Crazy Elephant


Crazy Elephant is a variant of Shatranj where players can to drop captured pieces as in CrazyHouse. This variant was originally suggested by Thomas Meehan (Orangeaurochs). Shatranj is the medieval predecessor to modern chess.

1. Pieces and Setup

Like Shatranj, Crazy Elephant is played with a slightly different set of pieces to standard chess, in particular with Alfils (elephants) replacing Bishops and Firzans replacing Queens.


Shatranj initial position (rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR)

Shatranj initial position
Shah (king) moves as in standard chess, except there is no castling
Rukh (chariot, rook) moves as in standard chess
Faras (horse, knight) moves as in standard chess
Baidaq (soldier, pawn) moves as in standard chess, except there is no initial two-step and it always promotes to Firzan
Firzan (vizier, queen) moves to the first diagonal square
Alfil (elephant, bishop) leaps to the second diagonal square, can jump over some other piece (like knight).

The initial setup of the board is identical to standard chess, with the Alfils and Firzans taking the same places as their standard chess equivalents.


2. Rules

The rules of Crazy Elephant are similar to Standard Chess, with the following exceptions:

(rules derived from Shatranj)

  • There is no initial two-step Pawn move
  • There is no en passant capture option
  • There is no castling option
  • Pawns arriving at the last rank always promote to Firzans
  • Stalemate counts as a win
  • Bare King counts as a win, provided that your King cannot be bared on the very next move
  • Two bare Kings count as a draw

(rules derived from CrazyHouse)

  • Pieces you capture become yours to use as you wish on a future turn (and vice versa for your opponent). You can "drop" them anywhere on the board including checking the King. Pawns cannot be dropped on the 1st or 8th rank, and if a promoted pawn is captured, it reverts back to a Pawn.

You can view captured material via the "Material" tab. Here you can click on any piece of your opponent's colour and then click on the square you wish to place it on.

Important note:

in the current implementation bare king rules inherited from Shatranj apply only to the pieces present on the board (this is the only way bare king is at all possible in CrazyElephant, after all)


3. Strategy and Tactics

Just like in CrazyHouse, captured pieces are as important for the evaluation of the position as those present on the board. It is a good habit to think with Material tab active.

The game is far more aggressive and tactical than Shatranj, but lack of queens makes checkmating more difficult comparing to CrazyHouse. Still, the general strategy is closer to that of CrazyHouse.

Alfils (elephants) can be very strong when dropped (just like knights in CrazyHouse). Don't sacrifice them too easily. And look for opportunities of crushing attack with alfil and faras drops.

Don't weaken your 2nd rank too much. Enemy pawns and pieces can be dropped on emptied squares. And if you vacate g7 (or b7) before moving your knight, you may offer your rook for free


4. Example Games

Crazy Elephant Test Tournament

Checkmating with knight and alfil drops (see also the white's 9th move for example exploitation of weakened second rank)

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