There are around two million Thais who can play makruk, while 5000 can play chess.
According to former world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik, Makruk Thai is more strategic than international chess. You have to plan your operations with total care since Makruk Thai can be compared to an anticipated endgame of International Chess.
(called เบี้ย bia, a cowry shell, formerly used for money) Moves and captures like a pawn in international chess, but cannot move two steps on the first move and, therefore, cannot be captured en passant. A pawn that reaches the sixth rank is always promoted to a queen (med).
(called เม็ด met), the weakest piece, moves one step in any diagonal direction, like the fers in shatranj, or a cat sword in dai shogi.
(called โคน khon, nobleman or mask) moves one step in any diagonal direction or one step forward, like the silver general in shogi.
(called ม้า ma, horse) moves like a knight in Western chess: two steps in one direction and then one step perpendicular to that movement. It jumps over any pieces in the way.
(called เรือ ruea, boat) moves like a rook in Western chess: any number of steps horizontally or vertically.
moves like a king in international chess – one step in any direction. He is allowed to make a Ses (knight jump) at his first move (This special move is no more used in Thailand). The game ends when the king is checkmated.
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