Sarah's Chess Journal

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         The History and The Culture of Chess

Indian Chess
April 2007

circa 1841-1845


Sir, -- As you take an interest in Chess and Chess Players of all countries, I am induced to mention to you the substance of a conversation I had last night, with an intelligent native of Delhi, Karim Khan, at present in this country. He tells me that there is resident in Delhi a native gentleman, by name Karamat Ali Khan, famous throughout Hindustan for his consummate skill in Chess. His age may be about five and forty, and he lives in independent circumstances; but for many years past he has not met with his match in the game. Christians, Mahommedans and Hindus, have repeatedly measured their strength with him, but of them were obliged to retire, shorn of their previous laurels, if they had any. Not long ago he played with a neighboring Rajah for a stake as high as six thousands rupees (about 600 £), and won easily.
Such is the account my friend Karim Khan gives of this "wise man of the East;" and my object in mentioning it to you is, that, probably, among your numerous readers, there may be some, like myself, who have spent a portion of their lives in India, and who may have seen and played with this invincible champion. If so, they may probably inform us what his real strength may be compared with the best players of France and England. I make every allowance for my Oriental friend's description of him, and, after all, there remains sufficient ground for concluding that Karamat Ali Khan is a fine player. Throughout India he is now surnamed Shatir, which signifies a Chess Player, par excellence. Finally, I may mention, that when the lately Lord Aukland visited the Northern Provinces, Karmat Ali Khan was presented to His Lordship -- and honour which he owed to his skill in Chess.
In Delhi, Chess is a favourite game, perhaps more so than in any part of the world. Now that the English rule the land, the proud descendent of the Rajpoots and the Moghuls have found a more innocuous field of contention than they possessed some centuries back.
                                                 I am yours, &c.                   ShÄgird.


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