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Arabian Nights Chess
For my second entry in the 84 Spaces Contest I wanted to share
the updated version of Shatranj on a larger board that my son
Timothy and I came up with. We have kept all of the original
Shatranj pieces (with a slight modification in the movement of
the Pawn) and have added a pair of
Dabbabahs, two Generals
instead of one, a new piece which we call the Grand Vizier and
four Magic Flying Carpet squares. We have also purposely
preserved most of the basic rules of Shatranj in order to give
the updated game roughly the same feel in play. We hope that
you enjoy playing our game as much as we do.
The game board is a rectangular field consisting of a grid 9
squares wide x 9 squares long, which is not checkered. The
square in the exact center of the board is missing (marked by an
X in the diagram below, at 5F), leaving a hole in the board
through (or over) which no piece may pass. The two rows on each
side where the pieces are initially placed are their respective
"camps." There are four squares located in columns A and K,
beginning the game at A7, A3, K7, and K3. These are the Magic
Flying Carpet squares. The standard initial setup of the pieces
is as follows:
9 R K E D S D E K R
8 P G P P V P P G P
7 - - - - - - - - - - -
6 - - - - - - - - -
5 - - - - X - - - -
4 - - - - - - - - -
3 - - - - - - - - - - -
2 P G P P V P P G P
1 R K E D S D E K R
A B C D E F G H I J K
We also enjoy a variation where we have a "Setup Phase" prior to
beginning play where the opponents each take turns placing their
pieces in their respective "camps" one piece at a time (beginning
with Black) until all the pieces are placed. The only restriction
on placement of pieces during the setup phase is that all Pawns
must be in the front rank (rows two and eight).
In the movement diagrams below:
x=capture square, m=movement only, o=other piece.
S - Sultan:
The Sultan is the King piece. The Sultan moves and
captures exactly like a King in European Chess. The Sultan can
never move to a square that would put him in check.
D - Dabbabah:
The Dabbabah moves and captures by leaping to the
second orthogonal square, it never occupies the first orthogonal
E - Elephant:
The Elephant moves and captures by leaping to the
second diagonal square, it never occupies the first diagonal
K - Knight:
The Knight moves and captures exactly like a Knight
in European Chess.
R - Rook:
The Rook moves and captures exactly like a Rook in
P - Pawn:
The Pawn moves and captures exactly like a Pawn in
European Chess, with the addition of a non-capturing move one
space to the left or the right orthogonally.
G - General:
The General moves and captures one square in
any diagonal direction.
V - Grand Vizier:
The Grand Vizier combines the moves of a Knight
and a General.
The object of the game is to check-mate the opponent's Sultan.
Black always goes first.
Pawns are permitted an initial two step move.
There is no en passant capture.
There is no castling option.
Promotion: Pawns arriving at the enemy "camp" (the last two
ranks) always promote to Generals. Generals arriving at the
enemy "camp" always promote to Grand Viziers. No other piece
Stalemate counts as a win.
Bare Sultan counts as a win, provided that your Sultan cannot
be bared on the very next move. (See below)
Two bare Sultans (see above) count as a draw.
Magic Flying Carpet squares: A piece that moves onto one of
the four Magic Flying Carpet squares can choose to either leave
the square in it's current location or immediately move it to any
empty position in column A, spaces 3 through 7, or column K,
spaces 3 through 7, thus ending their turn. If a player chooses
not to move the Magic Flying Carpet square when they land on it
they cannot move it on a subsequent turn unless they vacate the
square and then go back to it. A piece does not have to move
off of the Magic Flying Carpet square on a subsequent turn, but
they cannot move the Magic Flying Carpet square again unless they
vacate the square and then go back to it. A Magic Flying Carpet
square will be left where it is until another piece moves onto
the square and chooses to move it. Other than the rules above
regarding movement of the square, in every other respect it is
exactly like any other square on the board and is considered to
be connected to the board at it's current location.
We would like to have a Zillions of Games format version of
Arabian Nights Chess, but we have not been able to figure out
how to implement it in time to submit a Zillions file for the
84 Spaces Contest.
We made a board out of poster board with 1 and 1/2 inch squares.
For the playing pieces we used plastic checkers with a paper
circle that we cut to fit in the middle, labeled with the initial
of the piece it represented on one side and the piece it promoted
to on the other. We have also used icon-type drawings instead
of the initials.
This game was invented by Paul E. Newton and his son Timothy R.
Newton. We hope to eventually work out a point-value system for
Arabian Nights Chess. If you have questions, comments or
suggestions on any aspect of the game you can e-mail us. (Find the email address via
this link; editor.)
Written by Paul E. Newton. Html by Hans Bodlaender.