Chaturanga Chess Set - the parent of them all (chess variant/board game)

Chaturanga Chess Set - the parent of them all (chess variant/board game)

Chaturanga Chess Set - the parent of them all


Chaturanga is an Indian game played on an 8x8 board. The 8x8 board is called an ashtapada, and is very likely the grandparent of the modern chess board. Where the game fits in our ancestry is less clear, but you can see some family resemblences: there are pawns/soldiers, a king, a horse and an elephant.


The elephant piece is found in lots of versions of chess -- in the Arab game shatranj it's called al-fil, it's the xiang in the Chinese chess game xiang-chi, and it's the name for the piece I call a Bishop in Russian. How do you get from an elephant to a Bishop? Well, you make a piece out of a lump of stone or wood, and add to it a pair of curving tusks. [] And over time, someone decides it looks like a Bishop's hat, a mitre. The French just took the sound of the word fil and got fou (fool).

The fourth piece shown here as a ship is sometimes shown as a chariot . Chariots are also seen in the Chinese form of chess. The name of the ship is retained in the Russian chess piece, ladya. A chariot is a box on wheels attached to a horse; in Chinese chess, they draw a wheel, but we get the shape of our piece from the little box or tower that sat on the wheels, so you get a piece called a Tower all over Europe (see Of course, the Brits, being British, designed a tower, then called it a chariot! ...for the name Rook comes from rukh (chariot) in Arabic.

If the history of chess interests you, try here:
If the language of chess interests you, try here:

Chess Quotes

"Have you ever seen a chess article without a brilliant example of the author's own play? 'Silly question,' you will say. Quite."
— Razuvayev, introducing Razuvayev-Bagirov 1982