Maharajah and the Sepoys
, originally called Shatranj Diwana Shah
, is a popular chess variant
with different armies for white and black. It was first played in the 19th century in India
Black has a full, standard chess
") in the usual position. White is limited to a single piece, the maharajah
, which can move as either a queen
or as a knight
on White's turn. Black's goal is to checkmate
the maharajah, while white's is to checkmate black's king. There is no pawn promotion
The asymmetry of the game pits movement flexibility and agility against greater force in numbers. By perfect play
black always wins in this game, at least on an 8x8 board. According to , "A carefully playing black player should be able to win. However, this is not always easy, and in many cases, when the white 'Maharaja' breaks through the lines of black, he has good chances to win."
The general winning method is for black to advance his pieces in such a way that no piece is ever a legal target for capture and no opportunity to check the king is given. Once the Maharaja is boxed into a sufficiently small area, a win is then forced rapidly.