On Monday 2nd May, we demonstrated the ancient precursor to Chess, the Arabic game of Shatranj, at the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau in London, as part of Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

 

We had created some Shatranj sets, probably the first new sets in hundreds of years, and taught the differences between Shatranj and modern chess to any and all that were interested.

 

The event was a large success with a steady flow of people visiting our display and learning not just how to play, but also the cultural importance of Shatranj and the legacy it left chess which is still felt today. We were blessed to be visited by the main in charge of the day's festivities, Dr. Faisal Al-Sharif, director of Public Relations and Information at the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau.

 

Many good contacts were established with Saudi students studying in the UK and the hope is to establish a Shatranj competition once the pool of proficient players is large enough. We are also looking to raise the profile and awareness of Shatranj in the UK by collaborating with the Jameel gallery at the V&A museum to create an exhibition of the art, literature, and history of Shatranj.