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"Persian and Modern Hindūstānī Game," he thus proceeds :
"I shall now make some observations on the foregoing games, and compare them with each other. As far as record is to be admitted in evidence, the first, or Hindū game, above described, is the most ancient, and to my apprehension, it has great internal marks of antiquity, namely, the imperfections incident to rudimental science. A view of the table, &c., will be sufficient to convince any one who has the least knowledge of tactics, or the science of Chess, of the imperfections of the Hindū game.
The weakest flank of each army is opposed to its antagonist's forte-and the piece in each army which would be of most use on the flanks, is placed in a situation where its operations are cramped; and although it appears that two armies are allied against the other two, yet the inconvenience of their battalia in a great measure remains; besides, it also appears that each separate army has to guard against the treachery of its ally, as well as against the common enemy; for it is recommended, and allowed to either of the Kings, to seize on the throne of his ally, that he may obtain complete command of both armies, and prosecute conquest for himself alone. But if the battalia were as perfect as in the European game, the circumstance of using dice, to determine the moves, is fatal to the claim of pre-eminence, or of science, which
1 The gallant Captain's criticism on the tactics of the ancient Hindū game is so much waste paper. He forgets that all depended, not on science, but on the dice; and these were just as much in favour of, or against, one party as another. He might as well have amused himself in exposing the weakness of Edinburgh Castle, a fortress which was deemed impregnable in the good old days of bows and arrows, but which, in the present state of our artillery, may be smashed in a few minutes from the commanding heights all around.-F.
attaches to the European game, and places the ancient Hindu game on a level with back-gammon, in which we often see the most consummate abilities defeated by chance.
Exclusive of the definition of the game in the Amarakosha, namely, that the four angas or members are Elephants, Horses, Chariots, and Foot-soldiers, there are contradictions in the rules given by Gotoma and others, translated by Radha-kant, which are irreconcileable, unless we suppose they treat of different games. The first says, that the King, the Elephant, and the Horse may slay the foe, but cannot expose themselves to be slain.' Hence we infer, that the Ship and Foot-soldier alone are vulnerable.1 In another place the commentator says, 'If a Pawn can march to any square on the opposite extremity of the board, except that of the King or Ship, he assumes whatever power belonged to that square, which promotion is called shat-pada, or six strides." This contradicts the former rule. And again, but this privilege of shat-pada was not allowable in the opinion of Gotoma; when a player had three Pawns on the Chess-board, but when only one Pawn and one Ship remained, the Pawn might even advance to the square of a King or Ship, and assume the power of either.' From the whole we may gather that in this game there is much abstruseness with little science, which affords strong presumption of its being rudimental.
"I have placed the Chinese game the second in the series, because there is a record of its relative antiquity; but not from conviction, for the next improvement of the ancient Hindu game appears to me to be that which at present obtains amongst the Burmhas, who are Hin
1 A wrong inference. Every piece on the board was vulnerable, the King himself not excepted.-Vide note 2, page 20.-F.
dūs of the Pali tribe, and derive all their literature and science from the common source.1 In the Burmha game the first dawn of perfection appears, while the ancient Hindū names, according to the Amarakosha, are retained, the two armies are consolidated, and commanded by a general immediately under the eye of the King, the order of the battalia improved, and chance rejected.
"The Persian game is but a slight variation in principle from the Burmha; the order of battle is restrained to one mode, and the Foot-soldiers and principals each drawn up at the extreme face of the board or field of battle, in rank entire, according to the improved system of modern warfare. Other alterations appear to me adventitious, or the effect of caprice rather than judgment. The modern European game appears an improvement on the Persian, and only requires that the original names should be restored to the pieces to give it full claim to pre-eminence.
"I am at a loss where to place the Chinese game, but its claims to precedence are of very little importance.
That Hansing introduced this game with modifications suited to the genius and manners of the Chinese, for the purposes already (vide Chap. XVII.) ascribed, I can readily believe; but the introduction of Artillery or Rocket-boys, the general perfection of the game, similitude to the Hindu game, and date of the supposed invention, are strong evidences against its originality.
"I shall conclude this long and irregular dissertation with noticing the various etymologies of the terms, pieces, &c., &c. The Honourable Mr. Daines Barrington
1 The Chess-men I had made at Amarapoorah, the Burmha capital, were the workmanship of some Cossays, natives of the kingdom of Munipore, who, as well as the Burmhas, are of the sect of Budda, and form the intermediate link between them and the Bengallies.-C.
has taken considerable pains on this subject in the essay above noticed; and the reason he assigns for the uncouth form of the pieces as made in Europe is very just, viz., that we received the game from the Arabs, who, as Mahommedans, being prohibited the use of paintings or engraved images, merely gave to their Chess pieces such distinct forms as enabled them to readily recognise them in play; and such arbitrary variation being once introduced, others naturally followed, according to the caprice or taste of each new innovator."
"But he differs from Dr. Hyde and Sir William Jones in respect to our Exchequer being named from the Chesstable; proving that the term was not directly so derived; but that is not proving it was not derived indirectly; for although the game of Chess might not have been known to the nations of modern Europe, so early as the Norman conquest, yet it appears from the check or reckoning board found at Pompeii, and from the Latin name Scaccarium,' that the use of the table was very early known in Europe, and therefore Sir William Jones may still be right in deriving exchequer from Chaturanga. One remarkable coincidence in the Asiatic tables may be noticed; they are all subdivided into sixty-four squares, but not checkered."
“The piece we call the King is also so styled in all the games that I know, except the Chinese, who call it the Choohong, or scientific in war. The piece we call the Queen, the Honourable Mr. Barrington derives from the Persian Pherz or General, and exposes the absurdity of calling this piece a Queen by asking how we are to
1 This is altogether wrong. "Scaccarium" is not a Latin word, but is evidently derived from "scachus," or "scaccus," a "chessman," and consequently is of recent formation. Now scaccus itself is nothing more or less than the medieval Latinized form of "Shah," which last has nothing on earth to do with "Chaturanga.”
metamorphose a Foot-soldier or Pawn into a Queen, as admitted in the English game, &c. Sir William Jones more correctly writes it Ferz, and adds, hence the French have derived Vierge, &c.' If so, the blunder arises from French gallantry. Vierge in French is Virgo, and consorted with the King, they, by a very natural transition, made their Virgin a Queen. But whence the Persian title of Ferz? Mr. Richardson merely informs us that Farz, Farzīn, Farzān, and Farzia, mean the Queen at Chess. The common term for this piece in the Persian language is Vizir or Wazir, a Minister, but in their emphatic way of writing and speaking, they have in this case made a noun substantive of a distinctive adjective, to denote the eminence of the piece, as I shall have further occasion to notice. Farz, or Farzān, therefore, neither means Queen nor General in a literal sense, but eminent, distinguished, &c. Farzi further means science, learning, wisdom, &c.
"The piece we call a Castle or Rook, the Honourable Mr. Barrington says, is derived from the Italian Il Rocco,
-but what is Il Rocco (the Castle) derived from? Sir William Jones says, "it were in vain to seek an etymology of the word Rukh in the modern Persian language, for in all the passages extracted from Firdausi and Jāmī, where Rukh is conceived to mean a hero, or a fabulous bird, it signifies, I believe, no more than a cheek or face.' My inquiries teach me, that in this instance, also, a name has been formed from a quality; and that in modern Persian Rookh means facing or bearing in a direct line; and applied to the Rukh at Chess, and its moves, is very appropriate; at the same time I have no doubt that the Persian word was originally derived with the game from the Hindus, who call the piece Roth and Rath, and denominate the Ship or Boat, which is substituted for