Learning from Sultan Khan

by ChessBase
5/9/2021 – Reading seems to have become a dying habit. With the advent of gadgets, distraction lurks around every corner and resisting the temptations has become increasingly difficult. A true bibliophile knows the essence of reading from a physical book — the smell of a newly printed one cannot be replaced by a digital version. Four-time Indian women’s champion, Asian continental champion and Olympic individual gold medallist IM Padmini Rout reflects on Daniel King’s book about Sultan Khan. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

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A dominant player

Sultan KhanBy Padmini Rout

When I was a kid, random adults would sometimes ask me if I knew Sultan Khan — I would say yes, despite it being just a name I had heard growing up but knew nothing beyond. So, when the book about Sultan Khan by Daniel King came out recently, I was curious to read it, and to my luck a friend gifted it to me on my birthday.

Sultan Khan, like me, learnt the game of chess at the age of 9 from his father. Like him, one of the first persons whom I played chess against (Satya uncle) would ask me — do you want to play with the Indian rules or Western, and I would say Western (having absolutely no idea what the Indian rules were, as back then it seemed obsolete and unimportant to me to learn it).

Satya uncle left for the heavenly abode last year, and now I can only imagine how our games would have proceeded if I had agreed to play with the Indian rules — perhaps I would have been a bit less reckless with the pawns. According to Indian rules, the pawns could only move one square at a time from their initial position and there was no castling, while the king had a superpower only once during the game to move like a knight provided it had not been checked earlier, plus a few other interesting rules.

The book and Sultan Khan’s chess progress follow the Indian Freedom struggle. In fact, you will recognize some names from your history books, like that of chess enthusiast Sir John Simon, who played a role in Sultan Khan’s career.

One theme you will find in abundance going through the games is Sultan Khan’s skilful ways of domination over the opponent’s pieces. Consider this position:


They say chess imitates life, which made me think of Sultan Khan. Was he trying to compensate for what he couldn’t do in life? Sultan, after all, means King.


Here is a technical win:


And the famous one, in the spirit of the Indian rules of chess. This is the very first game from the book:


Frederick YatesI enjoyed learning about Sultan Khan and many other chess personalities of the past. There are many interesting stories, and you will not only find Sultan Khan’s games against World Champions as Alekhine, Capablanca and Euwe, but also the likes of Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander, the player behind the GM character in The Imitation Game

Thanks to the book now I know how strong a player Sultan Khan actually was! It was such a long time ago, but reading about the death of Fred Yates [pictured] brought me tears. I hope Sultan Khan is given the GM title posthumously, much like Yates and C.H.O’D Alexander! If fictional characters can be given GM titles, then why not real life chess heroes?

I guess the true power of a human life is that we can connect across different times, ages, oceans.

Oh, and the book reminded me to watch the movie Shatranj Ke Khilari. Off to it!

P.S. Thanks for reading the article! Please let me know if you enjoyed reading it, and if it makes you want to read the book now, that will encourage me to write more.

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chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 5/17/2021 06:08
I began studying the partition of India way back in 1977. Now this is 2021. I have not finished yet. You too are well-advised to make that kind of study, starting with “Transfer of power” volumes. Primary sources as documents of the Congress Party and Muslim League need to be read alongside. You also need to go through the correspondence of the dramatic personae, Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Jinnah. A referendum among Muslims then would definitely have gone against the partition. Many who joined the new state of Pakistan have had their own disillusionment. The plight of Mojahirs is a case in point. If you wish to know more about the blood-soaked history of those days you can visit this dedicated site. It embodies the voices of victims and witnesses both:
As I wrote to our fellow reader, @lajosarpad, I won’t be able to visit this page again. Too much writing to do. Instead of this political discussion, I would like you to ask yourself only one question: “How best do we preserve the legacy of Sultan Khan?” Good luck.
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 5/17/2021 05:39
No, you have not given offence in any way. Just for info. Temples, shrines and worship of gods & goddesses are part of the Indian way of life. Muslims here have great respect for the same. Many pray and pay obeisance to these much to the displeasure of their clergy. Over centuries Hinduism and Islam have built a harmonious relationship that recognizes differences, but lays emphasis on common spiritual bonds.
To return to Sultan Khan, his play offered a unique combination of the good old “Shatranj” and modern chess. Deeply intuitive and imaginative style, manoevering on a grand scale with very imaginative use of knights. He left his spiritual heirs right herein India, Nawb Ali, Mohammad Hasan and Nasir Ali to mention a few.
A private opinion: This book on Sultan Khan is beautifully written. If you lay your hands on a copy from a library, you will like it.
I am afraid I won’t be able to visit this page from now on. A lot of writing assignments. Do participate in chess discussions here as you always do. With friendly wishes…
SermadShah SermadShah 5/16/2021 11:15
"The irony is that most Muslims chose to remain in India and they did not want this disaster brought on their heads."
You are wrong here.
Muslims were not given land according to their population at first place. Secondly, during partition, many muslims were killed when they were moving to pakistan hence remaining Muslims were discouraged to move to Pakistan.
You have omitted many things e.g Holy cow beliefs, considering Muslims "maleech", complex cast system in Hinduism etc because of which Muslims were forced to ask for a seperate country.

