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Siam Chess Game. How Many "Mets" Will Finish Off The Naked King Of Siam?[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jose Carrillo wrote on 2010-02-10 UTC
3 little queens!

George Duke wrote on 2010-02-08 UTC
Like current discussion that one Wazir is not enough mating material, Rene Gralla starts this off ''How many pieces of that piece named ''met'' to checkmate?'' How many Ferzs? The answer is the last sentence: ''At first you will need a foursome -- in the end, it is just a trio...'' Does not colour matter?

Ludwig wrote on 2007-06-21 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Game of Draw?

Dear Everybody,

Every great game offers an equal opportunity of winning to both opposite
players. Let’s look around us, a card game of bridge, FIDE chess, draft
etc. are all games of draw, especially when the opponents do everything
right. No blunder I meant! Both players have equal chances of winning.
That’s fair for both the players with the same level skill of playing to
win. In boxing (all kinds of), do you think opponents have an equal chance
of winning. No! Why not? There are many factors but one depends on their
skills of fighting. They weigh the same, though. Turn to FIDE chess. It’s
also a game of draw. In these games we can see that a stronger player
(more skillful) always beat a weaker one. That is because of their skill,
isn’t it? Or in another their intelligence! In FIDE chess does a stronger
player always win over a weaker one. This happens too in Thai chess or

Things should not be judged by those who have not been qualified for them.
We don’t compare an F1 driver with a rally driver because they are
different. Remember both kind of races are involved with cars, but they
are different. Nobody judge which one is better. 

Every variant kind of chess is all different. Yes, they are chess but
different. In chess, results of playing always ends in draw, as we find in
FIDE chess. This is why a tournament of FIDE chess is composed for
opponents with many games, 19 games for example. In a tournament of Thai
chess, only three games (with 2 more tie-break games) are available for
the final round. This is not impossible for a stronger player to beat a
weaker one. I have been playing Thai chess for years. I have been knows
among friends that I am a strong player. I can say that Thai chess is not
a game of random or luck. It is a game of intelligence. Since the Thai
chess men are not so powerful as those of FIDE chess, the players
concentrate more and do everything right in each move to occupy the most
powerful area of the chess board. In Thai chess, this is more difficult. A
great play must learn how to take advantage to occupy the most important
squares with the least number of chess men. Thai chess is much more
strategic than FIDE chess, Vladimir Kramnik has said.

It’s fair to judge A superior to B without real acknowledgement.

A stronger player can win. (to be continued)

George Duke wrote on 2007-06-19 UTC
Apropos Siam Chess, Gralla is saying that irrespective question of any flaw, it has cultural roots. Mathematician and writer Spengler was contemporary of mathematician and World Chess Champion Lasker. Lasker has essay 'Reform in Chess', what we now call CVs, pre-FIDE almost 100 yrs. ago. Lasker's idea was not so drastic as Capablanca's few years later. Spengler says, 'If mathematics were a mere science like astronomy or mineralogy, it would be possible to define their object.' --provocative could still be Platonist, or Pythagorean, in Classical cycle ending circa year 250, when it shifts to Arabia.

Mark Thompson wrote on 2007-06-19 UTC
'Oswald Spengler writes ...'There is not, and cannot be, number as such. There are several number-worlds as there are several Cultures.... Consequently, there are more mathematics than just one.''

Then for Spengler, what would be the point of discussing mathematics, since what one mathematician says might be true for his culture but not for his audience's? Similarly, to the extent that his idea applies to chess variants, what is the point of having a forum on them? (The underlying philosophical issue, as I recall from my undergraduate days long ago, is expressed succinctly as 'whether truth is one or many.')

I believe Spengler's viewpoint is more popular among sociologists and certain modern philosophers than it is among mathematicians, who tend to be Platonists, at least with regard to mathematics.

