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Art of Chess & Variants

Historical chess games, the European and the Japanese chess to Paradise chess Chess with other pieces, new original games Chess variants for children World chess game

1 Fundamental rules of the official (European) chess and the Japanese

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2 Chess with other pieces and rules, paradise chess


3 Chess with different pieces, new games


4 Chess variants with the usual board and chessmen


5 Chess with added pieces



1 Traditional chess, European & Japanese



Standard European chess (EC)

First the classic chess game. On the image beside the starting position is demonstrated. We use standard figures for the representation in 2D. It has been used since long time before the computers came, in chess studies and puzzles. A short version of the rules:

  • winner is the one who can checkmate the opponent's king (means check and no way to escape)
  • white always start first
  • starting positions as on the illustration
  • beating by standing on the place of the opponent and taking the beaten piece aside (except donner en passant, see further on)
  • moving and beating of the pieces: pawn goes one field straight forwards, but beats one field diagonal forwards / knight (moving and beating): orthogonal, first 2 fields, followed by another field squared; the knight can jump over other pieces / bishop: all diagonal fields / rook: all orthogonal fields / queen: bishop + rook / king: one field in all directions
  • special moves:
    • from the starting point the pawn can choose to make a double step forwards
    • donner en passant: if, after having done the previous double move, you land just beside a pawn of the opponent, the opponent can choose to beat this very pawn of yours, and lands on the field passed your pawn.
    • castle: rook and king are switching places. On condition the fields between them are empty and the king is not placed in check. Also no field the king must pass by, may be threatened by the opponent. The rook and the king have not done any movement yet. Place: the king and rook land beside each other on the fields between them, reversed. Castle on the queen's side: one field more to the middle of the row.


  • a pawn reaching the last row, is promoted immediately by changing in another chessman of choice. Even when the player still has a queen in the running, he can get a second one. (For this a rook is taken and put upside down on the field.)
  • a game can end in resignation, when de king is in not in check, but no meaningful move can be done, called stalemate. Draw is also when 50 moves are done without capture or pawn move, or when there is no perspective. Also when de king is perpetually put in check and cannot be made checkmate.
  • loops are not allowed. Loops are the threefold repetition of moves. Another move has to be done.


In the course of time the best moves to begin with where studied. The result were the opening theories. A good player memorises the first 12 moves. The main feature is the full development of all pieces before any attack. In that position the chessmen have control over a maximum of fields, as centered as possible and defending each other. After the opening comes the middle game, most important is thinking far in advance. In the end game the opponent's king is attacked and his own defended, with a restrict number of remaining chessmen.

To prevent memorising the different openings the chess champion Fisher developed a game where those openings are useless, called chess960. In that starting position the white pawns remain on the second row. All other white pieces are chosen randomly and placed on the first row as such. With two restrictions: both bishops on another field colour, and the king must stand between the two rooks, to make castle possible. The black chessmen are placed symmetrically to the white. The second game is identical, but the players change colour.




The historical Japanese chess game has several variations. We are showing the most common. Shogi is a fascinating game, because the fallen pieces do become pieces of the conqueror, dropped on an empty field on the board. Therefore all pieces have the same colour, and the form of an arrow. The direction of the arrow reveals the owner, they are always pointing to the opponent.

As in EC the goal is to put the opponent king checkmate. Capture is by changing places and removing the piece from the board ('in hand'). The board is 9x9. The chessmen have another symbol at the bottom side, in red, it is their promotion (except gold and king). Promotion is when moving to a field in the last three rows, while turning the piece.

In shogi characters are written on the pieces. However in books and on the internet the characters are completely different, called abbrevations. To make the game more easy several replacing symbols have been invented. Most used are the symbols on the right, revealing their moving capacities.

row 1, left to right: lance, all fields forward - knight, as in EC, but only forwards (also called eighth knight) - silver, one field diagonal and forward - gold, one step for- and backward, also to the sides and diagonally forward - king, as in EC
row 2, left to right: bishop, as in EC - rook, as in EC
row 3, pawns, one field forward (capture also, unlike EC, and no double moves)

Promotion: bishop and rook get a surplus of one field in the remaining directions. Silver, lance, pawn and horse become gold. Gold and king do not promote. Promotion can be postponed (with silver, knight or lance it can be usefull)

© Johan Framhout October 2014



On the left the promotions in red at the bottom side of the chessmen: promoted gold, promotion of rook and bishop.

Captured pieces can be put on the board by it's conqueror on any empty field, this is a turn. Exceptions: 1, if it cannot move, 2, a pawn cannot be placed in a column which already has a pawn of oneself, 3, when dropped on the last three rows, the chessmen cannot be promoted. Promotion is always when crossing the border between the first six rows and the last three.

  As in EC there is the opening, middle game and endgame. As in EC the game can be started in a wellbalanced, developed position. (In EC see chess page 4). Aside two examples: on the left a position from a game Segawa against Kadokura, 2017, no piece at hand. On the right an opening position called 'bishop exchange, double reclining silver', both with a bishop in hand.  

Brief history of EC

The oldest chess game, chaturanga, comes from North India (then East Persia), with four players on a 8x8 board, capturing the king as the goal, with help of a dice. The present queen was an advisor, moving one field diagonally. The elephant jumped to the second fields diagonally. The game expanded towards Persia, the Sassaniden empire, as well as northerly. In the North it further evolved to the present Chinese and Japanese chess. Already in Persia the king was not allowed to be captured, but put in check, from fear of the shah. From Persia chess spreaded further to the Arabians and the North African area. From Arabia it moved to Byzantium and Kieweru (roughly Russia and more South), and from North Africa to Italy and Spain. The vikings brought it from North Africa to England and Northern Europe. It entered the Franconian empire along North and East Europe, Italy and Spain. It was mainly a game for two players.

The rook was called wagon, sometimes boat. With the Persians it was called ruhk, the mythical bird. The form of the rook as a symbol was derived from the Indian elephant chessman, figured with the battle tower on it's back. In the Islam countries the form became abstract. The adviser was called wesir, later the wife, in Europe fers. The Arabians had large lybraries with end games and check positions. In Northern Europe chessmen evolved to king and queen, bishops, knights, rooks and footmen. In the 12th century the fields became black and white. The name bishop stayed in English, in French it became the fool, to the Germans the elder or sage, in Spain alfil. The name rook comes from rock, the Persian bird. Also the form of the bishop is evolved from the abstract Arabian form of an elephant, showing the two tusks, interpreted as the splitted hat of bishop's mitre. The game was won by means of check, stalemate or conquering the opponent's chessmen.

From the experimenting players the orthodox gamers finaly adapted the queen's and the bishop's possibilities (15th century). A promoting prawn was first returned to the first row before becoming queen. Nevertheless the Arabian chess stand hold for a long time. In EC castling of king and rook arose, the pawn got it's double move. Because one felt humiliated by another pawn passing, 'donner en passant' was invented. The queen was called lady in Duth, German, French, Spanish and Italian (donna), probably because it was the time the Virgin veneration arose. To make the game more dynamic also other solutions are invented beside the powerfull queen, such as in the Bonus Socius where the rook could also move and strike as an elephant.


Starting position of the oldest known chess game, chaturanga

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