2 - I want to know what is the decent name for "idol-worshippers". In this thread, I wanted to use a word other than "hindu" to avoid confusing them with residence of hind.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/15/2021 09:30
@chessbibliophile thanks for clarifying all these. I have no contact whatsoever with India or Hinduism and did not research this topic, so if my statements were vague or offending, then please excuse me. However, I would like to point out that I do not question the decency of Muslims who consider Hindus idol worshippers. But I do agree with you that it is a deeply offending term, which, a decent Muslim might use without knowing that it's offensive.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/15/2021 09:30

1) I will not go into the offensive wars Muhammad fought in detail, since it would be off-topic. If one is interested, he/she could read an article about it, like this one: https://answering-islam.org/BehindVeil/btv2.html

I'm also happy to discuss this with you in the private emailing we have recently started.

9:4 is a temporal exception, it mentions that the treaty with the identified group lasts until its term: https://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=9&verse=4

After that, 9:5 comes:


Again, I won't quote this here, because it's too brutal for a chess site that can be read by children.

2) "Sorah 2 was not revealed before sorah 9 . . . . . Actually Quran was revealed line by line i.e it is possible that a verse might have preceded the other even though it is written after that. After whole Quran was completed, it was arranged in its current form."

I am perfectly aware of the fact that Uthman collected the Quranic manuscripts, created a unified Quran, changed the order of the chapters and burnt the originals. Yet, in chronological order surah 2 was revealed (according to Islam sources) before surah 9. See the chronological order of the surahs: https://wikiislam.net/wiki/Chronological_Order_of_the_Qur%27an

The penultimate surah was the 9th and the last one was the 110th.

3) I prefer to think for myself instead of letting others thinking instead of me. I'm happy to hear other opinions, but when I read some sources, I primarily rely on my understanding than on others'.
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 5/15/2021 06:10
Now the last point. The demand for Pakistan came with the 1940 Lahore Resolution by Muslim League led by Jinnah. This was followed by violent nationwide agitations. Therewere riots till the Congress leadership was forced to accept partition of India as a fait accompli by the British. Two border states, Punjab and Bengal were divided. In Punjab both Hindus and Sikhs were victims. In Bengal it was Bengali Hindus. The partition was a monumental tragedy with lakhs of people rendered homeless and killed. The plight of women and children was the worst. Muslims on the Indian side of border suffered as much as the Hindus and the Sikhs on the Pakistani side of the border.
The irony is that most Muslims chose to remain in India and they did not want this disaster brought on their heads.
Partition was a communal award that ignored the real identity aspirations of people. The 1971 movement in East Pakistan was by the Bengali populace there, most of them happened to be Muslims.The genocide that followed thereafter led to a fierce freedom struggle and Bangla Desh was born.
All this should be borne in mind when we assess issues related to Sultan Khan and India.
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 5/15/2021 06:09
This brings me to the third point, religion. What is known as Hinduism, encompasses a number of beliefs, faiths and movements, At the epicentre is Sanatana Dharma as enunciated by Vedas, Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. Here drawing parallels with paganism and pantheism would be entirely a false starter and takes us nowhere. It’s true, there are many gods and goddesses in this religion. They contribute to the richness of tradition. More importantly, they have a powerful presence in everyday lives of people. Lord Ganesha, Saraswati and Hanuman are a few examples. In the Indian tradition both monotheism and polytheism co-exist. They draw their strength from each other. On the philosophical plane there is still only one Brahman, Supreme being.
There is a vast corpus of literature on religion and schools of philosophy in India One can also gain a glimpse of work that goes on in Indology. Here is a dedicated site.

