Chess variant very popular in Thailand and Kambodia, where it is played by millions of people, important tournaments are shown in TV and newspapers publish Makruk games and problems. The game is probably derived from chaturanga, therefore it bears some similarities to Shatranj.
1. Pieces and Movement
Makruk can be played with a traditional chess set, 8x8 board is used and the starting position is similar, only queens and bishops are replaced with differently moving pieces.
Comparing to Shatranj, the only change in piece set is that alfil is replaced with khon.
Note that in the initial setup kings are not staying on the same file. This is important as thanks to it both mets are of the same colour.
Some websites about Makruk (or Cambodian Chess) mention also additional special moves of the king (opportunity to make knight move on the very first king move, only if king is not checked) and queen (move straight to e3/d6). Those rules happen to be used in street play (just to accelerate opening a bit), but are not allowed in serious tournaments. They are also not available on schemingmind.
2.1. Comparison with chess
The rules of Makruk are similar to Standard Chess, with the following exceptions:
- Pawn promotion occurs on 6th rank
Special counting rule limits length of the game, allowing a player to claim a draw in special situation (see description below).
- There is no 3-fold repetition and no 50-move rule (both are replaced by counting rule).
- Different pieces are in use, we have khon and met instead of queen and bishop (see above)
There are check and checkmate, and they work just as they do in standard chess. There is stalemate and it is a draw.
2.2. Comparison with shatranj
Comparing to Shatranj initial position is changed, khon replaces alfil, pawn promotion occurs earlier, stalemate is a draw and counting rule introduces specific endgame handling (of course there is no bare king victory).
2.3. First counting rule (no pawns)
When neither side has any pawns (all are promoted or taken), the game must be finished within 64 moves, or it is declared draw. Traditionally the side who is in disadvantage is counting the moves, and is allowed to stop counting if he or she no longer feels at disadvantage.
The counting rule is not yet enforced by the server, see below how it should be handled in meantime.
2.4. Second counting rule (bare king)
When one side remains with a bare king (last other piece is captured), the counting is restarted. But, in this case, the moves number is calculated in a special way, as X-Y, where Y is the count of all the pieces remaining on the board and X is dependant on the stronger side material (pick the first matching rule):
- At least two reuua (rooks): 8 moves
- At least one reuua (rook): 16 moves
- At least two khons (bishops): 22 moves
- At least two maa (knights): 32 moves
- At least one khon (bishop): 44 moves
- At least one maa (knight): 64 moves
- Only mets (queens) left: 64 moves
So, if white has king, two rooks and knight versus lone black king, he must deliver mate in 8 (two rooks) - 5 (five pieces) = 3 moves, or the game is declared draw. Or if white has king, khon, two mets and a pawn versus lone king, he has 44 (at least one khon) - 6 (six pieces) = 38 moves.
Some players mistakenly restart counting if black captures some white piece, this is not correct.
The counting rule is not yet enforced by the server, see below how it should be handled in meantime.
2.5. The counting rule is not yet enforced
The counting rule is not yet implemented in the server - when it is, the server will simply allow to claim a draw once the counting rule criteria are fulfilled. Until then, the weaker player is expected to perform those calculations and to offer a draw at correct moment adding a note about expired counting rule (those duties replace counting in normal game) and the stronger player is expected to accept such offer (after verifying whether it is correct).
Unfortunately, because the rule is not yet enforced by the server, the counting rule can only be used voluntarily by either player. The use of the counting rule should be agreed by both players before the game or tournament starts and the webmaster will not terminate a game based on this rule unless this agreement is clear at the beginning of the game discussion.
3. Game hints
3.1. Pieces strength
The strongest piece is of course reuua (rook), followed by maa (knight). Khons (bishops) are also fairly useful thanks to the possibility of changing the square colour (they seem more useful than knights especially while trying to mate weaker opponent). As promotion is rather easy, met (queen) value does not significantly exceed the value of the pawn.
To be written (a few sample openings)
To be written
As pawns are exchanged or promoted fairly quickly (pawns need only 3 moves to reach promotion square) endgame must be defined differently than in standard chess, probably as the situation when kings remain without pawns and with only a few supporting pieces.
Counting rule impacts endgame significantly. In particular, there are different sacrificial combinations where the weaker side gives up the last piece(s) to secure the draw thanks to the counting rule. For example, in king and rook versus king and two rooks, in many cases weaker side can sacrifice the rook as the opponent will not be able to deliver a checkmate in four moves.
