My First Ever Game of Chaturanga | How Chess was Played 1000 Years Ago

In this video, I play my first ever game of Chaturanga against IM Levy Rozman (@GothamChess).
This was originally streamed on our Twitch Channels:
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Chaturanga is an older form of chess with different rules that was played 1,000 years ago. Learn more about Chaturanga here:
Play Chaturanga (along with other variants) here:

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Eric Rosen
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397 Comments

  1. you guys are really good for the first time playing

  2. you can win by taking all your opponent's pieces…

  3. The idea of having a light squared queen and dark squared queen feels so wrong

  4. I've played this on my own a few times, and I'm getting more into it. I find that the gaja (bishop) is limited in what it can do. I often forget that the mantri (queen) can only move on the diagonal one space, forward and backward, not along the rank or the file like in chess. I don't feel limited by the absence of en pass or two-space initial move for the padāta (pawn). I've even played "anti-chaturanga" a handful of times.

    There is a reason for limiting the power of the mantri (queen) and the gaja (bishop). The ratha (rook), or chariot in English was the fastest moving thing aside from the aśva (knight). The aśva's agility is represented by its L-shaped move. The long-distance move by the ratha (rook) reflects its quick movement on the field. The limitations on the movements of the chessmen reflects the simpler, limited weaponry, and a more dharmic mindset that was able to limit its desires for ultimate power (war everywhere and every which way you want; anything goes) AND decorum on the battle field. Think of it this way. The European was enamoured with military machinery that could wipe out more men faster than before. Kind of like the cowboy in "Time Rider" when he realized that the future man's motorcycle was a machine (and he died trying to keep it). The expansion of the chessmen's movements reflects that mindset of greed for more power, more capability on the field, which only ends in total destruction. Perhaps even in the habitability of the planet for living beings. That's why the Indians traditionally didn't go there, especially after the Mahābhārata War, where divine weapons, or āstras with unimaginable destructive power, were used by select warriors on the field, and after the war was over, the deity Śrī Kṛṣṇa took away these weapons from us. We haven't had access to them for over 7500 years.

    It's funny that when you come out of a western game into an eastern variant of chess, your western minds lock up, and you can't figure out how to get into the middle game, never mind the end game. It is INTERESTING when you say that this is too "trippy." Being based on memory and the ingraining of your skills in a rote way, this is too far around the bend for your minds. That is particularly true when people who are from a Christian background try to take to Hindūism – that is way too far around the bend for them because it requires you to completely change 1) how you see yourself, 2) how you see others, 3) your relationship with mother Earth, 4) how you see living beings who depend on her for survival, 5) the relationship with The One, and 6) how one can relate to it. It becomes too much, and you come back to your comfortable space of western chess, where the rules, tactics, and strategies are well-known, manifestations of a type of mindset you have.

    One limitation of western chess (from the Indic perspective) is the heavy reliance on memory. I'm reminded of the Polgar's phenomenal memory when it comes to looking at a board and memorizing a given position in a game. As long as a known or memorized position is used, both ladies can call out all 32 chess men on the board blindfolded. HOWEVER, it is a different story altogether when you throw chessmen on the board randomly and have them try to call all positions on the board blindfolded. Nope. Can't do it. That is a MAJOR limitation of relying only on memory. Even relying on the spelling and pronunciation exception tables for languages like English can become problematic if you do not use the languages frequently in writing, OR you become exposed to Indic languages with well-defined rules for spelling and pronunciations. I find that as a result of using Hindī and Sanskrit to the extent I do, I'm losing bits and pieces of the spelling exceptions table, and it gets frustrating because I spend a fair amount of time in using and learning these languages. Even the pronunciation exceptions table doesn't help to PREDICT how I'm going to pronounce a word I've never seen before to start with, only to remember how I have pronounced OTHER known words before. Such tables or memorization of such things in chess, I suspect, take up a lot of "memory" space and keep us from being more engaged in higher-order functions of the mind. I can only say (since I'm in India and root for India) that a teacher I have learned under for some time said that he was offered the chance to train a child of an Indian person in America, and he refused on the grounds that he does not train like a western chess coach because of how he approaches chess from the Indic perspective. He does not train students for western competitions. That's all I can say there.