What should I say about the label, idol-worshippers? It appears innocuous, but it is not. A malicious word used by Muslim fanatics over centuries. Decent Muslims don’t use it at all.
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 5/15/2021 06:07
For starters, how did the name, India originate? It begins with the ancient river, Sindhu, now better known as the Indus river that flows through Pakistan. Greeks and Persians who encountered the people living on the banks of these waters, gave them the name, Hindus. The land that extended beyond the river came to be known as Hindustan.
Ancient Indian scriptures do not mention the word, Hindu at all. It’s an identity given by foreigners to the ancestors of this land.
But surely, it too must have an identity of its own. The answer is again in the scriptures. The land is Bharata khanda and its people are the progeny of Lord Bharata, beloved of gods.
With the invasion of Turks and Afghans, Islam made a big entry into India. Then began
massive conversions that lasted centuries.
Then it became customary to call the followers of the ancient religion alone as Hindus. The converts came to be known as Musalmaans. May it be remembered that Muslims on either side of the border have descended from those original converts.
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 5/15/2021 06:06
It was with growing unease that I read the discussion on Sultan Khan and India here.
Apparently vast misconceptions abound on this ancient land, its people and culture. “Now what has that do with chess?” Readers may ask. Plenty, I would say, on account of the controversy raised by Dr. Atiyab Sultan, Khan’s granddaughter over Danny King’s book. I shall come to that some time in a separate article. What is at stake is the idea of India itself.
But first things first. Without pointing fingers, I shall gently clear up some wrong notions about India.
pgnpioneer pgnpioneer 5/15/2021 12:11
In the Thomas game just after the comment "Time for a patient conversion into a win". White had a promising move: +0.80 31. c5 bxc5 32. b5
SermadShah SermadShah 5/14/2021 07:50
" As about fighting a war only when the opponent attacks them, that's only true if there is no caliph to announce offensive Jihad."
According to shia Muslims, our next caliph will come in end times .i.e Promised Massiah. Imam Mehdi, our 12th Imam. So I guess you will have no objection to shia Muslims. :-)
SermadShah SermadShah 5/14/2021 07:45
1 ) During Prophet's era, war was imposed by opponents many times. Badar, Auhad, Khandaq were three main wars. All of these wars were defensive. You can see the map where these wars were fought. After some time Muslims signed a treaty with Kafirs. But Kafir did not carried out their promise and once they attacked a tribe affiliated with Muslims. Kafirs murdered their men, enslave their children and women. At that time Prophet asked them to serve justice for the tribe but kafirs refused and broke the treaty.
That was the occasion Makkah was conquered.
And you are wrong about Muslims were strong then. Muslims were still very less in numbers, they had very few weapons. Prophet ordered that each man will lit his own fire. Kafir were deceived by this act and they thought that Muslims are very big in number.
After that kafir accepted defeat without even fighting and Prophet allowed them to reside in Makah. After some time they again spread fitna and then the sorah 9 was revealed to Prophet.

You can read verse 9:4 . . . . . It starts with "expect those who fulfilled their promise . . .. "
I strongly recommend that you read this sorah till 9:15 atleast.

2) Sorah 2 was not revealed before sorah 9 . . . . . Actually Quran was revealed line by line i.e it is possible that a verse might have preceded the other even though it is written after that. After whole Quran was completed, it was arranged in its current form.

3) Reading the whole Quran by yourself is not enough. You have to follow some Leaders ( Imam) in order to get guidence. I belong to shia sect who follows Ahle Bait (Family members of Prophet e.g Ali, Hasan, Hussain, Sajjad, Mosa Kazim, Jaffar Sadiq and six more Imams). All of my Imams have preached about defensive war. You can read history.
To follow rightous Imam is necessary because they explain Quran correctly, they tell you some points which ordinary human is unable to see. etc
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/14/2021 06:20
@SermadShah I told you I have read the Quran - among other Islamic sources - cover to cover. You either apply taqiyyah or are unaware of the fact that 9:1 abrogated 2:190. According to Islam Surah 2 was revealed before Surah 9. So, 9:1 abrogates anything that contradicts it revealed prior to that. This is less brutal than the verses I have referred to earlier, so let's see it:

"Severance of ties is proclaimed by Allah and on behalf of His Noble Messenger, towards the polytheists with whom you had a treaty."

