther: I wonder if you have made a ZRF for Mongolian chess like your
very nice ZRF for hiashatar.  I have to say that scripting some of the
checkmate limitations has been a bit of a nightmare for us to attempt.

Best wishes!

Yu Ren Dong wrote on Sat, Dec 8, 2012 05:18 PM UTC:

I did edit.

Ed wrote on Mon, May 14, 2012 03:46 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
@Yu Ren Dong: In the book that you mention, 蒙古象棋, would you say
that 圖嘿 are a kind of special problem literature, a variation on
shatar, or a category of possible win conditions that has gone unnoticed in
English-language literature until now?

I saw that you made additions to the Chinese wiki page for shatar.  I
wonder if you might, please, submit to the editors a revision, expansion,
or additional page on shatar based on your research.  I would greatly
appreciate their permitting more data on this interesting regional form of


Yu Ren Dong wrote on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 01:37 PM UTC:
I see. If you need more information, please ask me.

圖嘿 is like that a skillful cat catched a mouse and played it.

Ed wrote on Sun, Apr 29, 2012 07:04 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
@Yu Ren Dong:  Thank you for this additional information.  I would feel
guilty asking for copies of the whole book (pesky copyright laws and rights
to intellectual property, and all that), but I think that your response
answers the initial question that I wrote: there are superior forms of
victory, and these positions (and the ones that you put on wikipedia)
illustrate principles in problems.

I had considered that the enlarged forms of shatar might be regional: I had
wondered if there production might be related to the activities of Buddhist
monasteries.  It is wild conjecture on my part to think that Japanese
Buddhist monks might have thought up enlarged forms of shogi, and
therefore, that Mongolian Buddhist monks might have thought up enlarged
forms of shatar.

Yu Ren Dong wrote on Sun, Apr 29, 2012 06:49 AM UTC:
"I wonder if it includes game scores that illustrate the differences of rules, variations, etc. "

Differences of rules are just mentioned in text. He said there are different checkmate rules in different locations of Mongolia, players must discuss to use which rules before starting. For instant , checkmate by Horse or Camel ,or bare-mate is not allowed in some locations.  

Most pictures are 圖嘿.

Before checkmated by White Camel, Black was under three consecutive Check.
So White got three 圖嘿.

There are two records of old rules game in this book. Author played one in one town of Xilin Gol League in 3/12/1983. In this game, pawn reached the 4st row from the last row to promote to FIDE Queen and Author use Camel to checkmate and got five 圖嘿.

I have written three 圖嘿 in Chinese Wikipedia. 

"I wonder also if it describes in a more complete fashion the large versions of shatar that I understand are played on 9x9, 10x10, 11x11, 12x12 boards."

Author never mentioned any large variant. I think that Hiashatar may be not appeared in Inner Mongolia. Author lived in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia of China.

If you need this book, I would scan all pages of book for gift.

Ed wrote on Sat, Apr 28, 2012 03:02 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
@Yu Ren Dong: Thank you for this information.  I had seen this book
advertised and wondered about the content.  I wonder if it includes game
scores that illustrate the differences of rules, variations, etc.  I wonder
also if it describes in a more complete fashion the large versions of
shatar that I understand are played on 9x9, 10x10, 11x11, 12x12 boards.

You were very kind to supply these details.

Yu Ren Dong wrote on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 01:53 PM UTC:
Mr. Ed, I could tell answer.  It is called 圖嘿.

Recently, I got a Shatar book(259 pages).

This book's name is 蒙古象棋.

This book was wrote by a passed  Mongol man 彭楚克林青, and translated to Chinese by his son.  彭楚克林青 said some old rules in Shatar.


1. Open: There are two kind Open in Shatar.

Chahar Style:Two players must do double initial move with the king’s pawn.

Ujimqin Style:Two players must do double initial move with the Queen’s pawn.

2. Pomotion:

Pawn reaching the last row couldn't  promote. But it could move diagonally backward one step. When Pwan reaches the 4st  row  from the last row, it could only promote to Queen(Called Tiger or Lion).

However,  player could decide another choice, but he must declare when his Pawn reaches the last row.   When Pawn reaches the second  row  from the last row, it could only promote to 半能虎(Half Power Tiger) or called 目車(Eye Chariot). 半能虎 moves like Dragon King in Shogi.

3.  Victory Point:

He also mentioned an old rule called 圖嘿(tuuxəi). I thank tuuxəi  is like Komi on Go.

Player could make enemy left only two pieces(King and another piece) in the end . Then he must make starting check by Chariot or Queen and consecutive Check before chekmate. 

Before checkmate, Number of consecutive Check is Number of 圖嘿.
If player win by common checkmate like Chess, he only got one 圖嘿.

Player usually made enemy left One King and One Pawn for having time to put his pieces to good positions to make consecutive Check.

In this book , author 彭楚克林青 wrote 100 End  for example of 圖嘿. Many 圖嘿 are made end by Pawn's checkmate, few by Camel or Horse.

Ed wrote on Thu, Apr 5, 2012 01:49 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
@Shi Ji: I was reading detail reported by an Italian anthropologist who investigated shatar, that the move of the bers, i.e., like shogi's dragon king and like the FIDE queen, are alternatives used depending on the status of one or both players. If one player is in mourning, the bers moves like the dragon queen; if not, the bers moves like the FIDE queen. I have not seen another source for this detail, and, since the anthropologist seems to have surveyed rules in the Republic of Mongolia, perhaps a description appertaining to Inner Mongolia might differ -- or not -- I am as curious as you are.

