Oblong Chess

Les échecs oblongs

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Shatranj al-Mustatîla or Oblong Chess is mentionned in several Arab manuscripts. It was also named al-Tawîla (Long) or al-Mamdûda (Lengthened). Its form was perfect to fit at the back of a Nard (i.e. modern Backgammon) rectangular table. Also, like that race game, Oblong Chess could be played with dice.

The claimed source of all Muslim manuscripts mentionning this game, and this is plausible, is
al-‘Adlî. Then, this game would be known in the 9th century which make it the earliest Chess game played with dice.

Its longevity has been quite long as it was witnessed at Tamerlane court by Ibn ‘Arabshâh in the 14th century.


Pieces are exactly those of Shatranj. The board has 4x16 squares.

 Several setups have been reported. Murray gave the following in addition:


All moves are identical to those of Shatranj. However, the piece to move is determined by a die: 6=Shah, 5=Minister, 4=Elephant, 3=Horse, 2=Rukh, 1=Pawn.

One needs to obtain a 6 to move his Shah. If he does not get it and if he can not get away from check, he must pass his turn without playing as long as this situation remains. He stayed immobilized, checked and threatened if in the meantime his opponent get a die allowing its capture.

This game can be played without dice as well, of course!