So, if a Muslim community had a treaty with poytheists (or as you called them "Idol Worshippers"), then severance of ties is proclaimed by Allah and his Noble Messenger towards the polytheists. At first, the Muslim community was weak. At that point it was peaceful. Then defensive Jihad was allowed and when the group was strong-enough, offensive Jihad was proclaimed as well. This is why Muhammad eventually conquered Mecca, despite the ceasefire according to the treaty of Hudaybiyyah and 9:5, or the verse of the sword is too brutal to quote here as well as 9:29. 9:5 is against polytheists and 9:29 are against the people of the book (i.e. Jews and Christians). As about fighting a war only when the opponent attacks them, that's only true if there is no caliph to announce offensive Jihad. Btw, the Muslim army defended its way well to the Iberian peninsula to the west and to India in the east.

Idol Worshipper from the point of view of someone who believes in an Abrahamic faith this is a derogatory term, if I were a Hindu I would be offended to be called Idol Worshipper, I would perfectly understand what is meant by that. Their religion is called Hindu, so, for one, I call them Hindus.
SermadShah SermadShah 5/14/2021 02:53
Well, you are welcomed to ask me anything about Quran or Shariah. Here is my answer . . . .
All of those verses you mentioned are for war times and in Islam, Muslims can only fight a war when the opponent attacks them. i.e war is always defensive in Islam as mentioned in verse 2:190.
Bear this point in mind and these verses will make perfect sense.
you go ahead and read complete sorah.
Quran is divided in Sorah (Chapters). Sorah is similar as "City". i.e when you study complete Sorah, only then it will make sense. So, I ask you to read 9:5 to :29. It will make a lot more sense. Same is advised for 8th, and 4th sorah. Read full sorahs.

"When you call someone an idol worshipper, then you show disrespect towards them."
I am unable to understand how is it disrespectful??? Surely somebody who believes in oneness of God, may find idol-worshipper offensive if used against him but I dont think Hindus will be offended by this term.

Anyway, I apologize if I offended any Hindu here.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/14/2021 12:52
@SermadShah, I have read the Quran, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Thirmidhi hadiths, the Sirat written by ibn Ishak and the Reliance of the Traveller. I would not call myself an expert about Islam, but let's put it this way: I'm pretty informed about it. As about Hindus in Pakistan or Muslims in India, they are both minorities with their own problems. I have read pretty much about the two countries and am pretty informed about them. The constitution of Pakistan requires that all laws conform with Islam and not conflict with the Quran or Sunnah, which is bad news for non-Muslims living there. Since the consitution refers to the sharia laws, which are quite intolerant to non-Muslims, there are many sources in main religious Muslim scriptures that prove that, like Quran 9:5, 9:29, 8:12, 4:47, example: https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/47/4/

I won't quote here, because my comment might be deleted because of the extreme language and rulings of the Quran. And the laws cannot contradict the Quran. Q.E.D.

The word "Hindu" comes from Sindhu, which means "a large body of water" according to wikipedia. From a monotheistic point of view Hindus can be considered Pagans or Idol Worshippers, but both are hostile terms. When you call someone an idol worshipper, then you show disrespect towards them. If you call them Hindu, that's quite an objective and non-hostile term. I will not tell you how you should identify a group of people, but when you do so, I reserve my right to express an opinion about that.

However, this is not our topic here, I agree with you that we should not conduct a debate about Islam or Pakistan here. I mainly focused on Sultan Khan's origins and I find your argument that he was a Muslim and leaved in Pakistan quite plausible as a hypothesis. However, we need to make sure that we know that it is not a proof.

@Frits Fritschy so far the discussion here has been peaceful, SermadShah, for instance has been quite friendly and I also am friendly.
SermadShah SermadShah 5/14/2021 06:34
@Frits Fritschy
You are right we should not start some sort of war here.
I assure you I am not angry with anybody. I am always eager to answer questions about my country, religion etc. During this conversation at this thread, I used :-) simeley again and again to express that I am not angry.
Anyway I think we should end this debate here.If anybody wants to question about Islam or Pakistan he can contact me on sermadshah at gmail.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 5/13/2021 09:38
As I say for the third time, historical geography is a tricky business. Let Indians who consider their forefathers Indian continue to do so, and let Pakistani do the same. Certainly on a chess forum - we don't want to start a nuclear war here.
My last contribution.
SermadShah SermadShah 5/13/2021 03:09
India and Hind, Hindustan are same but
India , Hindustan are used for the country India and not for Pakistan Bangladesh etc.
Indian mean something or somebody related to India but hindu means Idol-worshipper. Although these have same meanings.
Hind is still used for the region (Pak, India, Bangladesh)
Hindi (in arabic) means anybody living in Pak, Ind or BD. Arabs call pakistani Muslims as Hindi Muslims. It might surprise you that Hind is indeed Arabic term.
Hindi (in India) means Indian. Urdu language is also called Hindi in India.

So for Sultan Khan, please use some term which was used for the region Pak+Ind+BD. I suggest United Hind, British India and Sub-continent so that people may not confuse it with India(country).
SermadShah SermadShah 5/13/2021 02:56
India is called "Bharat" in her native language which means "to be maintained” (of fire). It is sanskrit term and shows hindu's affiliation to "fire".
But I will not conclude something like "what kind of rights do the "NON-idol worshippers" have there.
Indians ACTIONS will decide whether they are good or bad.

If you really want to know how other people are treated in India and in Pakistan, google [2002 Gujarat riots]. You can search for videos uploaded by foreigners about their visit to Pakistan and India. A few tourists have embraced Islam after visiting Pakistan.

You see, it is the most important step that we must ask for clarification before making our mind against the accused. So I encourge you to ask me any question about Islam and Pakistan.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/13/2021 12:41

"I already wrote that Sultan Khan lived in Pakistan and his family is still residing in Pakistan. This is my only proof that he wanted to be recognized as a Pakistani."

I acknowledge that this is a basis to form an opinion and I would add his Muslim religion as a further argument for it. However, this by no means proves that he considered himself to be a Pakistani after the formation of the country. If we would accept the quoted reasoning as proof, then we would also have to accept that Tibetans consider themselves Chinese, Uighurs consider themselves Chinese, Chechens consider themselves Russians, Palestinians consider themselves Jews, Turks in Germany consider themselves Germans. The fact that a country was formed where he lived and virtually all his family remained there does not prove that he liked the idea of dividing his country, mass deportation of Hindus and Muslims who lived at the wrong place at the wrong time and the formation of Pakistan. He might have strongly opposed all these or he possibly had a strong Pakistani identity or he might have had a third identity, not mentioned or known by me. I think we need accuracy. I see three possible solutions for the flag:

- besides his name the flag of British India could be displayed
- besides his name the Pakistani flag could be displayed
- besides his name the flag of British India could be displayed at games prior to 1947 and the Pakistani flag afterwards

Note: when I have written that Muslims wanted a state like Hindus, I have meant Muslims wanted a state just like Hindus wanted, of course Muslims did not want to live as Hindus :)
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/13/2021 12:31
So we can establish that:
- India has a long history and even though in colonial period it was "British India", it was still India, even though it was occupied
- Pakistan did not exist at the time Sultan Khan was born, even though lots of Muslims lived in India back then, who wanted to have a state of their own, like Indian Hindus
- the two religious groups did not get along well, there were lots of clashes and the situation escalated into mass-scaled deportation and segregation
- India is much older than Islam, the former has a history dating back well into BC, while Islam was founded by Muhammad in the 7th century in Arabia and then shortly - at least in historic terms - appeared at India as an invading force
- from then on there were two religious identities, Hindus and Muslims. The latter has a very strong national identity called the Umma, or, in English, the Muslim Brotherhood
- Muslims wanted a country of their own, as Hindu Indians, so the two formed two independent states after the colonial period

In view of all these facts, Sultan Khan was born in 1903, then British India and his region later on gained independence with the name of Pakistan.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/13/2021 12:28
@Frits Fritschy we can establish that Sultan Khan was born in 1903, then British India and Pakistan today. These are undebatable facts. He could have not possibly thought himself to be Pakistani by country until 1947. He could be rightfully considered Pakistani from 1947 onwards by country. However, whatever the flag, his national identity (if he had one) is most important to me from this point of view. I do not know about any statements on his part where he would have identified his national identity and would more than welcome factual information about that. He was a Muslim though, so if he was serious about his religion, then he could arguably have had a Pakistani identity from 1946-1947. British India means "India occupied by Britain". Even the name suggests that India existed for long before the British occupation. Pakistan did not. Pakistan is a term to show that it is the land of the "pure", which is a very similar statement to the land of the aria. Others living there, Hindus in particular are considered idol worshippers, as SermadShah pointed out, so, if we look at the name of the country, it is the country of the "pure" Muslims and not the mushrikun idol worshippers. Which says a lot about what kind of rights do the "idol worshippers" have there.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 5/12/2021 04:17
To satisfy both sides of the border, I'm completely happy with either 'he was born in former British India' or 'he was born in what is now Pakistan'.
However, without meaning to equal the Raj with the Third Reich, most Dutch people born between 1940 and 1945 wouldn't like it if they were referred to as born in the latter. I could understand similar emotions from people born in the area of British India.
I think the best way to write about historic geographical entities is to work from present boundaries and names. Spain ruled the Netherlands for some time; some eastern parts have been part of counties that are now in Germany (also a very recent country name). But all territory that is within the present borders should be considered as being part of Dutch history. So even if it may not be entirely correct historically, I can understand people from Pakistan claiming that Sultan Khan was born in Pakistan.
SermadShah SermadShah 5/12/2021 03:45
I already wrote that Sultan Khan lived in Pakistan and his family is still residing in Pakistan. This is my only proof that he wanted to be recognized as a Pakistani. You can read about his family on his wiki page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mir_Sultan_Khan
Surely, he was not a Pakistani in 1903 as Pakistan was not on map then, similarly, he was not an Indian either as India also did not exist then. So it should clearly be mentioned that he belonged to "British India" and certainly Indian flag used against his name is misleading.
You see, terms [India] and [British India] seem very similar but these are very different.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 5/12/2021 03:44
There is a very wide gap between top-level scientific discourses and the scrambled up writings of a travel agent.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/12/2021 11:34
@Frist Fritschy One may argue that he considered himself a Pakistani at the advent of the Pakistani movement in 1946 or at the foundation of Pakistan as a country in 1947, but it is absurd to say that he was born in Pakistan in 1903.

@SermadShah "It is certain that Sultan Khan wanted to be recognized as a Pakistani." Do you have some interviews, biographies, writings to back that up? Thanks!

"Sultan Khan Kushabian" makes sense, since 1. He was a Muslim 2. It accurately describes the place he lived at. However, when deciding what flag should be displayed near his name, we need to settle whether he considered himself more Indian or Pakistani. If after 1947 he considered himself a Pakistani, I would consider him to be a Pakistani. However, whatever he considered his national identity to be, he was certainly not born a Pakistani in 1903.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/12/2021 11:24
@Frits Fritschy when I write scientific articles I do so. However, at Chessbase we are conducting lightweight discussions most of the time, I do not expect on Chessbase "arguments" that are asking for scientific articles, it would be strange to see top-level scientific discourses in Chessbase's comment section, I would not object, but demanding that is not a constructive attitude. Yes, North Korea did not exist prior to the 20th century, which is obviously an error in the given article. Korea existed though and both South Korea and North Korea originate from Korea which was split in the 20th century. However, this is a red herring, since the topic of the article is Sultan Khan and our discussion about Indian and Pakistani history is relevant to the topic in order to determine accurately his origins, yet, the origin of North Korea is off topic and presumably you only brought that up in order to discredit me. So, if you have anything relevant to say about the topic, I would be happy to read it. Since you are not satisfied by a quick google search and appear to be more pedantic in this discussion (at least when speaking about what others say, your pedantry seemingly does not include sticking to the topic), let me give you some other sources:


However, the real question is: did India exist prior to 1947 for many centuries, even though it was occupied by the Brits? As far as I know, the answer is obviously YES. Did Pakistan exist in 1903 or at any time prior to that? No. As a concept it was invented in the 19th century, but as a state or a nation it did not exist. So, as a result, Sultan Khan could not be considered to be born Pakistani in 1903 by any logical means.
SermadShah SermadShah 5/11/2021 03:17
@Frits Fritschy
Yes, you are right about term Hindush. It is a geographic term but it was adopted by idol-worshipers. Now idol-worshipers of this region are called "hindu". Perhaps this is the reason Pakistanis gave up this term. As partition of sub-continent was carried out because of two-nation-theory i.e Hindus(Idol-worshippers) and Muslims are two distinct nations.