George Duke wrote on 2007-06-19 UTC
[To the extent Chess is a 'mathematic':] Oswald Spengler writes in 'The Decline of the West'(transl. German)at 'Meaning of Numbers': There is not, and cannot be, number as such. There are several number-worlds as there are several Cultures. We find an Indian, an Arabian, a Classical, a Western type of mathematical thought and, corresponding with each, a type of number--each type fundamentally peculiar and unique, an expression of a specific world-feeling, a symbol having a specific validity which is even capable of scientific definition, a principle of ordering which reflects the central essence of that particular Culture. Consequently, there are more mathematics than just one. The style of any mathematic which comes into being, then, depends wholly on the Culture in which it is rooted.

M Winther wrote on 2007-06-18 UTC
Dear René, I am surprised that people took offence by my evaluation of Makruk. It's not like I deride it. I argue that it takes too long to enter tactical skirmishes. Practice has also shown that games between equal masters typically end in a draw. I have tried the Zillions implementation and it does not conform to *my* preferences. This is not euro-centrism. I have been a tenacious critic of Fide-chess, too, and presented several 'improvements' to our royal game.

I am, however, interested in the underlying principle of Makruk, namely that of the rook as the only long-range piece. So I created a game with the same motif, namely Elephant Chess. Here the battle begins early, and it is not a drawish variant, I'm sure.

In fact, I have tried the Shatranj game in the Zillions freeware. I think that the Alfil is an awkward piece. It's worth hardly more than a centre pawn. It's amazing that they played this game for 900 years. Talk about conservatism!

René Gralla wrote on 2007-06-17 UTC
RE: The comment by M. Winter

Though M. Winter now has tried to back down a little bit with regard to his initial statement that even Burmese Chess is supposed to be 'better' than Thai Chess - not to speak of all the other variants of chess that are discussed at - that initial statement stands as it stands.
And that very statement is totally unacceptable, there is no way to justify that. And of course that initial statement has nothing to do with a somewhat 'scientific' discussion of that topic:   i f   M. Winter's approach would have been a scientific one he would never have made a statement like that - that other chess variants than Thai Chess are supposed to be 'better' than Thai Chess - , since, provided M. Winter's approach would have been a scientific approach, then he would never have used a terminology like that in this very context.
Just a few words: Thai Chess is the No.1-chess variant in Thailand and Cambodia. The Western Chess - of which many 'farang' (foreigners) wrongly assume that that variant of chess (which is a more or less new variant of chess) is the only valid variant of chess - is just a variant of chess for a very small group of players.
Thai people would be suprised if they would learn that M. Winter pretends that Thai Chess is too drawish and therefore not worthwile the effort to be played  - he can just travel over there and try to reach a draw against a player of Thai Chess, and he will soon learn how fast he will get beaten up in that supposed to be 'drawish' variant of chess.
And even if Thai Chess would be a drawish variant, it has a great cultural and historic value anyway - since Thai Chess is that variant of nowadays chess that is closest to ancient Shatranj. So, by playing modern days Thai Chess, you get an idea how it would have been like to play the ancient Shatranj.
The position of M. Winter is just the usual expression of arrogant euro-centrism - and it is surprising that such a position has been put forward with regard to a variant of chess like the Thai Chess that is the revered variant of chess by millions of players in Thailand and Cambodia.

Graeme Neatham wrote on 2007-06-17 UTC

My apologies, I should learn not to post during a sleepless night. I reacted (over-reacted?) to your statement 'Should one really waste energy studying an inferior variant?', without paying due attention to the context.

M Winther wrote on 2007-06-17 UTC
Graeme, on this site people are encouraged to judge variants according to the values Poor, Below Average, Average, Good, and Excellent. It is fully appropriate to be 'judgemental' about variants. I'm not saying that I have objective criteria. I create and judge variants according to my own credo. I don't have recourse to objective criteria when judging political parties either. Nevertheless, it is regarded as model conduct to judge this party as good and that party as bad. This discussion goes on in science, too. In every journal in the hard sciences, and in the humanities. people are judging this and that theory as inferior and instead propose a better one. To be able to judge products of human thought is essential to modern thinking and the notions of democracy and science. 

