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Shatranj Kamil I. Large shatranj variant with new piece: camel. (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Nuno Cruz wrote on 2008-11-05 UTC

This is according to Murray's book:

King's Alfonso Book mentions also an Acedrex de las diez casas (Decimal Chess). There are no rules given. The only thing we now is the rules to make the special dice required. Besides King, Alferza, Roque, Cavallo and Alfil there is another piece called Juyz (judge). When describing the dice values and correspondence to which piece, the Juyz appears before the Alfil (been the Alfil the poorest valued piece besides the pawn).

Now, on the same page of is book, Murray (pg.348) says that Alfonso when describing the dice throws for Grande Acedrex (Great chess) 'follows what Alfonso considered the order of value of the pieces'.

Concluding: If this is true for the Decimal chess also (Murray does not say it), and since Judge is more powerful then Alfil...could we not speculate that this 'Judge' is the Camel from Shatranj Kamil I? The piece we all now call Dabbaba? Maybe this decimal formula has been more used then what we might think of and endured for a while, even achieving the 'merit' of reaching Europe... :)

John Ayer wrote on 2007-09-07 UTC
Thank you, Joe!

Joe Joyce wrote on 2007-09-07 UTC
John, you left out the '.com' in the address; the correct URL is:
Unusual site. Interesting argument. Interesting references. Thank you.

Gary Gifford wrote on 2007-09-07 UTC
I clicked on the link to visit the write up... but the link did not work. Perhaps it can be checked for an error.

John Ayer wrote on 2007-09-06 UTC
My essay explaining my view of the relationships among various early forms
of chess, with this one in a crucial position, is now on line at

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2006-05-14 UTCPoor ★
The regretted Gollon has made me discover CV long time ago, so I owe his
soul a lot of respect. Unfortunately, I discovered his source, Murray,
years later and I hate to say that Gollon made a lot of mistakes, and me
too on my first book (Guide des échecs exotiques et insolites) because I
followed Gollon. Apologies to my French readers.
1) These 2 variants are nowhere called 'Kamil'.
2) Setup 2 is done by al-Masudi who said that it was invented by al-Khalil
ibn Ahmad (718-71). The Camels are at the sides of the board but their move
was not recorded. So our rule here is a pure speculation.
3) Setup 1 is found in Firdawsi's Shâhnâma. Gollon made a mistake: the
Camels are between Faras (Knights) and Fils (Elephants), check Murray,
The move that Murray gives p341 is cleary a speculation too as pointed out
by Sanvito and Panaino. Firdawsi's text is given on Murray p214. There we
learn that the Shutur (Persian for Camel) 'ran through 3 squares',
which, yes, means that they moved 2 square (ancient were counting the
starting square in), probably jumping (same thing is said of the
Elephant), but nowhere it is said that it was horizontally or vertically.
I agree that this speculation is believable, but it is good to know that
it remains a speculation.

If you have more elements in contradiction, please post them.

John Ayer wrote on 2004-05-08 UTC
I think that Tamerlane's Chess was derived from this game. Shatranj al-Kamil Type I has an orthogonal rider, an orthogonal leaper, a diagonal one-step mover, and a diagonal leaper. Someone filled out these two sets with a diagonal-rider (the Taliah, which was for some reason forbidden a single-step move) and an orthogonal one-step mover (the Wazir). Then someone made the horse the basis for another family by adding a one-step-farther leaper (the Jamal) and a diagonal-plus-orthogonal rider (the Zarafah; again, short moves are forbidden). The individualization of the pawns was a complete novelty.

John Ayer wrote on 2003-11-28 UTC
I propose that this game can be derived from the pre-chess or proto-chess described in a note to chaturanga by adding our rook to the outside of that array and then squaring off the board and adding two more pawns. From this game chaturanga can be derived by moving it back to the eight-square board and dropping the orthogonal-leaping camel (our dabbabah) or alternatively the alfil from the array and giving its place to the rook. From this game, Shatranj al-Kamil Type One, I think we can also derive the early form of Chinese chess, which was played on a board of eleven lines by eleven, that is, ten squares by ten. The rooks, or chariots, are retained unaltered. The elephants retain their move unaltered, except that it is now limited by the river, but I doubt the river existed on the earlier board. The horses retain their native move in slightly modified form. The orthogonal-leapers, camels in this game but dabbabahs to us, become pieces that leap orthogonally to capture, moving like rooks the rest of the time. The king and minister probably had the same moves as in the original game; the nine-castle was not found on that earlier board.

John Ayer wrote on 2003-07-15 UTC
The Persian poet Firdausi, in his epic history of Iran, the Shah-nameh, or Book of Kings, gives a story of the invention of chess, and the form invented has these same pieces on the same ten-square board, but the camels are placed between the elephants and the horses, on the C and H files, and the pawns are so clearly described as standing before and behind the pieces that I wonder whether he meant each player had twenty pawns, arranged on his first and third ranks, with the pieces on his second rank.

Charles Gilman wrote on 2003-06-15 UTC
In my previous comment I actually had in mind what we now call the Camel, and only later noticed that the piece in this game is actually the one now called a Dabbaba. The use of Camel to mean a 3:1 has obviuosly gained more ground, but which has the greater antiquity? If the Camel used here was only a temporary aberration then my rating of Excellent is erroneous. I now understand why the piece 'adds so little to the game' when the modern Camel complements the the Knight so well in that 'Kamil' form of modern Chess, Wildebeest Chess.

Charles Gilman wrote on 2003-05-26 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
As well as its meaning of 'complete' the name also conveys a suggestion in many (most?) languages of 'Chess with Camels', which of course is an accurate description. It could also be called something like 'Punturanga' (feel free to correct my Sanskrit if you know better!), meaning a five-part army of infantry, chariots, cavalry, elephantry, and camelry.

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