The Chess Variant Pages


(c) 1998 Philip John Brady

The Object

The object is to checkmate the enemy king, or to capture all enemy pieces except the king.

The Board

The board consists of two side-3 hex boards joined along one side, as indicated in the drawing. The board is tri-colored, as in usual hex chess variants. (The colors in the drawing are arbitrary.) In each half of the board, some lines are drawn in red. These indicate the pawn promotion zone and the king's castle.

The Castle

The castle is a six-hex triangle, consisting of a player's entire first rank, the middle two hexes of the second rank, and the center her of the third rank. The king is restricted to these squares, although he may capture enemy pieces adjacent to himself and the castle.

The Pawn Promotion Zone

The pawn promotion zone for white is the 8th, 9th, and 10th ranks of the board. For black, the zone is the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st ranks. When entering or moving in the zone, pawns may promote to any piece captured by the opponent.

The Pieces

Each player starts with four pawns, two knights, two bishops, two rooks, and a king. The pieces are initially placed as indicated in the drawing.


Pawns move one hex forward, across hex sides. They capture in the same manner. (This is different from standard hex chess pawns.) Pawns may not make an initial two-step move, and en passant captures are not allowed.

Pawns may promote when first entering the promotion zone, or when advancing within the zone. Pawns only promote to pieces captured by the opponent. If there are no pieces available for promotion, a pawn may not move to the 10th rank, but it may give check to the enemy king.


Knights move as a standard hex chess knight. They may move over empty space, such as from e3 to f6.


Bishops move as standard hex chess bishops, with a maximum range of two hexes. Note that each player has a bishop on a color that the other player does not.


Rooks move as standard hex chess rooks, with a maximum range of four hexes.

The King

The king moves as a standard hex chess rook with a range of two hexes. The king is also restricted to staying within his castle. In effect, this means the king may move to any hex in his castle except the hex a bishop-move away. The king may not move into check, but he may move through check to reach a safe hex.

Within the castle, the king captures as he moves. The king also has the ability to capture an adjacent enemy piece without moving, provided the enemy piece is outside the castle. An adjacent hex in this sense is a hex one rook-move away. A king may not move and use the no-move capture in the same turn.

There is no castling.

Draws and Stalemates

If a king is bared, but can bare the enemy king on his next move, the game is a draw. Stalemates also result in a draw.

Board Notation

The ranks are numbered 1-10, starting with White's king's rank. "Files" are lettered a-h from bottom left to upper right. The white rook in the bottom left is on hex a1, the knight above it is on a2. White's pawns occupy b4, c4, d4, e4; and so on.

The king's no-move capture can be represented by "!", as in K!Nd4, or even !a2. Pawn moves should be written clearly, to avoid ambiguity.

Design Notes and Inspirations

The idea for the board came from Hans Bodlaender's description of "squares" in the 38-Challenge rules. George Jelliss asked about a hex board made of two side-3 hex boards, and my idea grew from there.

Basic piece moves on the hex board come from Glinski's hex chess.

The short rook and short bishop were inspired by Ralph Betza's work. I didn't want pieces to dominate the board from a far distance, as the rook would seem to do along the five long "columns". By limiting the rook to four hexes, and the bishop to two hexes, each can traverse the length of a domain (a side-3 hex) in one move. The rook can still dominate the board, but it has to move into the bottleneck between the domains to do it.

I decided against a queen (combined rook and bishop), because her mobility is high for the shape and size of the board. A queen in the center of a domain can reach every hex in the domain. A queen can also mate a king all by herself, if done right. (Q to d8, K to g9/10, Qe8 mate)

The pawn move and capture seemed natural, so I used it. Pawn promotion rules are taken from Shogi and Christian Freeling's Grand Chess. Promotion only to captured pieces is found in other variants.

The king and his castle has inspiration from Xiangqi and Freeling's Chad, especially the inability to move to every hex of the castle from every hex. Leaving a hole for an invader to sit in seems important. I didn't include the "same column" restriction because it didn't seem appropriate, would only work with the diagonals, and wouldn't cover each castle completely. (Free hexes are a1 for White, h10 for Black.) It may be necessary to add it later for mating purposes, but maybe not when the bare king rule is enforced.

The king's no-movement capture is taken from the lion's capture in Dai Shogi, except for the requirement the enemy be outside the castle. The king seemed a little weak, and with the short-ranged pieces moving to the other domain, I felt some defense was necessary.

The bare king rule is from Shatranj, and a few other variants.

The name, Peanut, comes from a name of a Settlers of Catan (Die Siedler von Catan, auf Deutsch) variant. In that variant, two side-3 hexes of land hexes are placed together just as you see in the diagram, a "peanut" shape.

And of course, none of this would have been possible if Hans Bodlaender hadn't set up this great collection.


A lot of different ideas popped into my head as I was designing this, maybe because I haven't tested the basic version yet. Here's what else I thought of, grouped into concepts.

  1. Allow pawns to promote to any piece.
  2. a. Change the knight to a horseman, knight move plus dabbaba (jump to second square rookwise). This results in a ring of attacked hexes around the horseman.
  3. b. Change the knight to a cavalier, knight move plus alfil (jump to the second square bishopwise). This gives six three-hex areas the cavalier attacks. These two have the same problem, lots of mobility for the piece and lots of potential for multi-fork attacks. But the idea is interesting, so I listed them.
  4. a. Add the "same column" restriction to kings. In this case, a king may not be in the same diagonal (bishop-path) as the enemy king, if there are no intervening pieces.
  5. b. Drop the no-move capture rule.
  6. c. Remove the castle from the board. The king moves freely with a one- hex move either rookwise or bishopwise, and no lion-capture. (Standard hex chess king)
  7. a. Pull the pawns back one rank and add one more.
  8. b. Pull the pawns back one rank and delete one, centering the remaining three on the rank.
  9. c. Get rid of pawns completely. The short-range pieces make them a bit unnecessary.
  10. d. Switch the positions of the rook and bishop. This allows bishops to bypass the initial pawn line.
  11. e. Switch the positions of the rook and knight. This allows rooks to develop faster.
  12. f. Mix and match from 4a/4b, and 4d/4e. Seems to me a 4b+4e combination would let every piece except the king move immediately.

Final Comments

I haven't played this game yet! Consider yourself warned.

I am really interested in getting feedback about this. Email comments, criticisms, or complaints to (email removed contact us for address) .com.

Written by Philip John Brady. Diagram by Philip John Brady. HTML conversion by David Howe.
This is an entry in the Contest to make a chess variant on a board with 38 squares.
WWW page created: February 2, 1998.