The Chess Variant Pages


John Montagna invented the game Superchess: while the name is not very original (in Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, six games are mentioned with the name Superchess or Super Chess); here `Super' has a different meaning from the other games: it doesn't mean `superior, larger, better', but more `on top of': some pieces are placed on top of rooks with special moves. This gives a chess variant, that is related to orthodox chess, but gives new strategic possibilities. Montagna wrote a booklet on the game `Superchess Basics', and you can email him for more information.

The main idea of Superchess is: Pieces can move on top of a rook, either a friendly rook, or one of the opponent. Then, the moves of the rook are also available to the piece.


copyright 1995 by John Montagna

Superchess is played like the game of Chess with the addition of a new type of move.

  1. By a standard Chess move, a Chess piece may move to and occupy a rook. This is done by placing the piece on top of the rook*.
    Restrictions: A rook may not occupy another rook. A king may not occupy a rook or castle with a rook that is occupied.
  2. Because it is in a superior position on top of the rook, the occupying piece is called a superpiece or, specifically, a superqueen, superbishop, superknight or superpawn.
  3. The new, combined piece of a superpiece and a rook is called an occupied rook. Specifically, it is called a queen-rook, bishop-rook, knight-rook or pawn-rook. It may move either in the manner of the superpiece or in the manner of the rook.
  4. One may occupy an opponent's rook. This is called hostile occupation. One's superpiece then controls the move of the opponent's rook, combining it with its own. The rook under hostile occupation is called a queen/rook, bishop/rook, knight/rook or pawn/rook.
  5. A superpiece may leave the occupying position to move independently from a rook, but a rook may not move independently while a superpiece occupies.
  6. A capture may be of a superpiece only. Capture is at the occupying position where the capturing piece becomes the new superpiece.
  7. A capture of an occupied rook or a hostile occupation results in both the superpiece and the rook being removed from play. Capture of a rook under hostile occupation sacrifices one's own rook.
  8. In a hostile occupation, one could use the opponent's rook to give check to, or stop a castle move of the opponent's king.
  9. A superpiece may not leave a hostile occupation if the opponent's rook is then in a position of check to the king.
  10. To promote, a superpawn must leave the occupying position on the rook by a normal pawn move to the last rank.

*The only specific requirement for Superchess is a Chess set with a suitable design of rook that would allow another piece to be placed upon it. "

The rook as tower or fortress:

"The basic idea of Superchess is centered around the simple concept that a rook may be occupied, like the manning of a tower or the fortifying of a castle. A piece occupies a rook by moving to and then being placed on top of the rook. In essence, the game of Superchess offers four new positions of play on the chessboard... the rooks. "

The occupied rook:

"The occupying of one's own rook in Superchess results in a new kind of combined playing piece that is called an occupied rook. Depending on the piece that moves to the rook, the new occupied rook in Superchess will be a queen-rook, bishop-rook, knight-rook or pawn-rook. As their combined names imply, these new pieces combine their moves. For example, a knight-rook moves like a knight or like a rook, and a pawn-rook moves like a pawn or like a rook."

Hostile Occupation:

"When one occupies an opponent's rook, or when an opponent occupies one's own rook, the result is a combined piece that is called a hostile occupation. In a hostile occupation the piece that occupies the rook then controls the move of the rook for its own forces. In a hostile occupation the new pieces are called a queen/rook, bishop/rook, knight/rook or pawn/rook (the 'slash' in the middle indicating 'hostile control' of the rook)."

"To gain an occupation of one's own rook is an advantage in Superchess, but to gain a strategic occupation of an opponent's rook could, if not countered, devastate the opponent. To play for a hostile occupation becomes a standard element of strategy in Superchess.

"By the rules of Chess one cannot move into check. As all the rules of Chess apply in Superchess, one's superpiece may not leave a hostile occupation if the opponent's rook will be left in a position of check to one's king.

"Hostile occupation can result in two other unusual situations. super/rook could use the power of the opponent's rook that it controls to give check to the opponent's king. In the same way, it could also stop a castle move. "

The superpiece:

"The name Superchess derives from the fact that the occupying piece is actually placed in a superior position on the rook."

"When a piece occupies a rook it becomes a superpiece and is then called, specifically, a superqueen, superbishop, superknight or superpawn. A superpiece can move in three ways:

  • As part of an occupied rook, it moves with the rook.
  • As part of a hostile occupation, it moves with the opponent's rook under its control.
  • It can leave the occupying position to move independently from the rook."

"The importance of all these types of new moves is in the new strategic possibilities that they create. A manoeuvre of an occupied rook always includes the possibility of the superpiece separating for more strategic possibilities."


"The play of Superchess will include strategies to gain occupying positions. One such strategy will be to capture only the occupying superpiece of an already occupied rook, and to take its position by doing so. As well, a superpiece may directly capture another superpiece. Capture in this way is from occupying position to occupying position. Any capture of an occupied rook or a hostile occupation will offer the choice of capturing both pieces or of capturing the superpiece only."

Playing the new moves of Superchess:

"In Chess, to play the castle move is a factor of strategy and timing. A castle move by either player can affect the whole character of play. In some games the castle move is not even possible as players may try to limit the opportunity of an opponent to make a castle move at all.

"Just as the timing of a castle move is very important, so too is the timing for an occupying move. Just as some Chess games will have no castle moves, so too some Superchess games will have no Superchess moves. Just as a castle move may greatly affect the play of the game, so too will the new Superchess moves."


An occupied rook:

QR queen-rook
BR bishop-rook
NR knight-rook
PR pawn-rook

A hostile occupation:

Q/R queen/rook
B/R bishop/rook
N/R knight/rook
P/R pawn/rook

A superpiece:

oQ superqueen
oB superbishop
oN superknight
oP superpawn


o occupies
xo captures superpiece

A Sample Superchess Game

1. e4 e5
2. d4 ed
3. c3 dc
4. Nxc3 Bb4
5. Bc4 Nf6
6. Nf3 o-o
7. e5 Ne4
8. Qc2 Nxc3
9. bxc3 Bof8
10. o-o Brc5
11. Bof1 Nc6
12. BRd3 g6
13. Bg5 Qe8
14. Bf6 d6
15. Ng5 Nxe5
16. BRe4 h6
17. BRh4 Ng4
18. Ne4 BRf5
19. Be7 BRe5
20. Re1 oBxh2 +
21. Kh1 Boe5
22. Nf6 +
22. ... oBxf6 (!)

With capture of the knight by the superbishop, black has essentially won the game.
The immediate threat of mate is not alleviated by:

23. Rxe5 as black replies with 23. ... doe5.

Any attempt by white to protect the rook leads to a devastating onslaught to the bishop-rook or its superbishop on h4, therefore:

23. Resigns "

Written and copyrighted by John Montagna; introduction by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: December 13, 1996. Last modified: January 21, 2002.