Graeme Neatham wrote on 2007-06-16 UTC

Again let me ask for the avoidance of judgemental terms. I am happy for variant A to be described as 'more drawish' than variant B, but feel that the jump from such a statement to the judgement 'variant A is inferior to variant B' is unsupported. The most that can be said is that 'variant B is to be preferred to variant A if you dislike drawn games'

M Winther wrote on 2007-06-16 UTC
Graeme, I did not mean to say that it's inferior because it's sedate. I argue that it's inferior because it's too drawish. Poompat from Thailand writes:

'Thai chess gained much popularity in the 1990s, with 5-7 televised national events/year, but after lots of published analysis, the knowledge of Thai chess techniques + stategies seem to have reached the peak. Sadly, almost all serious games between similar-level pros are draws. Now, they have to invent tie-break games called 'Makpong' (Defensive Chess) wherein the player who checks the opponent's king such that he has to MOVE the king wins. BAD IDEA!'

David Paulowich wrote on 2007-06-16 UTC

This page is about winning endgames. 'Certain endgame rules, similar to the 50-moves rule, but perhaps even more similar to the endgame rules of Thai Chess (Makruk), are used.' - from the Sittuyin (Burmese Chess) page. It does not make sense to comment here regarding the opening phase of the game in Makruk and Sittuyin.

'Promotion is very important to the value of Pawns, but as long as you promote to something decisive the value of what you promote to is unimportant ... Rook versus four Ferzes of the same color is a draw in FIDE Chess, but in Shatranj the ancient masters say that the four Ferzes win... ' writes Ralph Betza in Thoughts on Chess with Different Pawns. In other words, Pawn promotion needs to be linked to the victory conditions. After dropping the 'Bare King Rule' in my recent attempt at a Grand Makruk variant, I chose promotion to the War Elephant, trusting that King and War Elephant can force a stalemate victory against a lone King. Makruk is a 'modern' chess variant, where stalemate is a draw, causing problems when all you have left on the board is a Met (Ferz) or two.

Graeme Neatham wrote on 2007-06-16 UTC

Please, please, please try to avoid the use of judgemental terms such as better or inferior. Descriptive terms such as sedate or aggressive are objective and helpful, but to equate sedate with worse, or aggressive with better is purely subjective and unhelpful.

M Winther wrote on 2007-06-16 UTC
Makruk (Thai Chess) begins with a very sedate opening, and, between masters, the game usually ends in a draw, because it is a quite drawish variant. I suggest that Burmese Chess is better, because here the tedious opening phase is revoked, and the nearness to the promotion squares makes the game more aggressive, I suppose. I argue that many variants presented on this site, which are played by no one, are much better than Makruk. This gives one something to think about. Should one really waste energy studying an inferior variant?

Ed wrote on 2007-06-15 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I absolutely love when contributions to CV discuss how best to play chess variants. I thought that anyone who appreciated this article might like additional studies on Makruk endgame.

I found a very interesting site presenting 224 Makruk checkmate problems at The page is in Thai, but that should be no limitation on usefulness to anyone. The positions and their solutions are all diagramatic.

The checkmate problems begin at the sixth link down on the left on the main page. The pages are generally thematic and stress how to deliver checkmate efficiently with minimal material.

nath wrote on 2006-01-24 UTC
Dear Dr.Rene

I mean no offence to your work. But I have to tell you once again that
only 3 Mets can checkmate the lone king in less than 32 moves. it is just
true in any position given. The only requirement is you need a pair of Met
in different diagonal.

I am Thai and had been playing Thai Chess regularly for more than five
year. Back to the time when I Started to learn Thai chess, the 3  Mets
endgame was one of  besic endgames I have to practice (as most of Makruk
learners do). It has been proved for more than 500 years that 3 Mets can
checkmate a lone king in less than 32 moves, which is more than enough to
win the game regardless of any special rule should be applied(In this 3
Mets case, like Ludwig has said, you have to checkmate in 64 moves and
start counting at 6). Ludwig said that the beginners can checkmate in 50
moves, which is just enough. And I would say that any experienced player
can checkmate in 32 moves or less. That why we call it the easiest way to
win the Makruk.

So, your conclusion is wrong and you have to admit that. It provides a
wrong understanding of this game and not much helpful to the beginners. I
would kindly (and most friendly) ask you to revise your conclusion to be
more correct and more useful to anyone who interest in this game

I dont visit this site regularly, if you have any question you can contact
me at I am now in Bangkok and it would be great if
we can discuss about the game we love and the special rules that are not
yet clearified. Or even play some real games online and I will show you
how to finish the lone king with 3 Mets in a real game.

