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Relativistic Chess

Dr Cliff Pickover wrote a large number of books. In his book Mazes for the Mind he describes, amongst many other things, a number of chess variants. One of these variants is Relativistic chess, invented by Kevin Whyte of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Chicago, together with Lee Corbin.

Pickover's website can be found at


The rules of orthodox chess are followed with the following change: squares, which are attacked by your opponent do not exist for your pieces, except for your king.


Consider a rook that attacks a pawn, see below.



Now, the pawn cannot move. All squares to which the pawn could move are considered not to exist, so the pawn cannot move at all in this position.

In the next example, the bishop attacks the pawn. However, all squares between the pawn and the bishop are considered not to exist, so the bishop is considered to be one square diagonally from the pawn, and hence the pawn can take the bishop.




Kings are not affected by this `relativistic' way of moving, i.e., a king just moves one square in any direction. This is because otherwise mating would be too hard: kings would just step over the squares in between.

The rules do not state exactly the way knights move. One could assume a knight moves one square orthogonally, and then one square diagonally, skipping again attacked squares.

Written by Hans Bodlaender, based upon information by Cliff Pickover.
WWW page created: April 4, 2000.