Indian chess

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This article is about regional versions of chess played in India. For ancient Indian chess variants, which are believed to be predecessors of chess by some historians, see chaturanga.

Indian chess is the name given to a variations of chess played in India in the 18th and 19th centuries. The more ancient forms are known as chaturanga, and spread to the west via Persia in the 7th Century. There are several such variations, all quite similar to modern rules, with variants regarding castling, pawn promotion, etc. These variants were popular in India until the 1960s.

Differences from Western chess[edit]

  • The king is always placed to the right of the queen (as opposed to the left for Black).
  • When only the king and pawns are left in play, the opponent may not give check, but he can win by stalemate.
  • The two-step initial pawn move is absent in Indian chess; thus, en passant is also absent.
  • Normal castling with rook and king is absent. The king can make a knight's move once in a game, known as Indian castling.
  • On reaching the opposite end of the board, pawns promote to the piece of that square. If it promotes at the initial king's position, it promotes a queen.
  • Underpromotion is not permitted.
  • The queen can also make the knight's move in addition to the rook and bishop. It is thus more powerful than in the modern version.
  • The last piece remaining may not be captured.
  • The king may not move without being in check.

Names of the pieces[edit]

The queen is called the Minister. The knight has been called a horse since chaturanga times, and is attested to in the iconography of the modern knight. The following table describes the Indian chess terminology for the various pieces (including Hindi pronunciations):[1]

Name Modern Hindi
King king Rājā
Minister queen Rānī, Mantrī or Wazīr
Elephant rook Hāthī
Horse knight Ghoṛā
Camel bishop  ūṅṭ
Infantry pawn Paidal or Pyādā

Mantrī is the Sanskrit and Hindi term for Minister while Wazīr is the Hindi, Urdu and Persian term for the same.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cazaux, Jean-Louis. "Indian Chess Sets". Another view on Chess: Odyssey of Chess. Retrieved 25 November 2014.