The Chess Variant Pages



The Courier Game

Anthony Dickens A Guide To Fairy Chess presents a version of chess first described in 1202 and played up until the begining of the 19th century. It was the first popular form of chess to incorporate the piece we now call the "bishop" though it was then called the "courier" (hence the name of the game) - the name "bishop" serving then for the piece we now call the "alfil". The game predates the modern queen, the queen having the movement of the piece we nowadays call the "fers". To avoid confusion with the modern pieces, the pieces in this game below use the most modern terms and symbols that are different from modern pieces where the moves are different.

Pawns move one square ahead, and capture diagonally ahead just as modern pawns do, but they lack the initial double-step option and therefore do not pass en passant:

Rooks move as in modern chess, any number of squares orthogonally:

Knights, too, move as in modern chess, leaping to the opposite square of a rectange 2 squares by three in any orientation:

The alfil (then called the bishop) is a leaper like the knight, but jumping to the opposite corner of a 3x3 array of squares - thus having the effect of leaping over the nearest square to the next nearest on the diagonal:

The bishop (called the courier, but here represented as the modern bishop) moves normally, any number of squares diagonally:

The "man" was simply a fighting king, and had the same movement, one square in any direction:

The king, too, moved normally, one square in any direction:

The queen had not yet evolved her modern move, she moved as a fers, which is represented here. It could move one square diagonally:

The wazir moved one square orthogonally, like a single-step rook:

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Written by Larry Smith.
WWW page created: February 22, 1999. Last modified: March 14, 2000.