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Tabletop Game / Shatranj

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Shatranj or Persian Chess is considered the predecessor to Chess. It originated in India and came to Persia.


  • Shāh (King) moves like the king in chess. In fact, the word chess itself came from "shāh".
  • Fers (Counsellor) Moves exactly one square diagonally, which makes it a rather weak piece. It was renamed "queen" in Europe. Even today, the word for the queen piece is ферзь (ferz) in Russian, vezér in Hungarian and vazīr in Persian. It has analogues to the guards in Xiang Qi and Gold Generals in Shōgi.
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  • Rukh (Chariot) Moves like the rook in chess.
  • Pīl, Alfil, Aufin and similar (Elephant) Moves exactly two squares diagonally, jumping over the square between. Each Pīl could reach only one-eighth of the squares on the board, and because their circuits were disjoint, they could never capture one another. This piece might have had a different move sometimes in chaturanga, where the piece is also called "elephant". The Pīl was replaced by the bishop in modern chess. Even today, the word for the bishop piece is alfil in Spanish, alfiere in Italian, "fīl" in Persian and слон (which means elephant) in Russian. The elephant piece survives in xiangqi with the limitations that the elephant in xiangqi cannot jump over an intervening piece and is restricted to the owner's half of the board. In Janggi, its movement was changed to become a slightly further-reaching version of the horse.
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  • Faras (Horse) Moves like the knight in chess.
  • Baidaq (Foot soldier) Moves and captures like the pawns in chess, but not moving two squares on the first move. When they reach the eighth rank, baidaqs are promoted, but only to fers.
  • There is no castling or two-space movements for pawns.
  • The player who delivers stalemate wins.
  • Capturing all the opponent's pieces except the King results in a win (unless your opponent can capture your last non-royal piece on the following move, in which case it's a draw).

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