Chess Variants/Maharajah and the Sepoys

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8a8 black rookb8 black knightc8 black bishopd8 black queene8 black kingf8 black bishopg8 black knighth8 black rook8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black pawnd7 black pawne7 black pawnf7 black pawng7 black pawnh7 black pawn7
6a6 black kingb6 black kingc6 black kingd6 black kinge6 black kingf6 black kingg6 black kingh6 black king6
5a5 black kingb5 black kingc5 black kingd5 black kinge5 black kingf5 black kingg5 black kingh5 black king5
4a4 black kingb4 black kingc4 black kingd4 black kinge4 black kingf4 black kingg4 black kingh4 black king4
3a3 black kingb3 black kingc3 black kingd3 black kinge3 black kingf3 black kingg3 black kingh3 black king3
2a2 black kingb2 black kingc2 black kingd2 black kinge2 black kingf2 black kingg2 black kingh2 black king2
1a1 black kingb1 black kingc1 black kingd1 black kinge1 Alf1 black kingg1 black kingh1 black king1
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Maharajah and the Sepoys starting position.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Maharajah and the Sepoys is an asymmetric variant from India that pits a powerful white king (the titular Maharajah) against the standard chess army (the Sepoys).

History[edit | edit source]

It is believed that a early version of this variant was played in India in the 12th century CE, but fell dormant shortly after. It was revived in 1871 by Kridakaushalya, an Indian games encyclopedia. The variant was first described in the Western world in 1892 by English author and architect Edward Falkener, who also gave the variant its name.

For reference, "maharajah" was a Sanskrit term for an Indian prince, and "sepoys" were the Indian soldiers recruited by the British to maintain their control over the subcontinent.

Rules[edit | edit source]

The Sepoys are given the standard chess army, with one exception - the pawns are all replaced with "weak pawns", which cannot promote. If a black weak pawn reaches the first rank, it simply stands there as an obstacle until captured.

The White player is only given one piece, the titular Maharajah, which possesses the combined powers of the queen and the knight. The maharajah is also royal, so it must move out of check if attacked. It may pass through attacked squares to land on a safe square.

The goal for both players is to checkmate the other's royal piece.

Sub-variants[edit | edit source]

This chess variant does not have any notable sub-variants.