The Chess Variant Pages

Sovereign Chess


Sovereign Chess is a two-player game played on a 16x16 board. One player is black, and the other white, but there are neutral pieces of ten other colors located around the outer edge of the board. Around the center of the board are 24 squares of color (two each of the twelve colors in the game, including white and black).

When a player's piece is on a colored square, she controls the pieces of that color. Players can control multiple colors at once, either with a number of their own pieces, or through a "chain" of pieces. For example, if the white player has her pawn on a red square, and then moves a red pawn to the green square, then she controls both red and green.

The object is to checkmate the opponent's king.


The initial board setup is seen in Figure 1 of The first player makes a move as White. The second player must then choose to either: 1. Play as White, accepting the move made by the first player, or 2. Play as Black, responding to the first player's move as White. Play then proceeds normally.


Of the 112 pieces in the game, there are:

White and Black: 16 pieces each (1K, 1Q, 2R, 2B, 2N, 8P)

Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Navy, Lavender: 8 pieces each (1Q, 1R, 1B, 1N, 4P)

Ash and Slate: 8 pieces each (2Q, 2R, 2B, 2N)


1. Pieces move like traditional chess, except:

  1. Queens, rooks, and bishops may only move up to 8 squares.
  2. Pawns move orthogonally, and capture diagonally, but only toward the center of the board (designated by the brown lines). Most pawns have two available moves, and three squares available for capture.
  3. Pawns promote to any major piece when they get inside the middle 4x4 square (with the solid black lines).
  4. A piece may never be on a square of its own color.

2. When your piece is on a colored square:

  1. You control the pieces of that color.
  2. The other square of the same color can not be occupied.

3. You may control multiples colors with multiple pieces, or with a chain of colors.

4. You may only capture pieces controlled by the other player.

5. It is possible to promote a pawn to a king, or for your king to change color. [Described in detail in the online rules]

For complete rules, go to


The key element in Sovereign Chess is controlling other armies on the board at strategic times. Some players like to control many colors with many of their own pieces, thus having more armies fighting on their behalf. Others prefer to use one piece to control different colors on different turns, thus threatening their opponent from a myriad of angles. There are as many different strategies to Sovereign Chess as there are players. Please visit for listing of a social media channels, videos describing play, and other information.


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By Mark Bates.
Web page created: 2013-03-25. Web page last updated: 2018-01-05