A Note On Chess In 19th Century Turkestan

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A note by A. Chernevski in the 1877 Shakhmatny Listok described two chess variants played in Samarkand, present-day Uzbekistan. One, the “Bukharan game”, is a slightly modified version of shatranj, similar to Rumi chess as described in Murray’s History of Chess. The other, the “Persian game with a queen” resembles to some extent the Persian chess described in 1846 in the Chess Player’s Chronicle but differs from it in several important aspects. Chernevski’s information, which includes recorded games by native players, is absent from later sources on chess history. A summary of Chernevski’s report is provided, with a discussion of several other historical chess variants, and various errors that have crept into their description in the literature.

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