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The Maharaja and the Sepoys

This variant has received much attention in game books. It was for instance covered in Edward Falkeners book Games Ancient and Oriental and How to Play them, and in Gollon's book on chess variants. Gollon also gives the original name of the game: Shatranj Diwana Shah. It was played in India, about one century ago.


In this game, black has its normal set of chess pieces. White however, only has a king (called Maharaja), but whites king may move as any piece, i.e., it may make any move a queen can make, and it may make any move a knight can make. Blacks pieces start in their normal array, and white may put his king on any square on the first three rows.



The black pawns do not promote when they reach the last row of the board.

Object of the game for both players is to mate the opponent.


A carefully playing black player should be able to win. However, this is not always easy, and in many cases, when the white `Maharaja' breaks though the lines of black, he has good chances to win.

Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: 1995 or 1996. Last modified: September 26, 2000.