Starting the Game
what’s unique about the Burmese chess tradition. First,
the pawns (nè) are set up well advanced on the board. As
shown in the diagram, each player starts with pawns at his left
on the 3rd row, and pawns at his right on the 4th row. The players
then proceed to set up the rest of the pieces in their own chosen
arrangement, following a few guidelines.
player playing Red first sets up all of his pieces; the player
playing black (or green) then sets up all of his pieces.
2) The back row (first rank) on each side of the board is reserved
for the rooks (yahhta). They are placed anywhere on that
3) The remaining pieces are set up wherever the player wishes,
on the second and third rows, behind the row of pawns (nè).
These pieces (min-gyi, myin, sit-ke and sin)
may not be placed on the first row.
4) The player with the black (or green) pieces, who begins after
the red pieces are already set up, may not place a rook (yahhta)
in a direct line with the opponent’s king (min-gyi)
unless there is at least one piece, other than a pawn (nè),
standing somewhere in the line between the rook and king. The
piece between the two may be of either color. This simply reduces
the second player’s advantage in setting up an immediate
attack once he sees how his opponent’s pieces have been
5) After all of the black (or green) pieces have been set up,
red makes the first move and the players alternate moving one
piece at each turn through the rest of the game.
Notice the long diagonals
creating a large “X” across the playing surface. These
lines mark the promotion squares. When a pawn (nè)
moves onto one of these lines, on his opponent’s side
of the chessboard, the pawn may be promoted to a queen (sit-ke),
only if the queen has been captured and is out of play. If a player
has a pawn standing on one of these promotion squares , not yet
promoted, he may choose to promote the pawn at any time, as long
as the pawn is on the promotion square and the queen is available,
off of the board. Choosing to promote the pawn in this way constitutes
a move, and the player does not move any piece on the board until
his next turn.
Like other forms of
chess, the object of this game is to entrap the enemy king (min-gyi)
so that he is threatened and can not avoid capture. If at
any time a king is threatened with capture, he is said to be in
check and must move so that he is no longer threatened. If no
possible move brings him out of check, he is in checkmate and
has lost the game.
In this game, stalemate is not allowed. It is not permitted to
trap the king, leaving him no legal move, while he is not actually
being threatened with capture. The attacking player must make
some other move, not creating a stalemate.
If it becomes apparent that neither player has enough force of
pieces to create a checkmate, the game is drawn, without a winner.
The game of sittuyin
has existed for over a millennium without a unified body of rules
in all regions. The rules given here are based on the Burmese
Chess Federation rules established after World War II, but they
are by no means universal for this game. If you come upon this
game in other contexts, among other players, ask about the exact
rules of piece deployment, pawn promotion and endgames. There
may be interesting differences.
on this web page
The top illustration
is from the title page of the 1924 Burmese publication Min-ma
Sit Bayin Lan-nyunt Sa-ok Gyi. All other photos and diagrams
are produced by AncintChess.com.