Been wondering if the circular chess painted table at Read, Write & Brew is there for aesthetics or playing? Well, yes. Yes it is.
Enjoy your next coffee and muffin on a one of a kind table top, or bring in your chess pieces (or borrow ours) and introduce yourselves to a whole new way of playing chess - or a whole 'ancient' way of playing chess... whichever way you like to look at it.
Read on for the background and history of Circular Chess, and the modern day rules to the game.
Circular chess is a chess variant played using the standard set of pieces on a circular
board consisting of four rings, each of sixteen squares. This is
topologically equivalent to playing on the surface of a cylinder.
Documents in the British Library and elsewhere suggest that circular chess was played in Persia as early as the 10th century AD, and further references are found in India, Persia, and, later, Europe. Historical rules are in sources that are little-known in the West, such as Muhammad ibn Mahmud Amuli's
'Treasury of the Sciences', so when, in 1983, Lincoln historian David
Reynolds came across a reference to the game being played in the Middle Ages and set about attempting to revive interest in it, he chose to draw up a new set of rules, based around those of orthodox chess. Since that time, the older rules of circular chess have become far better known.
Historical circular chess
One set of rules for medieval circular chess is from the Persian author Amuli (1325). In this version, called shatranj al-muddawara (circular chess) or shatranj al-Rûmîya
(Roman or Byzantine chess), the game uses a board with four concentric
rings, each split into 16 spaces, for a total of 64 spaces. The game
uses the same pieces as shatranj.
The king and the counselor on the inner ring, next to each other. The
next ring has the bishops, the next ring has the knights, and the last
ring has the rooks. A single row of 4 pawns flanks each side of the
central pieces. The king of one side "faces" the counselor of the other
(a shorter path is between the king of one side and the counselor of the
other than between the kings of the two sides). Movement is the same as
shatranj, except that, if two pawns from the same side, going in
opposite directions, end up being blocked by each other, the opponent
may remove both pieces, which does not use the opponent's turn. As there
is no back row, there is no promotion. A stalemate is a victory for the
stalemating player. A bare king is a loss for the player who only has
the king left unless, in the next turn, the player can also impose a
bare king, at which point the game is a draw.
If you're not into learning new games (with all the new rules, and learning processes, and rule referencing involved) and instead like to jump straight into a good old tried and tested game, we also have a Backgammon table all painted up and ready for you to enjoy too. Bring a friend, bring your lucky pieces, and make an afternoon of it.
Opened October 16th 2009. Closed June 29th 2012. Re-opening late July under new owners, as 'Bean Fosters'. Thank you to all our customers who helped make Read, Write & Brew a great place to hang... (you know who you are!).