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1 Black B. may take R. vaulting over W. K., in which case mate is given in three moves. It is needless, I trust, any more to remind the reader of the peculiar moves of the Queen and Bishop, which are here well exemplified.
Now let us see how far the above problem bears out the assertion of the authors of the "Essays" respecting the regal restrictions aforesaid. Their line of argument appears to me to savour strongly of the non sequitur;
* A neater version of the problem will be found in the Persian MS., No. 16,856, fol. 42B, which being further modified so as to suit the modern board, appeared in the Chess Player's Chronicle for last January.
which we may express thus-"Here we see that the King moves when he is checked; therefore the King must not move unless he is checked!" Again, "the King here moves in a straight line," (because, O courteous reader, he cannot move otherwise), "therefore the King is not allowed to move angularly!" I have only to add, that I have examined some three hundred Oriental problems, scattered over the various manuscripts to which I have alluded in Chapter 8, and nowhere have I met with the least hint of what the authors have asserted. In numerous positions, and several openings, I have found the King close behind his men, and not unfrequently in the very midst of them. He moves if he is checked, as a matter of course, and his move is straight or angular according to whichever is most advantageous. The only restriction is, and ever has been, in both the Mediæval and modern game—not to move into check.
On End Games, won by Force.
In the Shatranj the game was won in three different ways. The first and most common was by a checkmate, as with us. Secondly, when one player had succeeded in capturing all his opponent's forces, provided he had any of his own remaining, however small, he was declared the winner of the game. Lastly, a player won, when he succeeded, under certain restrictions, in giving his adversary stalemate. It will not be difficult to assign good reasons why the winner should have been allowed so
1 This second kind of victory is still acknowledged in Persia, as appears by a letter written from Paris to the Editor of the Chess Player's Chronicle, Vol. VI., p. 287. The writer says, "I played several games here with some young Persians sent to Europe by the Shāh for their education. They told me that with them, if at the end of a game either King is left alone against the adverse King with any force, however small, the King who has lost his forces must immediately surrender; the game being considered lost."
much latitude in the Oriental game. With us, for example, the circumstance of a King and Pawn against a King, is, under certain conditions, a sure victory; but not so in the Shatranj (that is, if victory depended on a checkmate), for suppose the Pawn had become a Queen, the latter possessed not the mating power. Also, with us a Knight and Bishop, or two Bishops, against a King, can mate; but not so in the Oriental game, where, as we have shown, the Bishops were of very little value. From these considerations, and many more that might have been alleged, it is evident, that in the Shatranj if the victory depended solely on giving checkmate, a won game among good players would have been a rarity; and it could have occurred chiefly between a first-rate player and one decidedly his inferior.
Let us now examine the nature of a victory gained by stalemate, which of necessity happened more rarely than one would at first sight imagine. Of course stalemate could not be given, as with us, to a King that had lost all his pieces and Pawns; for, as we have just seen, he, by that very circumstance, was deemed vanquished, and so that game was at an end. In order to express ourselves more distinctly, let us speak of White as the winning party, and Black as the King about to be stalemated. Well, then, when Black got stalemated, it being understood all along that he had still some of his forces remaining, but unable to move, the player of Black was allowed to make his King change places with any piece. or pawn out of such forces, provided, of course, that he did not in so doing go into check. The piece or pawn that changed place with the Black King was called "fidā," "victim," or "sacrifice;" because from the nature of things, there was every probability of his being captured in a very short time. If Black King could not
change places with any of his forces without going into check, he was deemed vanquished. Finally, when White happened to give stalemate on capturing the last of Black's pieces, he of course won the game.1
The Arabs, and after them the Persians, call the Endgame "Manṣuba," which corresponds exactly with our words "position" and "situation," being a "determinate" Chess problem, the solution of which is reduced to a certainty. It would appear that their best players prided themselves on their readiness of seizing on such positions as led to victory in a certain number of moves. Hence the epithet “manṣuba-dān,” “a man cunning in positions," or "a cunning chess-player," came figuratively to signify a "prudent" or "far-sighted man." So the term " manṣuba-bāz," literally "a position player," denoted "a first-rate Chess-player," and figuratively "a man of resource." Such appears to have been 'Ali Shatranji, of whom it was said that no mortal could either divine his coming move or perceive its purport when made. Hyde, from his utter ignorance of Chess, confounds the Manṣuba with the Ta'biyat; although the former is simply the conclusion of a game, as the latter is the opening. Yea, even in the latest edition of Richardson's Persian and Arabic Dictionary we find the meaning attached to Manṣuba to be simply "the Game of Chess !!"
The following problem is interesting inasmuch as it completely disproves the assertion of the authors of the
1 An instance of this kind of victory will be found in our tenth problem further on. At the 8th move on the part of Black in that end-game he captures the White Knight with Rook, giving what we should call stalemate, and consequently making it according to our rules, a drawn game. In the medieval game, however, the mere capture of the White Knight won the game, and the consequent stalemate is of no account.
"Essays," respecting the restrictions under which the King was supposed to move in the medieval game. We here find that the Black King, without being in check, commences by moving and capturing angularly, simply because it is the best move for him on the board. It is no ways a compulsory move on the part of Black, for he has his Rook still remaining, and he may move the latter if he chooses.
PROBLEM VI., FROM MS., NO. 16,856, FOLIO 41, A.
1 If he does not check, Knight's Pawn threatens mate next move, if he moves R to his own third square, then Q moves as above, and next move Black Rook must either move away or take Pawn which in either case finishes the game.