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class consists of players to whom one of the Grandees can give the odds of the Queen. The fourth class consists of those to whom one of the highest can give the odds of a Knight. (Here the hiatus occurs in the MSS.; but we know from other sources that), The fifth class consists of those players to whom one of the class of Grandees can give the odds of a Rook.
It appears to me (if I may be allowed a very brief digression) that this same classification of players among the Orientals must have tended greatly to promote a sound knowledge of Chess; and I should consider the system well worthy of being introduced and enforced at all our Chess-clubs. To all true lovers of the noble game, especially to the young and rising players, the prospect of attaining a higher grade would prove a much more effective stimulus for exertion than the mode of playing for a shilling, which prevailed in my younger days. I believe, however, shilling play is now less common in the metropolis than it was twenty years ago. I myself have ever set my face against a proceeding so degrading to Chess; and, when a member of the St. George's Club, I believe I induced many others to follow my example. To young players, then, I would say, avoid the shilling' men as you would the plague, and play the strict game, for honour. The mode is very simple: for instance, two players, A and B. perhaps justly, he could give the odds of the Pawn and move to B; but the latter, out of self-conceit or vanity, will listen to no such proposal; the consequence is, that A is in a fair way of falling into a careless habit of play, which is the inevitable result of playing even with an
we shall suppose, Well, A thinks,
I have known some of the shilling gentry who, when they lost, were always destitute of small change. Never play, thou, O reader, with any such a second
inferior player. Then the plan which I would recommend is-let the two agree to play carefully a match of ten games; and if, out of the ten, B should only win two or three, (drawn games not to count), it will amount to a tolerable proof that he is of a class inferior to A.
On the Openings or Battle Array-End Games or Positions won by force-End Games drawn by force.
In order fully to appreciate the system of tactics adopted in opening the game of Shatranj, the reader must bear in mind, once more, that the Pawns could never advance more than one step on the first move. From this restriction on the part of the Pawns, together with the very limited range of the Queen and Bishops, it will be easily perceived that no formidable collision of the forces could have taken place till at least from ten to fifteen moves had been made on either side. Hence, in order to save time, and to prevent useless exchanges, it was agreed that the first player should make his (let us say) twelve moves all at once, without, however, crossing the middle line of the board; after which the adversary was entitled to play up in succession an equal number of counter moves, such as he might deem most conducive to ultimate victory, being also restricted to his own half of the board.
1 This was uniformly the rule in the Chaturanga, and with a slight exception, peculiar to India, it still prevails all over Asia at the present day. So far as I can discover, it was the rule in the Shatranj, when the players from the commencement made alternate moves, as we do: but, as stated in p. 91, when the players agreed to take up a strategic position, then a Pawn might, in so noing, move one or two squares at pleasure. This of course had nothing to do with our "vexata questio" of one Pawn taking another "en passant," for in the Medieval game, neither party crossed the frontier line. It is possible however that from this Oriental custom, of the "Ta'biyat," arose the present privilege of our Pawn's moving one or two squares, on the first move.
These preliminary manoeuvres the Arabs called "Ta'biyat," which signifies "the drawing up of troops in battle array. This term corresponds in some degree with our word "opening," with this serious difference, that in the "Ta'biyat" all the pieces and Pawns remain on the board, each on their own side, up to the tenth or fifteenth move, more or less, which I believe seldom or never happens in our game, except possibly in a few dull and cautious openings, such as what we call the "French Game," or "King's Pawn One Game," which leads to a system of tactics somewhat resembling that of the Shatranj or mediæval game.
In the old Arabic MS., in the British Museum (No. 7,515), we find no fewer than eleven diagrams of "battle-array," mostly named after the old masters who established them; or from some peculiarity in their own nature, just as we speak of the "Evans Gambit," the "Scottish Gambit," "Bishop's Opening," &c. There is nothing said about the order in which the moves had been played up. Nor is this of any consequence; all we have to consider is the strategic position taken up by the first player, that of the opponent being supposed to exhibit the very best defensive position. It would be quite out of place here to give diagrams of all the Ta'biyats," nor would a mere dry rehearsal of their names prove of any interest to the generality of readers. I shall, therefore, confine myself to an examination of one very neat opening from the Asiatic Society's MS., folio 2B, which will amply suffice to explain this part of our subject. The following diagram shows the position of the respective armies drawn up in battle array, after ten moves have been played upon either side.
Position of the Pieces in the Shatranj after ten Moves.
Here White had the move, and, from the use he has made of it, we may clearly infer that he had in view one great and leading principle which is equally applicable to our own game. This consists "in cautiously pushing on the Pawns, so as to make room for the co-operation of the pieces, taking great care, however, not to compromise the safety of the two central Pawns." We see that each of the Bishop's Pawns has moved two squares, so as to allow the two Knights to occupy a very attacking position. By-and-by, when the two centre Pawns can with safety be advanced, the places where they now stand will be occupied by the two Bishops, which is the best position for the latter. Observe also that in two moves more the W. Rooks may be doubled, one at Q. Kt., and the other at Q. Kt. second. Lastly, the King and Queen will