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Why do pieces move the way they do? Was there any reason behind the decision in the early history of chess?

This Quora post for example mentions (no citations):

Queen can give directions. And she can do, what a King cannot. This is represented by her unlimited range in any direction.

However, in an old form of chess, Shatranj, the queen (fers) could only move one square diagonally, therefore the answer is not accurate.

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  • There is a speculation the eldest movements are fitting together mathematically: each piece moved as an (a,b)-knight, where 22=alfil(pre-bishop), 21=knight, 20=dabbaba(pre-rook),11=fers(pre-queen),10=wesir(pre-king). Get me a time machine and I convert to answer :-) Dec 22, 2021 at 16:05
  • The movements of pieces are based on Levels.. Like Pawns can move 0 steps as they are 0 Level.. Bishop (Elephant Unit) and Knight are 1st Level and1.5 levels. Rook or Chariot Unit has 2 Level. Army General (Fictional Queen) is at 2.5 level..
    – ShadYantra
    Jan 6 at 17:11

2 Answers 2

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  • The king shouldn't rush into battles, but instead, he should go very slowly to beat his enemies.
  • The queen (fers) should guard the king and stay in his side. [1]
  • The bishop (fils) are the elephants the king used to bring. They were moved diagonally to wound the ranks of their enemies. Because no one dared to face them, the fils could leap over intermediate pieces. [2]
  • Good captains lead the ranks by turning horses to the right and left to guard their men and conquer the enemies.
  • The rooks (the ranks of the soldiers) go in whichever direction they like and as far as they think is best to conquer their enemies.
  • The pawns (the army soldiers) can't move too far because they carry their weapons. Some, however, can until they capture because afterward, they cannot do it. And this is like when ordinary people steal some things, that they carry them on their backs.
    The soldiers cannot wound an enemy in front of them, so instead, they wound (capture) the ones located diagonally that least expect it.

[1] See Wikipedia on the original movement of the queen.
[2] See Wikipedia on the original movement of the bishop.

Source: this translated version of Libro de los Juegos ("Book of Games"), pages 8-9.

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    Aside from your remark that the king should be a slow mover, I don't see how this answers the question.
    – Rosie F
    Dec 30, 2021 at 12:12
  • Wikipedia are not correct sources.. All movements are based on fictional game called Chaturanga which was played by Arabs
    – ShadYantra
    Jan 6 at 17:06
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In Shad Yantra, which later became Chess. Rules were purely based on Categories.

There are

Royals: Raaja means King and Deputy of King called Mantri Immortal: Guru or Peace Ambassador. Spies: Chaarak. Army Commandar: General or Queen. 3 level of Officers. Pawns as common solidiers..

Pawns are non autononous and resource. They are also on 0 level, hence pawns cannot move on their own. They can move only as per the neighbouring Senior Rank Officer.

All Officers and King are autonomous units Hence they can move 1 step only. Hence, when Officers are in touch with Army General, or Royal King or Royal Mantri (Deputy of King) these officers can move additional steps as per their level. This is called elevated move.

Bishop or Elephant Unit are on 1st level. So bishop gets 1 extra step (2 in total) in any direction when Elevated.

Knight is on 1.50 level. So Knight gets 1.5 extra step (2.5) in total when elevated.

Rook is on 2.00 level. So elevated Rook gets extra 2 steps (3 in total) l.

Army General or Queen is on 2.5 level. Elevated Army General gets extra 2.5 steps. (3.5) steps in total.

King and Mantri are on 3.5th level. Elevated King can move 4.5 in total.

King is the most powerfull of all pieces, but in modern chess King moves 1 step only.

Default moves of all units is 1 except pawns...

Sources: Agasthya samhita Kautilya Arthshastra

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