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  1. #1
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    Anyone play Makruk?

    It is common to see groups of men playing ‘Makruk” or Thai chess on any given day in our village. This game is much like the chess wars I grew up playing. Most of the pieces move in the same way but different rules apply. For example each side will begin to count their moves when their pawns are gone. If there is no winner after reaching 64 moves, a draw is declared and the game begins again. I think. I don’t understand the rules but it seems the Thai men do, as they talk loud and long about them.
    Thai chess originated in India over 1000 years ago. The king, queen and bishop are about the same shape, but a different size. Even the rook is similar, but fatter. Thais know that castles don’t move in a battle. But it can with a boat.
    The older traditional Thai chess sets used cowry shells as pawns. When the pawns were promoted, they were flipped over to show their lighter sides.
    Thai Chess? Good luck!





    Chess Game in Thailand
    Thai men playing chess outside the local barber.





    Look for my farm truck/side car. Had a wreck the first time I took it out. Now, it is one of the best tools I have ever owned.





    Many Thais will have callouses on their ankle bones from sitting for long periods in this position. For example, even if they have dining tables at home, many Thais will sit on the floor to eat.





    If a person came up to me and said “I can see your soul”. That person would probably be a nut. I am not a nut. Because, I could say “I see the soles of two people”.





    In the background there is a cement block wall enclosing the living room of the house next to the barber shop The wall was built 2-3 years ago. The house has been around for donkey years. Each generation inherits the property and usually does an upgrade.





    Many Thais will wear a yellow ribbon signifying respect towards the Thai Royal family.





    And now I can truthfully say that “I have seen the soles of four people”. And so can you…

    https://www.thailanddiscovery.info/chess-game-in-thailand-is-called-makruk-thai-chess/

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chittychangchang View Post
    Most of the pieces move in the same way
    Nope. Only the rook, really.
    Last year I played a few games with my neighbour, who plays every day online so he's quite good. One draw two losses to me, though I had him surprised a few times but his experience got him out of it.
    When he asked if I wanted to play, I did a crash course on the rules online (easy to find). One interesting comment when I was searching was from a Russian Grand Master chess player who says the game is like going straight into the end-game. Another comment was that, because of the rules, most often games end in a draw.
    I agree that it is like going straight into end-game; there's not much chance to finesse into a position, simply because the bot, or pawns are already advanced one rank.

  3. #3
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    Makruk: Thai Chess

    This is the variant of chess which is most played in Thailand, where it has a large number of players (Pritchard mentions an estimate of two million Thais who at least know the rules of the game, and there are other mentions of millions of players of this game, all from Thailand.)
    Rules

    The game is played on an uncheckered board of 8 by 8 squares. The pieces have large similarities to those of the (for us) orthodox chess game, and to make it from the description easy to play with chess game with a normal set of pieces, I will describe pieces with names of their `usual' chess equivalent.
    Opening setup

    The opening setup is very similar to that of orthodox chess, with the following differences: the positions of white king and queen are reversed, and all pawns are on the third and sixth row. So, the setup is as follows:
    White:
    King d1; Queen e1; Rook a1, h1; Knight b1, g1; Bishop c1, f1; Pawn a3, b3, c3, d3, e3, f3, g3, h3.

    Black:
    King d8; Queen e8; Rook a8, h8; Knight b8, g8; Bishop c8, f8; Pawn a6, b6, c6, d6, e6, f6, g6, h6.

    Moves

    The king, rook, and knight move as in orthodox chess, except that castling does not exist in this game.
    The queen moves one square diagonally.
    The bishop moves one square straight forward or one square diagonally.
    The pawn moves as a normal pawn, but may not make a double step on its first move. When it reaches the sixth row, it promotes to a (Makruk) queen.
    Other rules

    Object of the game is to mate the opponents king. Stalemate is a draw. Also, when a player has no rook, bishop, or knight anymore, the other player must mate him within a certain number of moves, depending on how many `big' pieces the player has, otherwise the game is declared a draw. The precise numbers are omitted here (also, my sources on this seem to contradict - is there a native player of this game who can provide full information on this topic?).
    Additional information

    The original names for the pieces are:

    • King: Khun - leader. The Khun was the lowest rank of conferred nobility in the Siamese court system (as opposed to inherited nobility).
    • Queen: Met - Pit or fruitstone. This is the kerner of a fruit, like a cherry.
    • Bishop: Khon or Thon - Mask. The same word means a kind of classical Thai royal drama, using such masks.
    • Knight: Ma - horse
    • Rook: Rua - boat
    • Pawn: Bia - cowry shell. Indeed cowry shells were formerly used for pawns in Thai sets, as well as a unit of very small money. You can take this as: pawns equal small change.

    In some cases, for pawns cowry shells are used, who are turned over upon promotion. Similarities of this game, both with Chaturanga or Shatranj, and Shogi are remarkable. Last century, special first moves for king and queen were allowed (the king could make a knight move his first move, and the queen could move two squares diagonally on her first move.) This practice seems to be no longer in use currently. For additional information, reader can e.g., consult The Encyclopedia of Chess Variantswhich has two pages on this game, including sample games and Thai notation.
    A photo of a Matruk tournament


  4. #4
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    I see it played in the local market town but not in the village. The wife keeps egging me on to play, knowing I am a strong chess player, but I don't really know the strategies.

    I have seen the rules on the wiki page but need to find some basic opening strategies. Anyone know any good sites? I'll have a trawl round the web and report back if I find anything interesting....

    -----
    Edit: Just downloaded an Xboard version of the game. The game is slow enough to fill a hot afternoon with a few jugs of cool beer!
    Last edited by Troy; 17-11-2017 at 02:27 AM.

  5. #5
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    So far I have found the game pretty difficult in terms of strategy. The rules are easy enough but it is quite a challenge for me at the moment. The start is slow and the khon movement can easily catch out a chess player. It is good practice for end games involving knights though as they are very strong throughout in makruk. Any positional errors early in the game can be disastrous once the pieces engage. It is defintely a game to give a lot of respect.

  6. #6
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    ^ Yes. As I said, a Russian grandmaster said it is hard because it is like starting at the endgame.

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