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Chadaranga Pikkalu
R ju (king)
Mantri (minister or queen)
Enugu (elephant or rook)
aka amu (chariot or bishop)
Gurramu (horse or knight)
Ban u (foot-soldier or pawn)

Chadarangam () is an Andhra or Telugu version of Indian chess, Chaturanga. It became very famous among kings and courtesans. Previously chariots (Ratha) were used in warfare, but in medieval times chariots were replaced by camels (O ra). So, the bishop in olden days was called Ratha / aka a and in medieval ages was called O ra.


Origin of the Word

This name may be derived from the Sanskrit word Chaturanga or Persian word Chatrang. The Sanskrit word Chaturanga has a direct meaning "having four limbs". But in a military context it has meaning "an entire army (comprising elephants, chariots, cavalry, and infantry)".

Names of Pieces

Pieces will be of two colours: black (Nalla) and white (Tella). In Telugu, pieces are called pikka (plural – pikkalu). Each side has mainly six types of pieces, namely:

  • R ju (R ja) / king
  • Mantri (Mantri) / queen
  • aka am (Ratha) / bishop
  • Gurram (A va) / knight
  • Enugu (Gaja) / rook
  • Ban u (Sainika) / pawn


Their movements are designed accordingly in the Chadarangam as:

  • R ju moves orthogonally or diagonally only one square at a time.
  • Mantri moves orthogonally or diagonally, any number of squares.
  • aka amu moves diagonally any number of squares and always stays on one of the two chequered colours.
  • Gurramu normal "L" shaped jumping move (two spaces in one direction and one space orthogonally to it). It is the only piece that can jump over other pieces.
  • Enugu moves orthogonally to the players (forward, backward, left or right) any number of squares.
  • Ban u (Bhatudu) moves one space straight forward (away from the player). On its first move it can optionally move two spaces forward. If there is an enemy piece diagonally (either left or right) one space in front of the pawn, the pawn may move diagonally to capture that piece.


  • In Telugu, a move is called Ettu. (Here "t" is pronounced as "t" in Telugu.)
  • Checkmate is called aka u.
  • Stalemate is called ata u.
  • Check is called R ju.
  • Square is called Ga i.
  • Piece is called Pikka.
  • White is called Tella.
  • Black is called Nalla.

Some Important Rules

  • Always the white king (Tella R ju) should be on a black square (Nalla Ga i) and the black king (Nalla R ju) should be on a white square (Tella Ga i).
  • Though defeating the opponent is main aim, honouring the opponent's king is also very important. I.e., the game becomes very complex, if all the king's premier army is killed (the four limbs, Chatur+Anga) without using good strategy.
  • Either checkmate or stalemate (R ja digbhandanam) is considered a win. In other cases, it is considered as a draw.

Significance of these pieces

It really stuns us the way the position and movements of pieces (Anga) were, as they correctly suit the reality of Indian warfare situations.

  • R ju (king) is the most powerful, but often won't come into action unless required. The knight-move (Gurrapu Ettu) of a king (R ja) resembles the escape of a king for a safer location at the most crucial time ( paddharma k la) in warfare.
  • Mantri (queen) is the next most powerful person in an Indian empire/kingdom. Though the king only passes the decrees, actually it is the Prime Minister who actually decides all kinds of acts and strategies that are required for the welfare of the king/kingdom. (In Sanskrit, Mantri means Prime Minister.)
  • aka amu (bishop) is known for their famous zig-zag movements while attacking. Often the opponent doesn't take into consideration the presence of chariots which in turn give stunning, often devastating blows in Indian warfare. (Actually aka a is a Sanskrit word meaning chariot.)
  • Gurramu (knight) is known for its irregular jumping movements which often keeps the opponent in a dilemma for a moment. Interestingly, even in the game it is the Gurramu (knight) that has a greater number of moves than any other piece. (In Telugu, Gurramu means horse.)
  • Enugu (rook) is known for straightforward devastating attacks. Often the opponent knows its advance but cannot escape. In olden days Enugu (rook) played a very important role in scattering the army of an enemy, thereby making them deviate from their strategic movements. (In Telugu, Enugu means elephant.)
  • Ban u (pawn) (also known as Bha u u) is a piece with lowest significance though larger in number than any other piece. But when a Ban u reaches the other end, then the honour of that position, except that of R ju (king), is given in traditional Indian chess. Surprisingly, it is similar to the honouring of a soldier for having fought exceptionally well in a war, by a king.

See also

  • Origins of chess
  • Indian chess
  • Chaturaji, four-handed version of Chaturanga


Caturanga Darpanamu (1910) - Esvarappa Pantulu, Buddiraju


Source: Wikipedia | The above article is available under the GNU FDL. | Edit this article

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