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Hiashatar A game information page
. Mongolian Great Chess played on a 10x10 board with a pair of Bodyguard pieces per side.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-03-01 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

This variant is almost guaranteed to produce a hard struggle. Those bodyguard pieces are tough to work around!

Bukovski wrote on 2017-11-27 UTCGood ★★★★

I have sampled a few games of hiashatar on an 8x10 board and have concluded that it results in much too constricted positions, even if pieces come into contact sooner and the balance of open squares and number of pieces matches chess.  I have seen hia chess on CVP and would like to know if others have experience of the hia on a smaller board and have evaluated its suitability for a board of fewer ranks.  I used to think hiashatar seemed too large, but now I am unsure.  I would welcome opinions or accounts of player experiences.

Ed wrote on 2012-03-30 UTC
@Mats: I added a favorable comment on the page linking to your excellent
hiashatar ZRF, which I will not repeat here.

I only wanted to give a link for anyone interested in the kind of diagram
to which I refer in native shatar literature:

The image shows some pieces in a diagram that decorate the book cover of a
problem collection.  I wish I had clearer page images to refer to, but the
point is somewhat moot, given the fine, aesthetically pleasing solution
that Mats offers in his ZRF.

M Winther wrote on 2012-03-29 UTC
Ed, I have now added an alternative 3D piece set to my ZRF. I found images
on the net, resized and coloured them. I also added an outlined board 
instead of a squared one. The result is reasonably good:

Ed wrote on 2012-03-28 UTC
@Mats: The sources I consulted are most probably still in copyright, but, even if not and if I still had access to them, maybe not in the public domain. I may find isolated examples of similar images, at least to illustrate what I mean. The other feature of the diagrams, the monochromatic board, requires no example. I doubt that the images of the initial shatar and hiashatar arrays from Okano's book that appear on the internet could be used without his permission. They differ, too, in this way, from the diagrams that I observed in shatar problem literature: WQ and P look like larger and smaller versions of sprinting spotted panthers, BQ and P like a large, lean lion (or dog) and similarly shaped young, also extended as if on the run. B looked, of course like a camel, darkened on one side, lighter for the other. N looked like a horse, and R like a cart. Both B and N were not depicted so as to suggest movement. All the pieces, apart from the pagoda/palace shaped piece that represented K, were presented in profile; White's pieces faced left, as I remember, and Black's faced right.

M Winther wrote on 2012-03-28 UTC
If you could point me to a suitable traditional graphics, I would be 
happy to implement it, if it's public domain. Don't forget to post any
new findings about Hiashatar variants.

Ed wrote on 2012-03-27 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
@Mats: I have enjoyed your ZRF very much for a while.  Without wishing to
sound ungrateful for your effort, which I most certainly esteem, if there
would be one thing that I might change about it (for aesthetic purposes
only, to be sure, and for some kind of nod to the exotic origin of the
game), it would be to use graphics like those in diagrams in native shatar
literature, at least as an option.  One would still have to produce a
suitable graphic for the hia, though, and the representation of the king as
a palace or pagoda was a bit surprising for me at first when I saw it.  I
would provide images to illustrate, but the books I consulted were part of
a library collection of Mongolian materials.  These books were printed in
Inner Mongolia, so I have no way of verifying that the practice holds in
the Republic of Mongolia or Tuva.

For a while I had hoped to be able to submit details about other large
shatar variants that seem to have been played historically in Mongolia.  My
correspondent from Ulaanbaatar tantalized me by mentioning 9x9, 10x10
(hiashatar), 11x11, and 12x12 board sizes, but made no mention of the
pieces populating the board or powers they possess.

As to hiashatar, I was hoping to have more information from my
correspondent to resolve what seems the variability in the moves reported
for the hia.  I hope that an English-speaking Mongolian (or Chinese with
access to fuller information in authoritative sources) might read this and
supply us with more detail.

M Winther wrote on 2012-03-27 UTC
Don't miss my Hiashatar implementation in Zillions:

Ed wrote on 2012-03-25 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Recently I was reading R. Pozzi's monograph on shatar, I giocchi mongoli, and wondered if the description of circumstances why shatar has two movements for the bers that correspond to the players mourning or not (like orthoqueen=not mourning, like shogi dragon king=mourning) could also apply in the seemingly divergent moves described for the hia, that is, the move described by Kisliouk following Okano, I suppose, and that recorded by Pozzi, based in part on detail from the Italian anthropologist, David Bellatalla. I wonder if anyone knows whether the stronger (Kisliouk version, to give it a name) or weaker (Pozzi version) may be analogous to the circumstances for the stronger and weaker versions of the bers. I wonder further if the use of 'supplementary' moves describe by A. Popova for the mor' and noyon has similar conventions. I have to admit variations by time and region seemed intelligible to me, but variations in play based upon social circumstance is a bit more remote. Mongolian chess culture is very interesting to consider, indeed.

Charles Gilman wrote on 2010-11-15 UTC
As the link currently on the page is broken (through closure of Geocities) it might be an idea to replace it with the links in the comments.

Jose Carrillo wrote on 2010-11-06 UTC
Link with instructions to Hiashatar.

M Winther wrote on 2009-04-12 UTC
I have now implemented an additional variant in Hiashatar (Grand Mongol Chess) where the Bodyguard can also stymie friendly pieces and where it can only capture on the nearest square. This is possibly an authentic historical variant.

M Winther wrote on 2006-11-14 UTC
I have now implemented Mongolian Hiashatar in Zillions. The Bodyguard piece
is very interesting. I have assumed that the bodyguard can only stymie the
movement of enemy pieces. If it could also stymie the movement of friendly
pieces, then the game would become awkward.  /Mats

Mike wrote on 2005-07-09 UTC
The ZRF that I wrote up follows the description for piece movements that I read on Mr. Kisliouk's page. I notice that M. Cazaux has suggested improvements, but I have not incorporated them. <p>I am a little unsure how to submit a ZRF to I guess I could investigate that. <p>If I do so, I will add the changes that M. Cazaux has listed for the movement of the Horse. <p>I wrote up some ZRFs for some other variants like Wa Shogi and Chess of the Four Seasons. Maybe those will appeal to others.

JCRuhf wrote on 2005-07-08 UTC
Mike, where can I find the ZRF?

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2004-01-10 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Hello. I've made a page dedicated to Hiashatar on my web site (and another
one for Shatar). Considering the great emphasis given to Horse both in
Shatar and in Mongolian nomadic way of life, I guess that the Horse is
simply not affected by the Bodyguard power. That's why there is no
specific rule.
Also, remember that it is forbidden to mate the King with the Horse in
Shatar. All this is consistent.
See :

Mike wrote on 2003-07-20 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Despite earlier pessimism, I have been able to ZRFolate this game. The bodyguard is a truly powerful piece! It is a bit difficult to become used to the inhibiting effect that it has; it can be as much of a hindrance as it is a help.

Mike wrote on 2003-07-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Has anyone else tried playing this game?  I find that the bodyguard is
tremendously powerful both because of the effect of its zone of influence
upon the other pieces and the ability to march practically unhindered
across the board.  I found that one could reasonably trade a queen for a

Has anyone resolved the issue of the knight's movement in the zone of
influence?  If the rule is viewed strictly, it completely neutralizes the
knight.  I have taken the view that the knight's move is one step
orthogonally and one diagonally to resolve the question of how its leap
over the zone of influence should be treated.

Has anyone tried ZRFolating this yet?  I am rather stymied by how to
script the effects of the bodyguard on other pieces' movements.

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