Page images
[merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

White to move, and to give checkmate at the ninth move.

[blocks in formation]

1 Should black B take R with his Bishop, which he can do by vaulting over his own Knight, Black King will be mated in two moves by the White Knights. The rest of the moves, after Black's second, are all forced.

2 It will be observed that the Bishop does not command the square next to him.

3 Here we see at once the Bishop's power of moving and attacking; he checks

the adverse King through or over his own Rook.

4 A square not commanded by the adverse Queen.

5 Here the Rook is secure from the adverse Bishop; it at once checks the adverse King and defends the Queen.

6 A square which the adverse Queen cannot touch.

7 Protected by his own Bishop, and secure from the adverse B.

9 Black King cannot move towards his own side of the board on account of adverse Queen; nor can he move towards White's side on account of King and Pawn.

We shall conclude this chapter with one of the eighteen problems given in the Royal Asiatic Society's MS. as those by Khwaja 'Ali Shatranjī. It will be found in fol. 11в, and is said to have occurred to 'Ali when playing against an opponent to whom he had given the odds of the Queen's Rook. The position is quite simple and natural. 'Ali had the White, and we see that already he has gained two Pawns of his opponent. There must have been a good deal of manoeuvring with the Knights and Rook on the part of 'Ali so as to have brought the game to this state. It is now White's move, and we see that his Rook can take the Black Queen at once, for the Black Bishop does not command the square she is on--but checkmate is of course far preferable; for Khwāja 'Alī appears to have been one of those fastidious players who, when a good move presented itself, looked out for, and not unfrequently found, a much better move; a mode of play which, we humbly submit, is not altogether unworthy of the reader's imitation.

Of Khwaja 'Ali Shatranji I shall have occasion to speak more in a future chapter. In the mean time I may here state what is said of him by the author of the Habību-lSiyar—a well known Persian history. Khwaja 'Ali, of Tabriz, surnamed Shatranji, was an expounder of the Word of God (i.e. the Kurān), and an authority on all matters relating to traditions. In the science of Chess his knowledge was so profound that both the high and the low of his time unanimously proclaimed him their master. He played without seeing the board as well as if he were looking over it. He was in high favour with Timur, at whose court he passed much of his time, and with whom he frequently played."

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

1 His Bishop's fourth square is commanded by White Bishop.

2 Should he move to his Queen's fifth square, vide Variation A.

He cannot go to his Bishop's fourth which is commanded by White Bishop notwithstanding the intervention of the Rook.

4 If he did not move this pawn, the Queen would check next move at King's Knight's fourth square; and next move King's Knight's pawn would mate. 5 He may, instead, check with King's Knight's pawn, and mate with Queen

next move


First and second moves as before. 2. King to his Queen's 5th.

3. Rook to King's 4th check.


4. Queen's Knight's pawn checks. 4. 5. Q's Bishop's pawn Mates.1

King to Q. B 4th.
King to his Q's Kts. 3rd.

1 Black Bishop cannot take the pawn, for he has no power over the square immediately next to him.

After a careful study of the two foregoing positions, the reader will be fully qualified to follow us in what we have to state in the following chapters, which will contain all that is known to us respecting the Theory and Practice of the Shatranj. There are only two points defective, which, though not of paramount importance, would still be very interesting to us,-I mean the "Laws of Medieval Chess," and a few specimens of "Actually played Games." Unfortunately, neither of these desiderata is to be met with, so far as I know, in any work on Chess, previous to the sixteenth century. The mediæval manuscript Treatises on the Game, whether Oriental or Occidental, content themselves by giving us a few precepts of a general nature, together with a selection of Openings and End Games. These are all very excellent in their way; but, at the same time, I am inclined to think that a single well annotated game, from the hands of each of the three great Oriental masters, viz., Al Sūlī, Al 'Adali, and 'Ali Shatranji, would have been of more service to us than all the Treatises that have been written before the invention of printing. In the days of those heroes of the chequered field, there does not appear to have attended them a faithful, patient, and admiring esquire, such as our late William Greenwood Walker, who, like a shadow, every where followed our illustrious Macdonnell, for the sole pleasure of recording that

champion's prowess. The Oriental heroes, then, like those who "lived before Agamemnon," though not altogether illacrimabiles, yet are doomed to remain under some shade of obscurity-" carent quia vate sacro," that is because in those days there were wanting a D'Arblay to celebrate their combats in verse, and a Greenwood Walker' to chronicle the same in humble prose.

1 To this gentleman's enthusiastic industry we are indebted for the preservation of the splendid series of games between Macdonnell and De la Bourdonnais, played at the Westminster Chess Club, in 1834. A very clever poem ou one of the games won by Macdonnell-perhaps the boldest and most brilliant ever played-was written soon after by the Reverend Mr. D'Arblay, a talented member of the club, entitled "Caissa Rediviva," in which Mr. W. G. W. is thus alluded to.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »