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Chess with Rare Scotch: The Punjabi Way

Updated on December 17, 2019
emge profile image

An Air Warrior and prolific writer with over 60 published short stories and four novels. He is also globe trotter and observer of human life

Playing Chess

Chess is popular all over the world. It's one of the oldest games known to man. There is mention of the game in ancient Greek literature as well as the Mahabharata. We have the story of Yudhistera wagering his wife in a game of chess and losing her. As per legend, she was saved from being disrobed in public by none other than Lord Krishna. The game in India was known as "Shatranj." It was imported from Iran

Chess is a board game. Ancient kings made their own adaptations. A visit to Fatehpur Sikri will reveal a chessboard made on the stone floor. It's a huge board and the concubines of the emperor Akbar doubled and stood in place of the pawns and other soldiers while the king moved his concubines from one square to another.

The game has not changed much over the last 7000 years. The only change is that some rules and regulations have been codified. It was not a common man's game and mostly in India the Nawabs and other royal rulers played the game. Many using their queens and wives or concubines as soldiers on a large board.

Sometimes it turned into an orgy as brought out by Diwan Jarmani Das in his book "Princes."

The game is played on a chessboard and consists of a total of 32 pieces known as soldiers and knights. It is a game of strategy and the aim is to checkmate or capture the king. Once that happens the game is over.

I have been playing chess with my maternal grandfather. But on a recent visit to Punjab, I found a new innovation. The Punjabi's are robust people and have invented the Patiala Peg which is actually a double large shot and the Patiala Chicken. In one variant of Chess similarly, various shades of Scotch whiskey replace the traditional players on a chessboard. Thus ornamental glasses filled with 30 ml scotch pegs double as pawns and knights.

Playing Chess the Punjabi way

What is the Punjabi way of playing Chess? Another name given to it is Punjabi Chess. Yet another name given is "Whiskey Chess." The players on the chessboard are replaced by delicate glasses containing Scotch whiskey. Thus ordinary scotch like 100 Pipers, Vat 69, Old Smuggler or similar brands is used to fill up delicate glasses that represent pawns. Most of the time 30ml is used to fill up the glasses i.e. a small peg.

Good whiskey like Black Label, Chivas Regal, Macallan, etc is used to fill up the delicate glasses representing Knights, Castles and the horses. The king and queen have glasses filled with a peg of rare scotch like Royal Salute.

The game is played the normal way with the exception that when any player wins an opponent he gets the chance to gulp the scotch peg. Thus if a player captures a pawn then he gets a chance to gulp the scotch whiskey that is in the ornamental glass representing that pawn. This makes for a thrilling game and the aim is to checkmate the king and gulp the Royal Salute. This innovation is becoming popular but it requires real stamina to play the game. The player cannot afford to get drunk and lose the game. When the Nawabs played the game with their concubines, the winner had the pick of the girl who represented the pawn. The more beautiful girls represented the King and queen.

" Punjabi Chess" is great fun. It's also a test of your stamina. I played a game with my American friend and he got knocked out pretty fast. I love it and I don't think even Omar Khayyam can better this.


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    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      16 months ago from Singapore

      Thank you, Liz. Let me know when your husband plays this game.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      16 months ago from UK

      This looks like an interesting variation of chess that my husband would like.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      16 months ago from Singapore

      Thank you Manatita sir for sparing time and commenting

    • manatita44 profile image


      16 months ago from london

      Great game. Some of my friends are awesome!

      I see it being played in Chinese movies a lot! They seem to have different variations and symbols.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      16 months ago from Singapore

      Thank you, Col for commenting

    • profile image

      Col B Singh 

      16 months ago

      An interesting article. I haven't ever played this sort of chess though I wouldn't mind it. Perhaps if I were a Nawab the chess with "goli's"would be better.


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