Al-Adli - Aliyat

by NK
(India)

Al-Adli - Earliest Shantranj Champion

Al-Adli - Earliest Shantranj Champion

Al-Adli, born in 800 AD, was an Arab best known as the greatest Shatranj player of all times. Little is known about the person, Al-Adli but his legend as the supreme Aliyat – the master chess player, survives till today. Al-Adli is the author of the famous book on Shatranj Kitab Ash-Shatranj which he wrote when he was in his forties. The Kitab Ash Shatranj or the Book of Chess is one of the earliest scientific books on Shatranj and in the game of chess itself.

However, it is sad that the book in itself has been lost. However, many of the strategies, problems and games have survived over the years. The book was also later on followed by other works on Shatranj by various great Shatranj players such as Ar-Razi’s Latif Fi’sh-Shatranj, As-Suli’s Kitab Ash-Shatranj (2 volumes), Al-Laljlaj’s Mansubat Ash-Shatranj and B. Aliqlidisi’s Kitab Majmu’Fi Mansubat Ash-Shatranj.

Al-Adli was the strongest Shatranj player and the only Aliyat player (chess player of the highest class) during the reign of Caliph Al-Wathiq, son of the Byzantine concubine Qaratis, who ruled between 842-847 AD. After the death of Al-Wathiq, Al-Adli continued playing in the reign of the next Caliph, Al-Mutawakkil. His victories continued till 847 AD when he was defeated by another great Shatranj player- Ar-Razi, the author of Latif Fi-sh Shatranj.

Al-Adli has provided several valuable contributions to the game of Shatranj and to the game of modern chess. He was the earliest to use co-ordinates to record moves and to indicate positions in Shatranj which are still used today. He was also the earliest to compile Mansubat- or chess problems. He classified chess players according to their skill into five different categories. He also categorized the openings into various positions or Tabiyat. His book contained various diagrams depicting various moves and positions. He is also credited with using of a chess board as a counting frame for calculation.

Various problems and positions depicted by al-Adli have tremendous significance even today. Hats off to this one of the greatest chess player of all times for his invaluable contribution to the game of modern chess.

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