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There was this great game called chaturji - four way Indian chess. Me, the Maharaja and his buddies use to play back in the 15th century over a couple brewski's. Sometimes, we'd put down a few rupees.
By the way, notice we were using a form of algebraic notation... Ed3 (elephant to d3 - or in descriptive notation E-GK3 elephant to green king's 3)
Welcome and an interesting side-topic you have there, Mark!
So let's put a couple of facts into place.
The first reference to *Chatu-raja* ("four kings"?) is from the book Taḥqīq mā li-l-hind min maqūlah maqbūlah fī al-ʿaql aw mardhūlah - or “Verifying All That the Indians Recount, the Reasonable and the Unreasonable” (1030) - by Persian 'philosopher' Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (who also has a crater on the moon named after him).
Now I will first say that this 4-sided version was most likely only a variant of 'Chaturanga' (meaning: "4-limbed army").
Chaturanga - as you certainly know - is an ancient indian game that is believed by many to be the ancestor of our chess (others believe chess comes for chinese or central asian versions).
And this is a short article from a reputed chess historian on the subject of the four handed version of chess you referred to:
Moreover, there also exists a lovely film about chess in India, or rather in Awadh (a part of modern Uttar Pradesh) in the second half of the XIXth Century.
The film (I don't own the copyright) is by Satyajit Ray, the great indian Writer and Film Director - and as you will notice the version of the game being played there (a two-sided one) is 'Shatranj', the arab version, derived from the indian 'Chaturanga' but with slight differences (both in the symbolism of the pieces and in the rules).
So what happened was that a (2-sided) arab version of the game, that derived from (a persian one, that derived from) an indian one was later re-introduced into India (probably as a novelty) by the first muslim invaders in the XIIIth Century and especially by the Moghuls in the XVIth Century...
Concerning your 4-handed game with the Maharaja, Mark, you see I am not saying you are making it up but errr... as I am having problems in placing it... are you sure he was not an Emir or a Shah?
Thanks Bumiputra, interesting back-stories to the games.
I can't tell whether you're joking here or not, but to be sure I did make this up. Well, sorta. Certainly I wasn't playing in the 15th century or with any Maharaja. That was just a jesting-response to the general age-roasting going on here
The truer story I based the fiction on is that I played Chaturaji back in the 1970s with a kid who became mayor of the city I grew up in.
... and, oddly, I called it Chaturanga back then too - but when I looked it up on Wikipedia last night, the version of Chaturanga we were playing looked more like what the wiki called "Chaturaji".
I discovered the game in a dusty old chess book in a back-shelf at the library along with a pile of other pre-chess variants. I can't recall the book's title or author any more.
I also built a Martian chess set back then too, based on the one that appears in Edgar Rice Burrough's "The Chessman of Mars". I remember I painted my father's drafting board with a 10x10 black and orange square game board. That took a little arm-waiving explaining to get him to cool down and admit he'd probably never use the board again anyhow.
Kibbitzer: No clue what this means, but judging by the context people have used it in I think it is something like a patzer.
Thanks awesomechess1729! It's useful to know the local lingo...
The only term I'd heard before is kibbitzer - that one goes way back. It means a spectator that annoyingly keeps suggesting moves to one player or the other or both; at least that's what it meant back then. Not sure how that would translate to the online version of chess were the kibbitzer wouldn't really have the opportunity to chime in.
My opponent was so confused
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