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It will be seen further that there are thirty-two squares which no Bishop could possibly penetrate; and that the White Bishops could not touch any square on the 2nd, 4th, 6th, or 8th horizontal files. Of course a similar rule applied to the Black Bishops, reckoning from their own side of the board. The Bishops, in the Chaturanga, for obvious reasons, moved on the thirty-two squares that became so many blanks in the Shatranj.' Lastly, a King placed on any of the blank squares, or on any square of the even horizontal files, reckoned from his own side of the board, was secure from the attacks of a hostile Bishop.
Lastly, when a Pawn reached the opposite extremity of the board, he obtained the rank of Farzin only, and never that of any other piece. He commenced thenceforth to move diagonally, one square at a time, being, of course, restricted to the colour of the square on which he had landed; hence, in many of the end-games given in the Oriental MSS. above described, we find two or three Farzins on either side of the board, of which more hereafter. Here, once more, the older Latin poem in Hyde agrees with us:
Cum Pedester usque summam venerit ad Tabulam,
Here we have the Arabic or Persian word Farz or Farzin slightly modified, although the term Queen had already become common. I may further observe that this standing rule of promoting the Pawns to the rank of
It will be remembered that when the Chaturanga was modified into the Shatranj, the Bishops, which then occupied the four corner squares, changed places with the Rooks; the consequence was that the former assumed a new career. It will be further observed that the five compartments where the Vrihannaukā might have occurred in the primæval game, are now so many blanks.
Farzin, in the mediaval game, sweeps away at once the whole rubbish that has been written about the nonantiquity of a "plurality of Queens," which Philidor and his sapient editor, Mr. Pratt, seemed to consider as a modern innovation.-Vide Pratt's Philidor, 1825, p. 514. Let me not be here misunderstood, when I speak of Philidor. I fully admit that he held the first rank in Chess-playing, but it does not thence follow that he ranked high in scholarship. Having now explained the moves of the pieces in the Shatranj, I shall henceforth discontinue the use of the terms "Farzin" and "Fil," using instead the well-known appellations of Queen and Bishop, the reader always bearing in mind their exact powers, and very limited range, on the board.
Relative Value of the Pieces.
In order to convey an idea of the relative powers or exchangeable value of the pieces, the Arabs and Persians have adopted the following quaint and practical method, founded upon their smaller denominations of money, viz., the silver dinār, or diram, or dirham, equal to our sixpence; the dang equal to our penny; and the tasu, equal in value to our farthing.
The King, they say, is beyond all value, on account of his rank, but in reality from the nature of the game. The value of the Rook is one dinar or six dangs; that of the Knight is four dangs. On these two points all our eastern MSS. agree. The value of the Queen, however, is less decided, as one MS. estimates her at three dāngs, and another only at two dangs and a half; perhaps two dāngs and three tasu, or twopence three farthings, is near the mark. The value of the Bishop is between a dang and a half and two dangs, we shall say one dang and three
tasu, or a penny and three farthings. The average value of the Pawns is one dang or penny each, but the two centre or Royal Pawns are worth a penny farthing, and, according to some, the King's Pawn is worth three halfpence. Again, the two side Pawns are worth only three farthings each. Finally, the nominal value of any particular piece or Pawn is liable to undergo considerable modifications according to circumstances. Thus it may happen that on certain occasions a Knight or even a Queen may be of more value than the Rook. So a Pawn, as it advances towards the opposite side of the board gradually assumes a value approaching to that of the Bishop; and ultimately that of a Farzin.
For the purpose of farther illustration of Oriental play, I shall here add two very fine positions, deservedly celebrated in the East. The first is by 'Adali Al Rūmi, a player of the very highest class, who flourished in the first half of our tenth century. The position is from fol. 4a of the Asiatic Society's MS., in which 'Adali's pieces are black; but these I have altered into white, simply because with us now-a-days, it is customary to make the white the winning party in our chess problems. The reader will perceive that the problem is a shade too good to have occurred in actual play; but, as the saying is, "if not true it is well invented." Of 'Adali himself I have not been able to find any account. From the first part of his name it is evident that he was an Arab; and from the second, I infer that he was born in Asia Minor or Rumelia. The term Rūm is rather vague, being applied to the Turkish Empire at large, as it had previously been to the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire.
1 Here the White Q. B. vaults over his own King and checks the adverse King over the adverse Bishop. In a paper on Chess, by Captain H. Cox, inserted in the "Asiatic Researches" (Vol. VII., 8vo edition, page 494), the writer says:"They (the Bishops) move diagonally in advance or retrograde, always two steps at a move, and have what Mr. Irvin calls the motion of a rocket-boy, hopping over any piece in their way except the King." Here, however, we see that there is no such exception, for the Bishop does hop over the King.
The following position is celebrated all over the East as Dilārām's Mate, whereby "hangs a brief tale," viz.Two Persian princes had engaged in such deep play, that the whole fortune of one of them was gained by his opponent. He who played the White was the ruined man; and, made desperate by his loss, he at last offered his favourite wife, Dilārām, as his stake. The game was carried on until he would have been inevitably Checkmated by his adversary on the next move. The Lady, who had observed the game from behind the parda, or gauze screen, that separated the females from the male portion of the company, cried out to her husband in a voice of despair
"Ai Shah! do Rukh bidih, wa Dilārām rā madih ;
"O Prince, sacrifice your two Rooks, and save Dilārām;
Forward with your Bishop and Pawn, and with the Knight give Check-mate." Dilārām's problem, modified so as to suit our boards, has for some time been known in Europe. It is given in a small work entitled "An Easy Introduction to the Game of Chess," &c., published in London in 1816, but I cannot say from what source. The following example of it is taken from the Museum MS., No. 16,856. I have seen several other versions both of the story and of the problem, all of which, however, agree in principle, though the non-combatant pieces on the left side of the board may be differently arranged. In a Chess article in the fourth volume of the "Chess Player's Chronicle," Mr. George Walker has given this problem along with several others "selected, (as he tells us), from an ancient Persian manuscript." The version differs from mine, and from the specimen of his Persian, I am strongly inclined to suspect the accuracy, as well as the antiquity of his manuscript.