The Chess Variant Pages Menu


Black's doing well... the White King's back on the board...

"Hmm, Black's doing well..."
"Perhaps. The White King is revealed, but has it cost too many Black pieces to find it?"

  • Intrigue is a Chess variant, which shares the same tactical challenges, but uses them as the occasion for a more deceptive, psychological contest.

  • The enemy's king is in hiding. One pawn knows where -- but which one? How does the enemy think?

Strategy Issues
  1. The most important pieces on the board are both pawns, one white, one black. When captured, they each reveal their King's location. But which pawn is your enemy protecting?
  2. Information, not even piece-advantage or position, is the real currency of the game. Predictions must be made; information and disinformation traded.
  3. An unusual, or unexpected move could be a sudden, significant change of strategy -- or just a trick.
  4. Setup commits each player to their prefered style of play: bold or subtle. Positioning the king and pawn offers a huge variety of options -- which once decided, must be lived with. Strategy could be discussed for hours.

Rules Of Engagement
  1. At the beginning of the game each player writes the name of a square (e.g. E1, F8, B3) on a piece of card, and places it face-down in clear view, so it cannot be seen or changed. This square is the location where that player's king is hiding -- it may be any square on the board. The king starts the game, not in its normal square (which remains empty), but off the board. The queen may commence from the kings square if she desires.
  2. One pawn from each side is marked on its base so that it can be recognised when captured, but not before. The pawn with the mark knows the location of the king, and is called the 'informer'. It may be placed in any normal pawn's position at the start of the game, and behaves no differently to any other.
  3. When a player captures a pawn, they may wish to check its base for the mark (it is their own fault if they do not; the King does not return unless discovered). The player whose informant has been captured must surrender the card stating the location of their king, and the king returns to the board at this point. Any piece occupying its square is removed from the board. The king may now be threatened in the normal manner.

Appendix: Special Cases
  1. If any pawn reaches the opposing end of the board, and is removed and replaced with a higher ranked piece, it may not be inspected, but is retained by its owner. If this pawn is an informant, the king is now safe, (the opposing player need not know that) although stalemate may still result in a draw, and inability to move may still force a resignation.
  2. A king, if it reappears on the same rank or file as one of its rooks, and satisfies the general conditions of castling (neither piece can have moved, and the king must not be in, move into, or move through check) may castle from any distance by moving the rook adjacent to the king, and jumping the king over it.
  3. A king which appears on top of the opposing king wins the game, unless it finds itself in checkmate, in which case the game is drawn. If the king appears adjacent to the opposing king, this results in both kings being 'in check', but only one having the opportunity to move. The newborn king (glory to him, so to speak) has the initiative. If it may capture the enemy king without placing itself 'in check', then the game is won. If not, it must move away, out of check. If it cannot, it is checkmated.

Written by Nigel Chapman. Web page posted by David Howe.
WWW page created: 11 Dec 2000. Last modified on: 11 Dec 2000.