Best regards


Ludwig wrote on 2005-07-01 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Only 3 queens are more than enough to checkmate your opponent before he or she reaches the end of the counting rules (of 64 moves, number of chessmen left on the board are included before the counting begins. In this case -the opponent's one naked king, your king and the rest three queens, make the counting of five, so the next move of the naked king is six.) Normally, a beginner of Thai chess can do his or her job by checking mate his or her opponent's king within fifty moves (of the naked king.) This is the easiest way of checking mate.

Dr. René Gralla wrote on 2005-06-29 UTC
The good advice - plus my conclusion - that it takes 4 Thai Chess Queens to checkmate the Thai Chess King is based on practical and realistic considerations: That is an advice that is focused to a player who wants to play real matches of Thai Chess against real adversaries - and who wants to win those matches.
Background: true - if you let calculate the moves by a computer it is possible to checkmate the 'naked' King of Siam by an enemy King plus 3 Queens only. But that possibility is just theory: it has nothing to do with real matches on the board. If you are playing a real match - and if you are unwise enough to capture the whole enemy army except the opposite King - then a special rule of Thai Chess is going to get effective: YOU HAVE TO START COUNTING the legal moves to checkmate the naked king - and that is LESS than 50 moves.
  • The number of legal moves is dependant on a specific and rather obscure system of counting your own pieces and the enemy pieces plus applying a system of evaluation of the type of pieces that are left on the board plus the number of moves that are legal under that very consideration and under that very evaluation of the very kind of pieces that are left on the board.
  • That difficult system is explained - to name one example - at . Frankly spoken I do not understand that system - and as the great chess journalist Tim Krabbé/The Netherlands has reported on his experiences with the Cambodian Ouk Chatrang (that happens to be quasi identical to Mak Rook)that system seems to be difficult to understand, so that very system is inviting to (most friendly, of course!) manipulations by Thai adversaries during matches against 'farang', the foreigners. That is the real background for my most practical advice: do not be too confident that you have, whilst playing a match of Mak Rook, enough time/moves left for check-mating your opponent's King by the help of King & 3 Queens - by some 20,30 moves or so; maybe you have not applied that specific Thai system of counting the legal number of moves that are left for legally check-mating well enough ... and your opponent will declare the match to be 'drawn', to your great dismay and frustration (and, if you do not believe that, please read again that funny reportage by Tim Krabbé on his chess trip to Cambodia - that has happened to him). So, if you have the chance to achieve that, I am sticking to my good advice: If you have the chance it is better to get 4 Queens instead of three; and please be careful enough not to eat all the pieces of your adversary if you are not forced to do so. What is Queen no. 4 good for during the finale of a match? That Queen can flexibly be used for two purposes - on the one hand, to close the drag net that is encircling the enemy King (and how that can be executed that is demonstrated by our game of demonstration);on the other hand, to avoid Zugzwang on your part and to use Zugzwang as a weapon - that is forcing your opponent into that position that will lead him into doom (again that match of demonstration that has been published in the foregoing is demonstrating how that way of operating will work).

True: in the end you will watch - as in the sample game just discussed in the foregoing is demonstrated - that three Queens are enough for the composition of the final position of checkmate; but the long way to reach that position that has been much easier to go because of the Black Army having been able to mobilize 4 Queens instead of a threesome. So, again, the good advice of our headliner is a good advice for a practitioner who wants to test Mak Rook in real play: 4 Queens are a very convenient way to checkmate the enemy King of Mak Rook in due time - if you have 'only' 3 Queens then there is the strong risk that you will not reach checkmate before your opponent will trumpet 'drawn!'.
Dr. René Gralla, Hamburg/Germany

nath wrote on 2005-04-30 UTC
I dont agree to your conclusion. We only need three met to finish a lone king. As in this game, you dont need met from b6. Just try to move Met from C3 to B2 and king from C4 to C3. There will be only two possible move for the lone king (A2 and B1) and othere two met will get the job done.

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