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This page is written by the game's inventor, Jörg Knappen.

Knavish Shatranj

This game is inspired by Charles Gilman's Knavish Chess. The new pieces, knave and debtor, have a definite shatranjian feel, therefore I plug them into the original game of Shatranj.


The initial setup is the Shatranj setup with the following replacements: The Knights are replaced with Knaves, and the Alfils are replaced with Debtors.

The base rank consists of Rook, Knave, Debtor, Ferz, King, Debtor, Knave, Rook. The second rank is filled with 8 Shatranj pawns.


The Rook and the King are the same as in standard Shatranj and FIDE Chess (except for the absence of castling).

The Knave and the Debtor jump in 6 directions. The Knave has the verticalmost moves of the Knight and the horizontal moves of the Dabbaba. Placed on c3 it can jump to the squares b5, d5, b1, and d1 using the verticalmost knight move and to a3 and e3 using the horizontal dabbaba move. The Debtor is a knave rotated 90 degrees: It has the vertical dabbaba move and the horizontalmost knight moves. Placed on c3 it can jump to c1 and c5 using the vertical dabbaba move and to a2, a4, e2, and e4 using the horizontalmost knight move.

The Ferz moves one square diagonally.

The Shatranj pawns move like FIDE chess pawns without initial double move and without en passant captures. They promote to a Ferz on the eigth rank.


The rules of Shatranj apply. They differ from the rules of FIDE Chess in the following points:
  • Winning conditions are Checkmate, Stalemate, and bare King. Bare King is only a draw if the bared King can immediately bare the attacker's King as well.
  • Giving permanent check (i.e., repeating a position after a series of checks) is an illegal move.
  • Pawns promote to Ferz only. The are no pawn double steps.
  • There is no castling.


    Estimating the values of Knave and Debtor vs. Knight and Alfil leads me to the conclusion, that the Knavish Shatranj army qualifies for Shatranj with different armies.

    Four Knaves (or four Debtors) are needed to cover the whole board. This variant has only two Knaves (or two Debtors) for each team. The white Knaves cannot capture the black ones and vice versa; the same holds for the Debtors.

    It takes four Knaves (or four Debtors) and a King to checkmate a lone King. With Shatranj rules, one Knave and a King win against a lone (bared) King, unless the King can capture the last Knave immediately after loosing his last servant.

    Some german translations: The game is Shatranj mit Spitzbuben und Dabbessen, Spitzbube means Knave (this is the translation of one meaning of Knave and the initial Sp- relates to Springer [Knight]), Dabbes (pl. Dabbesse) is a south-west german dialectal word meaning clumsy one, dabbler and it is choosen because its sound relates to Dabbaba. So the names of the pieces are hints to their forward moves.

    This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

    By Jörg Knappen.

    Last revised by Fergus Duniho.

    Web page created: 2011-06-21. Web page last updated: 2021-03-08