The Chess Variant Pages

Play by mail
Tempete sur l'Echiquier

Here you find rules, that enable two players to play Tempete sur l'Echiquier by mail. `Tempete' is the original French version of the Knightmare Chess, which is now published by Steve Jackson Games. It is a game where a chess game is influenced by the play of cards.

The rules were made with the following ideas:

  • Disable easy cheating.
  • Give little work to `the referee'.
  • Smooth play.
  • There are some differences between this play-by-mail game and the face-to-face game; for instance, it is possible that both players pick the same card. However, these differences are minor.

I hope it works. This has not been tried out yet.

See also:

Note that you must have the cards and rules for `Tempete' for the following rules to make sense. Rules for Knightmare Chess by mail will follow in the future, but I have not yet received a set of that game.


  1. The rules of Tempete sur l'Echiquier are used, except when stated below. Some additional rules, that govern the speed of play, time complaints, etc., should be used, e.g., the NOST postal chess rules.
  2. A list of the numbers of cards that are used is made. This list consist of numbers 1 to 72, with the exception of numbers 11, 22, 71, 72 . However, players may before the game starts agree on a different list. The total number of numbers on this list is called N in the remainder of this rules. Note that when the players use the list, discussed here, N= 68
  3. At the start of the game, each player makes a random permutation of the numbers of the cards that are used, and sends this list to the referee. (Alternatively, the referee makes two different random permutations of these numbers, and sends them to the referee, or, perhaps easier, the players send a random list of all the cards that are used in the game to the referee.)
  4. This list is kept secret by the referee, but he sends after the conclusion of the game the lists to both players, such that after the game, players can see the list of their opponent, but not during the game.
  5. Before the game starts, each player sends 5 random numbers between 1 and N to the other player. Now, when a player receives number i, then he takes the card, belonging to the i'th number (card) on the list he has sent to the referee. These five cards are the initial hand picked by the player.
  6. Players can send during the game three kinds of game messages:
    1. Moves. A move consists of (optional) playing a card, (The player must have this card in hand), a move of a chess piece on the board (following the rules of chess, possibly changed by cards played), and sending some numbers that tell the other player what cards to pick (see rule ...).
    2. Interceptions. After the move of an opponent, the player can play a card, that he has in hand, and can be played during the move of the opponent. When intercepting, a player does not send his next own move with the interception, but first wait till the answer to the interception. An interception does not contain numbers that tell the intercepted players which cards to pick to fill his hand to 5 cards.
    3. Answers to an interception. When intercepted, often a player must make a different move, or his move cannot be carried out. In the former case, the answer to the interception contains this different move. The answer to the interception can also contain the playing of a card (e.g., a `NO' card). In all cases, the answer to the interception contains one number to tell the intercepting player which cards to pick to fill his hand to five cards (i.e., the replacement of the intercepting card.) (See rule ...) After the answer to an interception, the player that intercepted makes a move.
  7. When a player receives a move of the opponent, he responds either by an interception or with a move. When a player receives an interception, he responds with an answer to an interception. When a player receives an answer to an interception, he responds with a move.
  8. At the end of ones turn, when the opponent has at that moment less than 5 cards in hand, the player sends one or more, namely as many as the opponent must pick cards to have again 5 cards in hand, random numbers between 1 and N. One may not pick a number that one has picked earlier in the game. Again, when a player receives number i, he takes the card, belonging to the i'th number (card) on the list he has sent to the referee.
  9. When a player plays a card, this is always announced to the opponent (as should be expected.)
  10. At the end of the game, players can verify that their opponents indeed used the cards they were entitled to. When a player has played a card, that he was not allowed to play because he had not received the corresponding random number from the opponent, he loses the game. For this reason, it is best that players note down each move: the move, the card play, the numbers received and sent, the cards picked.
  11. For the following cards, the rules are modified:
  12. 11
    This card is not used.
    You send the name of the square to the referee. The referee tells the square-name to the players after the game, for verification purposes.
    When intercepted by a card that tells you to make another move, the opponent should state with the interception whether this affects the first or second part of the move. In case of the second part, you must make a different second move with the knight. In case of the first part, you have the following options: make two knight moves, the first one different from your original move (possibly with the same or the other knight); make one normal move and keep this card in hand (now the opponent knows you have this card); make one normal move and discard the card.
    This card is not used.
    You send the name of the square to the referee. The referee tells the square-name to the players after the game.
    32, 42, 52
    When you play a card that disables a card of your opponent for a move that disables his move, then your opponent makes a normal move, and play continues as usual. (Other cases are hopefully clear.)
    Play this card at the start of your turn. You may add a card that your opponent played during your last turn or during his turn to your hand. (This could possibly result in you having this card twice in your hand!)
    Similar to card 18, but with the bishop instead of the knight.
    Play this card after a turn you lost a piece, not a pawn, in a normal way. You may choose a card you have not yet played before, and add it to your hand. You send the corresponding list-number to your opponent; he may not send this number to you anymore, just as a number he has picked before.
    This card is played as interception.
    This card is not used.
    This card is not used.
  13. The game ends when a player is mated and cannot intercept the mating move, lifting the mate, or when a player resigns, or when the referee decides that a player has lost the game due to time. When after the game, it is found out that a player has played a card he was not entitled to play, or a different square than told to the referee for cards 12 or 28, he loses the game, even if the opponent resigned or was mated. In case of such an error and a loss on time, or when both player have made such an error, the game is a draw.
  14. The referee may in no case inform players about the list of numbers of the opponent before the game is ended. He may also in no case inform others about the lists of numbers of the players before the game is ended. The same holds for the squares that players send him when playing cards 12 or 28. This is highly experimental! Please send comments to Hans Bodlaender.

Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: September 9, 1996. Last modified: September 9, 1998.