Maharajah and the Sepoys
Maharajah and the Sepoys, originally called Shatranj Diwana Shah and also known as "The Mad King's Game" and "Maharajah chess", is a popular chess variant with different armies for white and black. It was first played in the 19th century in India. A solved game with forced win for Black.
Black has a full, standard chess army ("sepoys") in the usual position. White is limited to a single piece, the maharajah, which can move as either a queen or as a knight on White's turn (hence a manifestation of the amazon). Black's goal is to checkmate the maharajah, while White's is to checkmate Black's king. There is no pawn promotion.
The asymmetry of the game pits movement flexibility and agility against greater force in numbers. By perfect play Black always wins in this game, at least on an 8x8 board. According to Hans Bodlaender, "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 through the lines of black, he has good chances to win."
|This section uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
The Maharajah can pose a serious threat and even win against a weak opponent. Its strategy is to clean as many Black pieces as possible in the early game using fork (attacking more than one unprotected piece at once) as the main tactic; after sufficiently cleaning the board, by doing checks, chase the Black King away from its other pieces, drive it into a corner and give checkmate.
Maharajah's critical weakness is that it's alone, so it cannot do exchanges, which means, cannot capture Black pieces that are protected. So the Sepoys' winning tactic is to make moves in such a way that all their pieces stay protected while gradually stealing away available squares from the Maharajah. It's also important to make sure the Maharajah cannot do checks.
One example line of moves that gives White a forced mate in 24 moves goes like this (White's moves are unimportant):
1... d5 2... Nc6 3... Qd6 4... e5 5... Nf6 6... a5 7... Ra6 8... Rb6 9... Bg4 10... e4 11... Qe5 12... Be7 13... O-O 14... Rb2 15... Ra8 16... Ra6 17... Rab6 18... R6b3 19... h5 20... g5 21... Nh7 22... Qd4
Now if the Maharajah is e.g. on a1 then: 23... Rb1 24... R3b2# 0-1
Else: 23... Qd1# 0-1