With the passage of time, new countries are formed thus making it very difficult to decide to which country a historical figure belongs. For this, many prominent personalities of Islamic history are designated by the name of the city they were born. Example is al-Khwarizmi a.k.a Algorithmi. Who was a Persian, worked in Baghdad,Iraq. But he is called Khwarizmi i.e citizen of Khawrizm ( a place in Uzbekistan).
So I think we should call him Sultan Khan Khushabian. :-)

It is certain that Sultan Khan wanted to be recognized as a Pakistani. He was born in Khushab, Pakistan, he lived in Sargodha, Pakistan till his death. His family lived in Pakistan afterwards.
FWRandle FWRandle 5/11/2021 02:45
Very nice article. Chess great : Sultan Khan!
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 5/11/2021 02:21
Lajosarpad, if you want to add some weight to your opinions, you would do better to refer to websites with a slightly more scientific background. And some people might argue that an India-based company is not an objective source by nature in view of this discussion. However, it was quite funny to read that North Korea dates back to the 7th century BC; thank you for that.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/11/2021 01:59
@SermadShah he might be considered Pakistani from 1947 onwards, but IMHO not prior to that. He might have been a Pakistani, but he was not born a Pakistani. I did not claim he was an Indian, yet we could consider him as "Indian" by the sub-continent or by the historical name of the country. Or, a Pakistani after the transition in 1947. I would like to know what he considered himself to be and would accept that.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/11/2021 01:58
@Frits Fritschy yes, we had. However, in this case Pakistan was not an existent country at the time Sultan Khan was born. One could consider him to be Pakistani after the country was founded, but prior to that in my opinion it's anachronistic. These topics are always interesting, I wonder what Sultan Khan considered himself to be/belong to. Pakistan means "a land abounding in the pure", which, in its name is a religious statement about the inhabitants and about the less pure non-Muslims. They have chosen to be identified as "pure" rather than "Indian". It's a new nation which did not exist prior to the middle of the twentieth century. There were nations/ethnicities called Pashtu, Urdu, Hindi, Tamil, etc. in the region which includes modern India and Pakistan. However, India as a country was originally founded in 2500 BC (see https://traveltriangle.com/blog/oldest-countries-in-the-world/) and it was occupied by the British. So, considering Sultan Khan to be Indian makes some sense and considering him to be Pakistani from 1947 makes some sense as well. But saying that he was born in Pakistan is false in my opinion. India has a 4.5. millenia history. Pakistan is brand new.

@mehmet17 prior to the (re)foundation of India and Pakistan as independent states in 1947 Hindus and Muslims were not homogeneously divided in the region. However, at the creation of the two countries there were deportations on mass scales, creating homogeneous regions. The terms of division were not nationality or language, but religion. An exception being Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region which had to defend itself against a Pakistani attack and it's right to self-determination was protected by the Indian army back then.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 5/11/2021 12:39
Sermad Shah,
As I learn from wikipedia, the name 'India' is derived from Hindush, the eastern part of the Achaemenid empire, and the river Indus. Both are (mainly) situated in what is now Pakistan. So I guess Pakistan should have reserved the name 'India' for itself in 1947... As I wrote, tricky business, historic geographical names.
Jorge Shinozaki Jorge Shinozaki 5/11/2021 10:59
Thanks for the interesting article.
I'm looking forward to buy the book and learn more about the mysterious chess legend.
It's clear to me that if he had pursued his chess career he would be GM and even be the challenger for the WC crown.
Sultan Khan would be happy if he knew he inspired generations of chess players, including the Tiger of Madras.
SermadShah SermadShah 5/11/2021 09:02
Before 1947, there were no country named as India.
So either you call Khan by the name of his region AFTER 47, i.e Pakistan OR you call Khan by the name of his region BEFORE 47, i.e Sub-continent, British India, Hind etc.
Using indian flag and mentioning India as his country , is misleading.
mehmet17 mehmet17 5/10/2021 09:02
If a country is internationally recognised this doesn't mean it is made up in one day. In most cases this means there was a seperate nation with its history , who had a different language . Many countries inhabit a multitude of nations and it must be relevant how the people identify themselves..
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 5/10/2021 08:10
Lajos, didn't we have a discussion once about the Alsatian GM Bauer, whether he should be called French or German? Historical geographic origin, always a tricky subject.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/10/2021 06:38
Was Montezuma a Mexican?
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/10/2021 06:38
I'm fascinated to hear that Sultan Khan has born into a country that did not exist at that point. Can somebody explain how was he born in Pakistan in 1903 when the country was founded in 1947? Thanks in advance!
malfa malfa 5/10/2021 01:21
As a suggested reading I would like to mention also "Game of the Gods" by Paolo Maurensig, a factually very accurate novel on Sultan Khan's life, like many other excellent works this Italian author has written on chess.