Samantsy, the Madagascan Chess
Les échecs malgaches
Samantsy is Madagascan Chess, Chess once played by the Tanala people living in the forest of the Ikongo in South-East Madagascar.
The names of the pieces and their meanings are the following :
Reports of Madagascan Chess are very scarce. Pritchard (Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, 1994) is our main source here. Madagascan people are rather known to play Kotra, a 4-rows Mancala, and Fanorona, a very captivating and original capture game, probably derived from the Arabic Alquerque (al Qirkat).
Murray believed that there was no Chess form in Madagascar ("A history of Chess", Oxford, 1913, p95). Apparently, he was not well informed on this topic. It is true that the first description came at about the same period only (Ardant du Picq, Bulletin de l'Académie Malgache, 1912 - Source: Pritchard)
Madagascan idioms are related to the Austronesian group which is mainly found in South East Asia and in the Pacific Ocean. Then, one can imagine the game brought by those navigators in the first millennium AD. However, since the moves are exactly those of the Shatranj, it is most likely that Samantsy comes from the Arabs. This is reinforced by the fact that this region of the Great Isle was in very tight relationship with Arabs merchants.
Players of Fanorona
The Ikongo forest