  5. I read the kings on the opposite side of each other rather than facing each other. I guess since the queen can't move across the board

  6. I am not accusing you of anything Mr. Rosen but how is this your first game if your rating was 1503

  7. Levy with the first ever NFT in the background

  8. Amazes me how illogical this game was back in the day.

  9. At 6:23 was thinking maybe … Bb4 from Black and then if cxb4, then Nxb4 followed by Nd3+

  10. could've just jumped over that took to take the knight

  11. I like the idea, but I can't find it to play it online…

  12. Back then people played Chaturanga using dice
    This one is Shatranj(Chatrang in middle persian) the persian version of Chaturanga.

  13. can pawns not capture bishops? there were a few times where it seemed like an easy choice if you could? but im also 700 Elo so maybe there was a pin / tactic i was missing? or they forgot?

  14. I thought the kings don't face each other?

  15. Finally, a variant where it's perfectly fine to hang your "Queen." 😂

  16. i see some similarities with chinese chess

  17. Chess in Mahabharat was played in 10×10 board called Dashpaad. The name of the game was called Shadyantra in those days. Game can be played with dice (2 team game) and without dice for 2 players.

    Chakraview was also a similar game played in Mahabharat times.

  18. play it on 0.5x speed from 15:39 and you can hear they're high out of their minds

  19. This is so boring. Each bishop has access to only 8 of 64 squares. Opposing bishops or queens can never take each other.

    I guess the expectation is that you will get many queens on board. This is monotonous.

  20. This is more like Chinese chess. Seems like these chesses came from the same origin.

  21. Not much different, but before the english chess in 18th century the chess rules also depended on country not just on timeline. Also some visual/meaning changes were made. Rook means kid of a boat, but originally it was symbolising a chariot which made sense looking at the piece, it doesn't look like a boat but we call it rook for some reason…. And bishop is an elephants trunk but english thought of the weird bishop hat so they called it bishop.

  22. Yeah, the original is from India and they're not exactly sure how all the pieces move but this evolved from that and then modern chess evolved from this version when it was brought north and west into Europe.

  23. Technically chess is just a chaturanga variant

  24. Thoss are not bishops, they're bish… And not queen, but que

  25. Chess is a game invented in Spain in the late fifteenth century.

    The only reasons why these historical games like Chaturanga and Shatranj are considered closer relatives to Chess than say the way more complex Shogi and Janggi are geographical

  26. This seems like a weird fusion of Chinese chess and modern chess, it's pretty amazing

  27. seeing 2 top level chess players playing like this is really funny and sad to me. Eric has Levy at least 3 times I spotted, where in that endgame Levy blundered a queen and it was just over. I guess they just get their brains so used to the chess board, adapting must be really tricky.(also with the pressure of actually playing and not observing)

  28. It's sad that the pawn can only promote to an arguably worse piece, the queen

  29. i wonder if the "kadás opening" is the meta here

  30. Chaturanga: where sacrificing the queen for a pawn is good

  31. I’d like to see a lot of these top chess streamers try other foreign chaturanga variants. We all obviously know, and hopefully love, chess. It’s the game I grew up playing and can’t get enough of. But I also really like xiangqi and have recently been getting very into shogi. I’d like to see games like that get more recognition from the chess community.

  32. To imagine the Indians have been playing this for thousands of years is mind blowing!

    Modern Chaturanga is not that different.

  33. It makes sense that the queen would be weak if it was to mimic real life but someone upgraded the piece at some point. Early misguided feminism, I suppose 🙂

  34. we call rooks as elephants in hindi and ancient indian armies at that time used to rely heavily on elephants maybe that's why they probably made them so op in this one

  35. Feels like when you jump to an alternate universe

  36. Thought these were going to have different pieces

  37. How I felt playing MC’s Classic Creative 3.30

  38. "Did they have the 50 move rule back then??"
    (is playing using a timer)

  39. They actually did have the 75 move rule

  40. Yea now you know why Indian players are hard

  41. I realize that the queen here moves like a queen from the checkers game. What an interesting relationship.

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