Do not forget that khons are assymetric. So, for example, it may be easier to checkmate opponent's king on 8th rank, than on the first rank or on the sideline.
More to be written
4. Example games
Some example games, picked from those few already played:
All those games contain blunders, this is natural considering makruk is just starting its schemingmind life. If you played or observed good makruk game, feel free to add it here.
Rooks can mate - rooks still can deliver a mate, like in standard chess,
Mating with khon and two mets - some example of mating with small material (not sure whether black defended perfectly, he would have to survive until move 98 to draw due to the counting rule),
Khons in middlegame - quite a lot of tactical play with heavily utilised khons.
Mating with knight and two mets - another example of ending (and interesting game before).
Nice rook mate - black nicely exploits the weak rank.
Checkmating with knon and mets made easy - yet another example how to efficienty deliver checkmate.
5. Additional info
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makruk (wikipiedia article including counting rule)
http://www.xs4all.nl/~timkr/chess/makruk.htm (Tim Krabbe article - memories from travel to Cambodia and games played there, problems)
http://www.chessvariants.org/oriental.dir/thai.html (chessvariants article)
Game Page Help
The Action Bar
The Action Bar is the most important part of the game screen, this is where you interact with the game by entering moves, conditional moves, comments, draw offers, resignations, and much more (if you are not viewing one of your own games, the Action Bar is not shown). The Action Bar is in four parts, from left to right:
- The Move Input Box: where your move or conditional move is shown; it is possible to type into this box, but not recommended, you can enter your move by dragging and dropping the pieces on the board.
- The Action Selection Dropdown: this is where you select the action you want to do, for example, move, enter a comment, accept a draw offer, claim a draw, etc. Only the actions which are relevant to the current game are shown.
- The Continue Button: this button sends your action back to our server; sometimes you might see a pop-up text box before the action is sent, this is so that you can write a message to your opponent. You can set your preferences so that this box is always shown to confirm you move (under the "Chess Board" tab "Confirm moves before committing), some people find this helpful as a "blunder check".
- The Next Game button: clicking the button will take you to the next game for which it is your move.
The Game Information Panel
Under the Action Bar, you should find the Game Information Panel. This gives you more information about the game; because there is too much information to see on one screen here, it is arranged into "tab"; you can move between the various screens by clicking the buttons, from left to right:
- Game Overview: this tab shows the full history of the game, including comments (you cannot read the comments from another player's game, unless the game is marked as "public"), leave taken, etc. You can click the moves to see the position on the chess board.
- Hide Comments: this tab shows the moves of the game only, without the distraction of the comments shown on the game overview tab.
- Material Balance: this tab shows the captured pieces in the game. If you are playing CrazyHouse chess, or a similar game, you can drag pieces from here to the board to make a "drop".
- Tags: You can "tag" games, this makes it easier to come back to games, you can find the games you have tagged from the game database screen.
- Variant Information: this tab is available for some chess variants, it will show you a description of the variant.
- Opening Information: In standard chess games, this tab will show you information about the chess opening you have been playing, taken from the Game Explorer.
- Analysis Board: Opening this tab will overlay an "analysis board" on the main chess board; you can move the pieces around freely on this board to try out various ideas in the game.
- Engine Analysis: This tab allows you to analyse the game using a chess engine; because the use of engines is not allowed on SchemingMind, this tab is not available for ongoing games.
- Help: If you are reading this, you have already figured out what the help button does!
The Chess Board
The chess board shows the current position in your game; if it is your move, or if you can enter a conditional move, you can drag and drop the pieces on the chess board.
If you wish to castle, simply drag your king over the rook on the side you wish to castle on. When you promote a pawn, you will see a pop-up prompting you to select the promoted piece.
We have a number of different designs for chess boards and pieces, you can select the one you prefer from your personal preferences.
Under the chess board is a navigation toolbar (this toolbar looks slightly different if you are looking at the analysis board).
From left to right:
- Download Game: This button will allow you to download the game in PGN format.
- Move to the Start: This button will show the start position of the game.
- Previous Move: This button will move position shown on the board back one move.
- Next Move: This button will show the next position on the board.
- Last Move: This button will show the current position on the board.
- Flip: This button will show the board from the other player's perspective (by default you see games from White's perspective unless you are Black; you can select an option to always show the board from White's perspective in your personal preferences).
- Animate: If you are not looking at the last move in the game, this button will animate the game from the shown position to the last move.
- Stop Animation: This button will stop the animation.
- Analysis Board: This button will show the Analysis Board (see above).
View this article in the Knowledge Base.