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Thai Makruk


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#1 MengTzu

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 01:29 AM

Hey all,

Lately I have fallen in love with game of Makruk. For those who don't know, Makruk is the Thai variant of Chess. Here's a brief overview of the game:

The game is played on a board consisting of 8x8 squares, with the pieces placed in the squares. The purpose is to checkmate your opponent's khun (the equivalent of the king in Western Chess). Stalemate is a draw.

Names of the pieces: Khun ("noble;" equivalent of the king), Met (takes the place of the queen), Khon (takes the place of the bishop), Ma (equivalent of the knight), Rua ("boat;" equivalent of the rook), and Bia (equivalent of the pawn).

The equivalents of the king, knight, rook, and pawn are basically exactly the same as they are in Western Chess, except that pawns do not have a 2-step first move, and because of that, there is no en passant. The pawns begin on the third row instead of the second as in Western Chess. The king always stands on the left (so the two kings do not face each other). There is no castling.

The two unique pieces are met and khon. Met takes the place of the queen in Western Chess, and moves one space diagonally (similar to the shi in Chinese Xiangqi). Khon takes the place of of the bishop, and moves one space diagonally as well as one space vertically forward (just like the silver general/gin in Japanese Shogi).

Promotion: The pawns promote once they reach the opponent's third row, which is the sixth row from the player's perspective, instead of the last row as in Western Chess. Once promoted, a pawn becomes a Biagai, which moves one space diagonally, just like the piece Met.

There are some rules that concern draw games (for example, in the event that one side's king becomes a bare king, his opponent must checkmate him in a number of moves; the number of moves is determined by what pieces the winning player has left.) These rules are complicating and therefore unfitting for this introduction, which is mean to be a brief overview.

So is there any Makruk player? I'm especially interested in talking to Thais who know the game. If anyone is interested in playing it or learning how to player it, please let me know. =)

Edited by MengTzu, 17 February 2009 - 01:32 AM.


#2 Non-Han Nan Ban

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 08:47 PM

Hmm. I've never heard of how the Thai variant was played, but as you've demonstrated, it has its unique differences from Western chess. Would you say that it is more enjoyable to play than Western Chess?

Eric
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#3 MengTzu

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 12:56 AM

Hmm. I've never heard of how the Thai variant was played, but as you've demonstrated, it has its unique differences from Western chess. Would you say that it is more enjoyable to play than Western Chess?

Eric


It's hard to say which is more enjoyable. I think Western Chess is more intense, while Thai Makruk is more nuanced. Perhaps it is because I'm more experienced with Western Chess, but it seems that often times in Thai Makruk, it is more difficult to foresee the effects of a particular move; the effects of a move in Western Chess are usually more immediate. Since the Western Chess pieces tend to be more powerful, it is easier to escape from risky positions that your pieces fall into due to your mistakes (again, this might be because I'm more experienced with Western Chess.)

Thai Makruk is an example of how having weaker pieces doesn't necessarily make a game less exciting. The weaker some pieces are, the stronger some other pieces become by comparison. Because of the absence of the powerful queen and bishops, the bia (equivalent of a pawn) is particularly more powerful, relatively speaking. It is far more difficult to break through a wall of bia's in Thai Makruk than a wall of pawns in Western Chess.

Another important difference is the role of the king (known in Thai Makruk as "khun," which means "a noble"). Due to the lack of a queen and bishops, the Makruk king has a more important role in battle, sometimes even fighting in the front line.

Some Western Chess players might find some aspects of Thai Makruk less appealing, however. The lack of some powerful pieces makes Makruk feel a bit slower than Western Chess. It also means that chasing the opponent's king in the end game might become rather drawn out (note that there are particular rules of drawing a game that require the winning player to checkmate the opponent's king within a certain number of moves, perhaps precisely because the likelihood that the end game can become too long.)

Anyway, you should just try playing this, then you'll see what I'm talking about. I think it's a great experience for any chess variant enthusiast. It's also great for anyone who has so far exclusively played one or two types of chess variants (I suppose many here are players of Western Chess and Chinese Xiangqi).

Edited by MengTzu, 18 February 2009 - 12:57 AM.





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