Chess is one of the oldest games in the world. From time immemorial, chess was admired in Belarus too: it was considered a game of kings and aristocrats. In chess games, noble people confirmed their dignity, testing mental strength and attentiveness.
Chess originated in ancient India somewhere in the 5th-6th centuries AD. The Arabs borrowed the game from there. Due to them, around the 8th-9th centuries, chess came to Europe in various ways. Medieval Europeans liked the game so much that in the 11th century chess was considered one of the most widespread entertainments of the nobility and was even included in the program of knightly education!
At the same time, our ancestors were also fond of chess. It has been archaeologically confirmed that the games were held among the princes of the Polack and Turaŭ principalities. Chess pieces of this time were found literally in every city of Belarus. And the largest number of discovered pieces from Eastern Europe was found just in Belarus.
The oldest chess piece in Eastern Europe was found at the site of ancient Minsk.
The tradition of moving pieces on squares, simulating the struggle for power, was continued during the time of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the Middle Ages, the game was in its prime: Vitaut's circle was fond of chess, Barbara Radzivil played chess, Lieŭ Sapieha had his own set of pieces.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Belarusians did not lose interest in chess, on the contrary – the game became really fashionable, and Belarus began to be considered a chess country. The prevalence of chess in a country can be a sign of the intellectual level of the nation.
A classic game with a new meaning
Unfortunately, not a single set of that magnates’ chess has survived to this day, but correspondence and archaeological finds have allowed us to recreate this game...
In the late 1990s, Aliaksandr Astroŭski, a professor at the Hrodna Medical University, invented chess on the basis of classical one, with a significant deepening of the plot. In 2010 Mikalaj Tamaševič finalized the rules of the game, added political and cultural features from the history of Belarus and Eastern Europe, revived the old names of the pieces.
Features. The game has a completely different goal compared to "classical" chess - not to kill the king, but to gain power: to ascend the Throne and hold out for one move without announcing a Rokash. The details have also changed:
The Belarusian and Litvin board is one row larger than the usual one, its size is 81 squares (9 x 9);
A new piece has been added to the game - the Kniažyč, the heir to the Kniaź;
If the Kniaź leaves the field, the Kniažyč may take his place. For this, a separate coronation is carried out;
When a Kniaź or a Kniažyč ascends the Throne, he can be declared a Rokash. Rokash is announced - the piece must leave the Throne or hide behind another piece;
Kniaź. In classical chess – the king.
According to tradition, from the very beginning, he examines the field of action from the center of the first row from the edge. Confidently approaches power.
Place on the field: E1 - white; E9 - black;
Moves in any direction (including diagonally) one square;
Kniažyč. A new piece on the field.
Stands to the left of the Kniaź. He has less power for that, but more freedom of self-determination, as it should be. He is cunning, intriguing, and at the same time fiercely defending his ruler - perhaps the most multifaceted person in the game.
Place on the field: D1 - white; F9 - black;
Moves in any direction (including diagonally) one or two squares;
Can occupy the Throne and step over it.
Hietman. In classical chess – the queen.
Hietman stands on the right of the Kniaź. On the field he feels confident and free, he can lead an army from every point specified by you (or the Kniažyč).
Place on the field: F1 - white; D9 - black;
Moves in any direction (including diagonally) and at any distance.
Harmata. In classical chess – an elephant, an officer, or a bishop.
On the eve of the battle, the Harmata is located to the right of the left Laddzia or Hietman. With strong and accurate shots, it confidently removes the enemy from the Throne, shaking the air with powder explosions.
Place on the field: B1, G1 - white; C9, H9 - black;
Moves diagonally in any direction at any distance.
Vieršnik. In classical chess – the knight.
Vieršnik thunders silver armor to the left of the Kniažyč or the right Laddzia. Terrifies the advancing enemy army. The pride and wings of the principality.
Place on the field: C1, H1 - white; B9, G9 - black;
Moves two squares in any direction: up, down, left, or right, then one square perpendicular to the original line of movement.
Laddzia / Vieža. In classical chess – the rook.
Laddzia is waiting in the wings at the port - one of the corners of the board. Landlocked Laddzia is rebuilt into a defensive Vieža. Helps the Kniaź during castling.
Place on the field: A1, I1 - white; A9, I9 - black;
Moves straight in any direction at any distance.
Ratnik. In classical chess – a pawn.
Stands in an armed formation in front of other fighters. Cautiously but persistently advances in a straight line.
Place on the field: row No. 2 - white, No. 8 - black;
Moves one square forward. Can "jump" over two squares, if he has not yet moved. Attacks one square diagonally;
Reaching the last square vertically can be transformed into any piece that is not on the field.
When Ratnik has reached the last square, and all the other pieces are still on the field, it can make a transformation later - when some pieces leave the army. The move of his reincarnation should be considered a separate move.
The right to occupy the Throne is the right of Kniaź or Kniažyč. The solemn ascent is accompanied by a loud shout - "Throne!". If the Throne is a battered field (a field square where the opponent's figure can move to attacking a figure from your army), you can't pounce on it.
Only Kniažyč can step over the Throne, defending his rights to power. The other figures have no right to "jump" over the Throne.
Rokash. In the history of Belarus - an official revolt against the king, dissatisfaction with the one who is on the Throne. In Belarusian chess, the attack on the occupied Throne is also called "Rokash". After the proclamation of the Rokash, the piece on the Throne must resign. Any other figure can protect it from attack.
Victory. Victory is proclaimed by shouting "The Throne is mine!" and corresponds to at least one of the following points:
Kniaź or Kniažyč confidently held the Throne for one move, the shocked opponent did not dare to announce Rokash;