The Chess 
Variant Pages

Chancellor Chess

In 1889, the book Chancellor Chess, written by the American Ben Foster appeared. In this 80-page book, the author describes his new invention, a chess variant with the same name, called after the Chancellor, a piece that has the combined moves of rook and knight. The piece was not new at that time (already in 1617 it appeared as the Centaur in an Itailan work by Pietro Carrero), and Foster gives in his book indeed some historic backgrounds.

The book got some attention at the end of the 19th century; among others, there was a small problem composition competition, and later Samuel Loyd also contributed some problems featuring a chancellor.

Feelings on the new game were mixed, but overall the reaction of chess authors was negative, as they felt that one should try to change the perfect game of chess. The game was soon forgotten, but is occasionally revived. Among others, it is mentioned in the book of Gollon, and in issue 11 (Summer 1993) of Variant Chess.

See also:


Players have, in addition to the pieces they have in a normal chess game, one extra pawn and one chancellor. The game is played on a nine by nine board, with black squares in the corners.

The opening setup is as follows:



Chancellors have the combined moves of knight and rook. Pawns are also allowed to promote to a chancellor when they arrive at the last row. When castling (under the same conditions as in orthodox chess), the king moves two squares and the rook moves three squares (whether castling to the left or to the right). All other moves are as in usual chess.

A variant: Modern Chancellor Chess

Malcolm Horne proposed a variant (mentioned in Variant Chess), where the game is played on a 9 by 8 board. This has as advantage that the pieces of players meet each other sooner. Also, the setup is changed: white has his chancellor on g1; between the bishop and knight, and black has the setup mirrored: his queen is on f8, and his chancellor is on c8.

Written by Hans Bodlaender. David Paulowich pointed out an error in the opening setup; David Howe added the Chancellor Chess book to the website.
WWW page created: February 25, 1997. Last modified: December 4, 2000.