Notes

Chaturaji: Four Player Chess from India

Check out chaturaji (“four kings”), an ancient four player chess-like game from India (there is also a two-play Indian strategy game related to chess called chaturanga).

Play

Chaturaji starting position: four armies distinguished by color.
Chaturaji starting position: four armies distinguished by color.

Each player has four pieces on the back rank: king, elephant, horse and boat, with four pawns in front of them on the second rank. The king moves like the chess king, the elephant like the chess rook and the horse like the chess knight. The boat moves like the chess bishop but is restricted to two squares diagonally, jumping over the intervening square. The pawn also moves as in chess (with no option of an initial double-step move). Also, the pawn’s promotion rules are different; a pawn promotes to the piece that starts on the same file (or rank) of the promotion square (king included) and only after that piece has been captured.

Goal

The goal of the game is to collect as many points as possible. Points are scored by capturing opponents’ pieces (pawn: 1, boat: 2, knight: 3, elephant: 4, king: 5). The king can be captured like any other piece.

Intrigue

  • Each of the four players’ pawns moves and captures in a different direction along the board.
  • When a boat completes a 2×2 square of boats, it captures the other three boats, a boat triumph.
  • The sum of points of three armies (54) is awarded to a player who captures all three opponents’ kings while keeping his own.
  • Players can ally.
  • In original play, two pieces could be moved in a turn and were determined by the roll of two dice.
  • Western chess board and pieces can be used to play Chaturaji.

From “Chaturaji,” Wikipedia.