The Chess Variant Pages

Geodesic Chess

By Jack Cheiky



Geodesic Chess is played on a GeoBoard: a spherical grid of hexagons and pentagons. GeoBoards can map a sphere in as few as 32 spaces or in hundreds, thousands, and even millions of spaces. Most games played on a grid or a map can be adapted to the GeoBoard. GeoChess Basic is played between two players on a #9 GeoBoard consisting of 272 spaces. 

Each player starts with 55 pieces; 1 King, 3 Queens , 6 Rooks, 6 Templars, 3 Obelisks, 15 Squires and 21 Pawns. There are versions where terrain is introduced and the movement of pieces is affected.

There are fifteen Squires and twenty-one Pawns in Geodesic Chess-Standard. Along with the Obelisk, they comprise a complete circular front-line in their starting positions.  


In Geodesic Chess the King, Queen, and Rook move in exactly the same manner as in traditional hexagonal Chess. Pawns, Bishops, and Knights have been altered, and new pieces have been introduced.


On a GeoBoard, both a diagonal and a row (rank or file) go all the way around the board and back to the same exact spot, except where a path is blocked by an obstacle.

There will always be twelve pentagon-shaped spaces on any GeoBoard. In Geodesic Chess Basic these spaces are part of the playing field. A pentagon disrupts the normal path of a piece moving on either a row or a diagonal. For this reason, any piece may move onto, but not across, a pentagon in a single move. Moving on and off a pentagon must be done in two separate moves.

The triangular area that falls between any three pentagons is called a Section. There are always 20 Sections on a GeoBoard, regardless of its size (10 Sections per hemisphere, or Side.) On a GeoBoard there are many spaces. Geodesic Chess compensates for this by using more power pieces and by allowing for quicker advancement in rank by lesser pieces.

Notation in Geodesic Chess is simple and intuitive. Each of the twelve pentagon spaces is assigned a letter; A, B, C, D, E, F, for one player's side of the GeoBoard, and U, V, W, X, Y, Z, for the opponent's side. The Center Space of any Section is named after three pentagons surrounding it. For spaces that fall on the diagonals between two pentagons, simply count how many spaces from each. (Note: c1a2 is the same as a2c1, and can be written either way.) To notate the spaces that radiate out from a pentagon, count the spaces then note the two pentagons on either side. Example: Q a1c2 x P b1c2.


Players start on opposite sides of the GeoBoard. One player is selected randomly to begin.


The movement of the King, Queen and Rook are the same as in established variants of hexagonal chess, such as the one created by H. D. Baskerville in 1929. 

   The King may move one space in any direction, either by row or by diagonal. The King may not move into or through check. The King may not move diagonally over a row protected by an opposing piece, but may it move diagonally between two spaces protected by opposing pieces, as the diagonal exists separately from the spaces in question. The King's Starting Position is the center hex space in its Home Territory .    

   The Queen moves as many spaces as it wishes in any direction, by row or diagonal, given it is not blocked by another piece. There are three Queens in Geodesic Chess-Standard and their Starting position is shown above.


   The Rook moves as many spaces as it wishes along a row only. There are six Rooks in Geodesic Chess-Standard. They all start form the six hex spaces that are partially inside the King's Home Territory , defined in the Rules section.


   The Obelisk is confined to the Kings home territory. It cannot capture opposing pieces, nor can it be captured. Its sole purpose is to guard the King by blocking attacking pieces. The Obelisk cannot leave the home territory. If a King is forced into Exile (see the Rules), it leaves the protection of the Obelisk. The Obelisk moves one space in any direction. There are three Obelisks in Geodesic Chess-Standard. They start from the three black pentagon spaces at the corners of the King's Home Territory .


   The Templar is a combination of the traditional Knight and Bishop. The most important thing to know about the Templar is that, while it doesn't have the long-range movement of the Queen and Rook, it is a formidable piece in close quarters. The Templar moves three spaces diagonally, or two spaces forward and one to the side. There are Six Templars in Geodesic Chess Basic. They are positioned next to and in between the rooks. Together, the Rooks and the Templars form a solid ring around the King and Queens .


   The Pawn moves in a forward direction only, one or two spaces, and captures on a forward diagonal. Whereas a Pawn in traditional hexagonal chess has only one forward direction, a Pawn in Geodesic Chess has a choice of three. When a Pawn makes it first move from its starting position on the board, it may move one, two, or three spaces.  The center hexagonal space of each Section of the GeoBoard has a North-South indicator line to help distinguish what is a forward direction for a Pawn. When a Pawn has crossed the entire board and moves onto the opposing player's Home Territory, it may be traded for any higher-ranking piece.


   The Squire moves like a Pawn, in one of three possible forward directions, and captures on a forward diagonal. The Squire may move one, two, or three spaces on any move. When a Squire captures a higher-ranking piece, it has the option of assuming the rank of the captured piece.  When a non-promoted Squire has crossed the entire board and moves onto the opposing player's home territory, it may be traded for any higher-ranking piece.  


Each King has a Home Territory where it is best protected. If a King is forced to flee its Home Territory , it is then in Exile, and may not return there. The Home Territory are the nineteen spaces that fall inside or partially inside the Section a player's pieces start from, including the three black pentagon spaces at the corners.


2004 Jack Cheiky