Shatranj ke khiladi

Shatranj ke khiladi ("The Chess Players") is a story in Hindi written by Munshi Premchand. Premchand's Urdu version is titled Shatranj ki bazi.

The story depicts decadent royalty of Central North India. It is set around the life of Nawabs of Lucknow, local feudal lords, in the eighteenth century. The desire for the game destroys the competency of the characters, and makes them irresponsible in their duties towards their families and society. Two local aristocrats derive immense pleasure in developing chess strategies and ignore the real life invasion by an enemy. Their city falls to British attackers even as they are busy playing a game of chess.

In 1977, Satyajit Ray made a film with the same name, based on this story.


  • Pritchett, Frances W. "The Chess Players: From Premchand to Satyajit Ray" in "Essays on Premchand," ed. by Carlo Coppola; Journal of South Asian Literature 22,2 (Summer-Fall 1986):65-78. Available at

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