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The Chess Variant Pages

Tamerlane chess: ms 7322 version

In Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, he writes about a version of Tamerlane Chess with more pieces. This version is often attributed to the copyist of Timur's biographer, `Arabshah. However, there are reasons to believe that Arabshah lived at about one century or perhaps more earlier than when the diagram of this version was made. The version differs mainly from Tamerlane chess in that several squares, empty in the most common setup of Tamerlane chess, are filled in this setup. Some new pieces are in this game: lions, bulls, and a sentinel. Unfortunately, the movement of these pieces is unknown, so it is not possible to play this game with the original rules.

The setup is illustrated below:


Black has on its last row, from left to right: an Elephant, Lion, Camel, Bull, Dabbabah (war machine), Sentinel, Dabbabah, Bull, Knight, Lion, Elephant. On the second row, Black has: RNTGXKFGTNR a Rook, Knight, Talî`a (vanguard), Crocodile (or `shark, barracuda, sea monster), King, Ferz, Giraffe, Talî`a, Knight, Rook. On the third row on his side, Black has a number of pawns: rltgxkfdcnp, pawn of rooks, pawn of lions, pawn of talî`a's, Pawn of giraffes, pawn of crocodiles, pawn of kings, pawn of ferz, pawn of dabbabahs, pawn of camels, pawn of knights, pawn of pawns. On c7, black has a pawn of elephants, on f7, black has a pawn of sentinels, and on i7, black has a pawn of bulls.

The setup of white is mirrored: for about all pieces, the setup is mirrored pointwise, but the pawns on the fourth row are on the same columns as their black counterparts.

It is well possible that the biographer made some error in the description of this setup; in particular, it may have been that the entire setup was point symmetric (i.e., he switched for one player the places of pawn of elephants and pawn of bulls.)


Unfortunately, the precise rules of this game are unknown: for some pieces (e.g., the bull), the moves of the piece are unknown. Ivan A. Derzhanski, who sent the information used for making this webpage, also noted that the names of the pawns were written in a strange way.

The names, given in this webpage may be historically unaccurate.

Image from manuscript

Webpage made by Hans Bodlaender, based upon information sent to us by Ivan A. Derzhanski. Some comments were given by Jean-Louis Cazaux.
WWW page created: March 5, 2001. Last modified: April 6, 2001.