The Chess Variant Pages


an entry for the 84 spaces contest by Jörg Knappen

The name of the game

Seenschach means chess of the lakes, because of the lake in the middle of the board. It also alludes to the word Feenschach meaning fairy chess.

The board

100 - 16 = 84: The board is a 10 x 10 checkered board, with the center 4 x 4 squares removed and replaced by an unaccessible area, the lake. As usual, the lower left square is black and queens are placed on square of their colour. There are two castles consisting of the files d to g on each side of the board. The kings are not allowed to leave their castles.

The pieces

Each side has 20 pieces, 10 pawns, one king and 9 figures of 5 different species.

The Pawns

On the second rank are 10 Lia pawns. They can move one square forward or sidewards without capturing and they capture one square diagonally forward. From their starting field, they can also move two or three squares in forward direction. Capturing en passant is possible. Pawns promote to Genscher, Harvestman, Boyscout, Reflecting bishop or Hornet when reaching the last row.

Jumping pawns (Bockspringen)

If two pawns of the same colour are forming a double pawn, the second pawn may jump over the first one in forward direction, provided that the target square is empty. A jumping pawn may be captured en passant, resulting in the capture of two pawns in one strike. It is forbidden to jump into the last rank for promotion. Bockspringen is not available for the last pawn of a triple pawn.

Just to answer that question: If capturing two pawns after a Bocksprung is possible and you take the second pawn, the first one is automatically taken. There is no choice to keep it.

The Genscher

On files a and j are two Genschers. A Genscher is a powerfull colourswitching piece combining the moves of knight and panda. A panda moves like a rook, but only to the odd squares (first, third, fifth, seventh ...). It can be blocked only on a square to which it can move. It cannot move across the lake using the panda move, but it can jump over the corners of the lake using the knight move.

The Genscher is named to honour the long term german vice chancellor Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who made a famous colourswitching move in 1982.

The Harvestman (Weberknecht)

On files b and i are two harvestmen. They are special bent riders: They first move one square like a wazir and than continue as boyscouts (aka crooked bishops). They are colourswitching pieces, too. I called it Harvestman, because it is a crooked Spider (name from Scirocco).

The Boyscout (Pfadfinder)

On files c and h are two boyscouts (aka crooked bishops). They are colourbound pieces moving on a zig-zag line.

The reflecting bishop (Billardläufer)

On files d and g are two reflecting bishops. They move like bishops, but they can be reflected on the edges of the board and continue to move. A possible reflecting bishops move is from b1 via a2 to b3. Even if a full cycle is open to move for a reflecting bishop, it is not allowed to make a move which ends on the starting square.

Fine print

The mirror reflecting the bishop goes thru the middle of the edge squares. Thus, a reflecting bishop on the Seenschach board cannot move directly from d3 to c4 -- trying to do so it is reflected to c2, b1, a2, b3 finally reaching c4, if the path is unobstructed. It can pass directly from d2 via c3 to b4.

A note

Thinking of this detail, a second kind of reflecting bishop comes to my mind: A bishop which is reflected on the true borders of the board. It changes colour with each reflection, going on pathes like c2--b1--a1--a2--b3. In the late endgame a strong piece, specially when placed close to the border and a superpower on rightangular, non-square boards. Has it been invented somewhere yet?

The King (König)

On file e stands the king. It moves one square in any direction, but it may not leave its castle. It may not face the opposing king directly, the sight of the opposing king must be blocked by at least one other piece while the two kings are on the same file. There is no castling in Seenschach.

The Hornet (Hornisse)

On file f stands the hornet. It combines the moves of Boyscout and Harvestman. It can reach the same fields the Reaper from Ralph Betza's Tripunch chess can reach, but it goes there using a zig-zag path.

The aim of the game

You win by leaving your opponent without legal moves, either by checkmate or by stalemate. The game is drawn in the other cases where a FIDE chess game is drawn (insufficient material, repetition of position, 50 moves rule, mutual agreement of the players.)

Notes from the author

In the beginning was the board. It makes a natural choice for 84 squares and I wanted a game suited to that board. There should be 10 pawns and 10 figures for each team. The pawns in the middle should not be stopped by the lake, and seeing Lia's proposal I found the kind of pawn I was longing for. I added the possibility of an initial triple move and the ability of jumping another friendly pawn. The latter can be found in some four handed chessvariants.

It was clear to me, that the boyscout (crooked bishop) and the reflecting bishop should take part in that game. This makes two colourbound pieces, therefore two colourswitching ones should also be in. I choose two new ones not yet featured in any other chessvariant I know of. As a queen I first wanted the Girlscout because of its crooked nature, but it turned out too clumsy and immobile on this board. Therefore I created the Hornet for this game.

I decided to borrow the idea of two castles and the no facing rule from chinese chess. So every piece one the board has at least a fairy touch.

Since most of the pieces lack the "mating power" (the ability to give checkmate in an endgame of piece X + king against bare king) I decided to make stalemate a win. In Seenschach, it is a full win and not something lesser than checkmate.


  1. Ed Friedlanders' Java applet "Lia's proposal" on
  2. Boyscout (article in the piecoclopedia) and references to Ralph Betza's articles therein
  3. Ralph Betza: Tripunch chess on
  4. Jörg Knappen: The sweeping switchers on
  5. Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) on

Written by Jörg Knappen. Html by Hans Bodlaender.