Shi Ji wrote on Wed, Apr 4, 2012 04:46 PM UTC:
The rules on this page
say that the queen in shatar is the same as FIDE chess. Which is right?

Yu Ren Dong wrote on Sat, Sep 17, 2011 02:41 AM UTC:
The Pawn (Chu) does not have a double initial step, with the exception of
the pawn before the queen. 

The first move pawn as  a double initial step  is obligatory, but White
player would choose  the pawn before the queen or king:

1. If White choose the pawn before the queen, Black must also choose the
pawn before the queen.

2. If White choose the pawn before the King, Black must also choose the
pawn before the King.

Please see

Ed wrote on Sat, Jun 25, 2011 03:44 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
Recently I came across some shatar problem literature, a couple of
collections of what seem to be checkmate problems, but they differ in some
respects from international chess checkmate problems so that I wonder
either if we have a complete understanding of Mongolian checkmate rules or
of aesthetic conventions that may be dear to Mongolians in their chess
play.  In not a few of the examples in these collections the solutions
proposed are not the most efficient (sometimes the diagram has an immediate
checkmate by our conventions but that does not use all the material on the
board), involve the pieces gaining the checkmate from the initial position
moving only once, and seem all to end with checkmate being delivered by a
pawn.  I wonder if there is in addition to the prohibition of delivering
immediate checkmate by pawn a superior win condition because checkmate is
delivered finally by a pawn after a series of checks (maybe extra stakes if
a bet had been placed on the game?).  I wonder also if there is a
prohibition on repeated or multiple checks by the same piece.  I know of no
authentic shatar game scores on which to conjecture an opinion.

My inferences are based only on the diagrams and solutions to be read in
these Mongolian texts; I am completely sure that a chess master composing a
book of problems must not fail to see an immediate checkmate that someone
like me could recognize.  And yet, I cannot read Mongolian so as to
understand the description of the conventions and goals of such problem
literature as he may have seen fit to record.

I hope that a Mongolian shatar player could enlighten me.

As to identifying the historical source for chess among the Mongolians, I
wonder if this inference about pawn-delivered checkmate as a flourish of
good chess play would be another datum pointing to a Persian-Arab ancestor
rather than one directly from India.

George Duke wrote on Sat, Jun 26, 2010 03:33 PM UTC:
Okay, we use only Bodlaender's Forzoni text. Knight checking, as any other piece, forces King to move or someone to capture the Knight -- or otherwise void his reach (to be inclusive of cv renderings) -- but Knight cannot be the (sole crucial) final checkmater. Shak is word for Queen, Rook, or Knight attacking King. Tuk is word reserved for Bishop-check because he reaches only half the squares ever. Pawn is even more restricted, so we call it Zod. The three are just words and have the same effect except for the (any) final checkmate. If a double check occurs, there must be a hierarchy, so who actually moved last is immaterial. King cannot be checking the other King, but can disclose a check as matter of course. In Mongolian, there would presumably certainly be no retracting a Niol, and the game is drawn, though by all appearances a ''checkmate'' is occurring but for how the attacker has happened to arrive at it! If a chain of checks is broken, there can be no sustaining Shak until one recurs. Bare King, Robado, Drawn game too. [Interestingly, it is rare to be able to discover two checks at once in Cvs, possibly making triple check all together for a position; that takes exceptional oblique pieces who do not jump, like hook-mover 13th-century Gryphon and 20th-century multi-path Falcon in posited examples.]

Daniil Frolov wrote on Fri, Jun 25, 2010 01:00 PM UTC:
Wich piece is considerd as checking? Is it piece, wich made actual move (if it's right, so what if king checks?) or piece, wich is threating king (if it's right, so if, for example, you moved bishop to attack king and bishop let rook to attack king, wich kind of check is it)?

Anonymous wrote on Thu, Mar 18, 2010 05:02 PM UTC:
I am not sure for 100%, but i read that thinking that Berse is snow leopard is wrong. It's Mongolian mythical creature.

Rick Knowlton wrote on Mon, Jun 12, 2006 04:37 AM UTC:
Hi, just wanted to let you know you can find traditional Mongolian chess
sets for sale at:

John Ayer wrote on Wed, Mar 24, 2004 05:32 AM UTC:
As for Charles Gilman's question as to the literal meaning of Berse: I have read and enjoyed the book _The Chess Artist_ by J. C. Hallman. He describes his friendship with a Mongolian woman who is a Grand Master. In one of their conversations she seems to deny that 'Bers' or 'Berse' means anything in Mongolian--except 'chess queen' of course. It is the word 'Fers' adjusted for the fact that Mongolian has no f. It somewhat resembles the words 'Merzé' (mastiff) and 'Bars' (snow-leopard), both of which have been taken as guides in carving the pieces.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on Sat, Jan 10, 2004 09:07 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
See a compilation of those wonderful Mongolian Shatar sets on :

Charles Gilman wrote on Sat, Jan 3, 2004 08:58 AM UTC:Good ★★★★
The army from this game could be useful in a group of Chess with Different
Slightly-Weaker-Than-FIDE Armies. What is the literal meaning of Berse? If
it is something suitable I may use the name Berse to replace the
apparently unpopular Chatelaine in my piece article Constitutional

25 comments displayed

Later Reverse Order EarlierEarliest

Permalink to the exact comments currently displayed.