Makruk: 8 cool trivia about the Thai Chess

Makruk is the traditional variant of Chess in Thailand.

As the Former World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik said, “Makruk Thai is more strategic than International Chess. You have to plan your operations with total care since Makruk Thai can be compared to an anticipated endgame of International Chess”.

Makruk, commonly known as the Thai Chess, is a board game being played across several parts of Thailand. The game is thought to be originated from the centuries-old Indian game of ‘Chaturanga’. Also, some believe that the Thai Chess actually came from the Cambodian Chess which is known as ‘OK’ in the Khmer language. Still, Makruk involves a number of rules that are different from all the other variants of chess. To play the game, you need to use creativity, logic and most importantly, strategy. It is played on an 8*8 game board between two players. Both the players move their chessmen to checkmate the King (known as ‘Khun’) of the opponent. Here, we have gathered some interesting Makruk trivia that you probably did not know about.

The word ‘ruk’ of Makruk comes from the word ‘rukh’ which means ‘chariot’ in the Persian language.

In 14th century, the Persian traders visited the Ayutthaya kingdom to begin a trading relationship with the Thais. It led to a cultural exchange between the two communities during that time. Therefore, some also believe that the game of Makruk was probably originated from the Persian game of Shatranj.

A National Makruk Tournament is held each year in Thailand. Players from various parts of the country take part in the competition.

In Makruk, the Bishop (known as Khon) can move one space at a time, either in the straight or the diagonal (both forward and backward) direction. This is similar to the moves of the silver general in the Japanese Chess Shogi. On the other hand, the Queen (known as Met or Seed) moves one space at a time, only in the diagonal direction, resembling to the moves of ferz in Shatranj.

The King (known as Khun) can move one space at a time, in any direction.

Similar to the western variants of Chess, the Knight (called Ma) in Makruk can jump over all the other pieces on its way. It can move two spaces at a single time, be it in forward, backward, right or left direction.

The Rook (called Rua) and Pawn (called Bia) also move the same way as the rook and pawn do in the Western Chess.

Makruk is considered as a national treasure in the Thai culture. In Thailand, people of all age groups play this game at literally everywhere including the streets, markets and parks.

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