Hiashatar, the Mongolian Decimal Chess

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Beside the regular Shatar Chess game played on a 8x8 board, there is also Hiashatar, a Great Chess played on a 10x10 board. It is said that this game appeared 500 years ago. Read some comments about it.

Most of the information given here has been found on Lev Kisliouk's web site. It is mirrored here.

Click to enlarge

The supplementary piece is a Hia, a Senior Adviser or a Warrior or a Bodyguard, placed between the Bishops and King and Queen. According to the consulted source, one can find as many as three versions for its move:

A) It moves by 2 squares in any direction. It is not said how it captures. (Rodolfo Pozzi, "I giochi di schacchi mongoli riflesso della cultura nomade delle steppe - The Mongolian chess sets reflecting the nomadic culture of the steppes", Chess Collector International, Philadelphia, 2002)

B) It must remain no more than one square away from its King and capture in diagonal foreward (like Pawns) or backward. It is not said how it move.(Rodolfo Pozzi, ibid)

C) It moves (and takes) any directions like the King but 1 or 2 squares. On its 8 surrounding squares, all (allied or ennemy) pieces can only move 1 step only, then the Bodyguard is very efficient in screening opposite attacks (Lev Kisliouk). It is not said if the Bodyguard can go away from its King. The King can not be taken by the opposite Bodyguard. It is not clear which effect the Bodyguard has on the opposite Horse. The Horse being so important in Mongolian life and in Shatar, I guess that it is not affected (screened) by the powers of the Bodyguards. Moreover, the jump in or out with 1 move only, so there is no need to have a specific rule.

All this is not fully consistent. My understanding are the following rules:

  • It moves 1 or 2 squares in all 8 directions but it can take at 1 square diagonally only. When moving 2 squares, it can cross empty squares only (it can not jump).
  • Also, on its 8 surrounding squares, all (allied or ennemy) pieces can only move 1 step only. Therefore, it is not advised that the Bodyguard go away from its King, but it is not forbidden.

Other rules:

  • In this game, the Bers is moving like the modern European Queen.
  • All Pawns can make an initial move of 1 or 2 or 3 squares. En-passant taking is possible.
  • All other pieces move like their Shatar counterparts.
  • There is no restriction on the valid endings like in Shatar.

A Hiashatar set (from Rodolfo Pozzi)

A metallic Hiashatar set. Here the Hia are Buddhist Advisers holding the sacred book, between the Bers and the Temee (Camel). The Pawns are little horses (top) and little camels (bottom). (Photo from R. Pozzi)

My deepest thanks to Rodolpho Pozzi and Lev Kisliouk (to whom I took the photograph and the drawing respectively).


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