The Chess Variant Pages



          Narrow Chess represents a sort of halfway point between Oblong Chess and the various versions of One-Dimensional Chess. It is played with 10 pieces on a side on a 2 by 20 board. The object of the game is to mate your opponent's King, or to stalemate your opponent.

The Board and Setup

 a |Q|R|D|P| |P| | | | | | | | |p| |p|d|r|q|
 b |K|R|D|P| |P| | | | | | | | |p| |p|d|r|k|
                      1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

  K  =  King       D = Dragon
  Q  =  Queen      P = Pawn
  R  =  Rook

The Pieces

          The King, moves as in orthodox chess; additionally, it may make a non-capturing Knight's leap any turn that it is not in check. There is no castling.

 |>|*|*|*|>|  *  =  Move and/or take
 +-+-+-+-+-+  >  =  Move only, and not when in check
 | |*|K|*| |

          The Queen and Rook move and take as in orthodox chess.

          Pawns move and take as in orthodox chess, but do not have the standard initial two square move. Instead, on any turn, a Pawn may make a non-capturing two square jump forward. Since this is a true leap like a Knight's (or a Dabbabah's), there is no en-passant capture, and a piece of either side may be jumped over.

 | | | |+| |  +  =  Only when taking
 +-+-+-+-+-+  >  =  Move only
 | | |P|>|>|

In the unlikely case that a Pawn reaches the back row, it promotes to an Angel, which is a combined Queen/Dragon.

          Dragons are the combined Knight and Pawn from Fairy Chess. They may make the two square forward leap at any time, just like a Pawn, in addition to a normal Pawn's or Knight's move. They do not promote.

 |*| | |+|*|  *  =  Move and/or take
 +-+-+-+-+-+  +  =  Only when taking
 | | |D|>|>|  >  =  Move only

Other Rules

          A stalemate is a win for the player who can still move. All other rules are as in orthodox chess.


          I also considered a Bishop that could move a square diagonally, then could move another square diagonally in a direction 90 degrees from the first, repeated until as desired or until reaching one end of the board or until encountering another piece:

   |B| |*| |*| |
   | |*| |*| |*|

They would have occupied a rank between the Dragons and the Rooks. Experimentation showed that it was powerful, but easily blocked by friendly pieces. This made it a strong defensive piece, but a weak offensive piece. Attacks are already hard enough in Narrow Chess -- it needed additional defensive boost like a hole in the head. I later noticed that these pieces were essentially identical to a piece Ralph Betza invented in 1996, called the Crooked Bishop.

          The Dragon was chosen as a relatively mild upgrade of the Knight in order not to have its movement too limited by the narrow board. The diagonal Pawn's capture turned out to be useful too, giving the piece something of the Bishop's role. A Dragon and a King can mate or stalemate a bare King on this board.

          The King's extra move was based on various old forms of Chess where the King got to move as a Knight once in the game (unless it had been checked) as an alternative to castling. It was added to allow the King to bypass blocked pairs of Pawns. With the addition of the double leap forward for Pawns, that was not any longer a problem, but it had turned out to speed up the game nicely in cases where it was necessary for one side to move the King up fourteen or so squares in the endgame, without really making the King that much harder to hunt down.

          The Pawn's two-square leap forward was added to avoid the amount of blockage a pair of head-to-head Pawns created on the narrow board.


Betza, Ralph, "Return to the Golden Age of Open Games", The Chess
Variant Pages, 1996.

Bodlaender, Hans, "Oblong Chess", The Chess Variant Pages, 1998.

Bodlaender, Hans, "One-dimensional Chess Variants", The Chess Variant
Pages, 1996.

Good, Benjamin, "Piececlopedia: Dragon", The Chess Variant Pages,

Parlett, David, THE OXFORD HISTORY OF BOARD GAMES, Oxford University
Press, 1999.

Written by Peter Aronson.
WWW page created: August 25, 1999.