The Chess Variant Pages

Wizard Chess


I love to play strategy games, and European Chess and Chinese Chess rank right up at the top of my list of favorites. Having passed on my love for these games to my children, it was only natural that, when I told my oldest son Andrew about the 84 Spaces Contest, he would say "Let's enter the contest, Dad!" We had tossed around ideas for themes and pieces for our own chess variation for some time, and we finally came up with Wizard Chess (so named because of the "magical" move allowed to the Wizard-King, and probably influenced by the fact that Andrew was reading The Lord Of The Rings at the time!). We have play-tested it on various size boards and with various piece combinations and starting configurations (we even have a two level, 3D version we call Advanced Wizard Chess with flying Dragons, Eagles, and a Pegasus or two, but it exceeded the 84 spaces allowed for the current contest!) and we settled on the version that we present to you. If you like the Big Three (European Chess, Chinese Chess and Shogi) I am sure you will quickly see how we borrow from each. We hope that you will enjoy playing Wizard Chess as much as we do.


The game board is a rectangular field consisting of a grid 7 squares wide x 12 squares long, which is not checkered. The board is divided into two territories, with the border being the center of the board, between rows six and seven. The three rows where the pieces are initially placed are their respective "camps." Each space in rows two and eleven where a Warrior is initially placed is marked with an X. The Initial setup of the pieces is as follows:
	12 D C A Z A C D
	11 W G W W W G W
	10 - - H W H - -
	 9 - - - - - - -
	 8 - - - - - - -
	 7 - - - - - - -
	 6 - - - - - - -
	 5 - - - - - - -
	 4 - - - - - - -
	 3 - - H W H - -
	 2 W G W W W G W
	 1 D C A Z A C D
	   A B C D E F G


In the movement diagrams below: x=capture square, m=movement only, o=other piece

Z - Wizard (or Wizard-King): The Wizard is the King piece. The Wizard moves and captures exactly like a King in European Chess, except that the Wizard also has a special Teleportation Move. Once, and only once, during the game the Wizard can change places with any piece of his same color anywhere on the board. This move can only be made when the Wizard is not in check. The Wizard can never move to a square that would put him in check.


D - Dragon: The Dragon moves like a Queen when it is not capturing, any number of unoccupied squares in a straight line orthogonally or diagonally. To capture a piece, the Dragon must jump over one (and only one) intervening piece (it does not matter whose piece) in it's line of movement, like a Cannon in Chinese Chess. The Dragon cannot move and capture in the same turn.

	x  x  x
	 o o o	
	 o o o
	x  x  x  

C - Chariot: The Chariot moves and captures exactly like a European Chess Rook or a Chinese Chess Chariot.


A - Archer: The Archer moves one or two squares orthogonally. To capture the Archer does not move, therefore it is the only piece that captures without taking over the position of the piece it captures. The Archer can capture or "kill" any piece that is two squares away diagonally. The Archer can capture whether or not a piece is between the Archer and the capture square. The Archer has to either move or capture, he cannot do both in the same turn.

	x m x
	x m x

G - Giant: The Giant moves and captures exactly like a King in European Chess, except that he can also move and capture two squares in any diagonal direction if he so chooses.

	x   x
	x   x

H - Hero: To move, the Hero moves one square diagonally only in any direction. The Hero can capture one square in any orthogonal direction only. The Hero cannot move and capture on the same turn.


W - Warrior: The Warrior moves one square diagonally forward, except on the first move, when it can move either one, two or three squares diagonally forward. On this first move the Warrior does not need to travel in a straight line. In other words, on the first move only, the Warrior may change direction with each square traveled (or zig-zag). The Warrior captures one square straight ahead only. The Warrior cannot move and capture on the same turn.



  1. The object of the game is to check-mate the opponent's Wizard-King.
  2. Black always goes first.
  3. There is no castling and no en passant.
  4. Warrior Capture: This rule applies only to Warriors. If a Warrior is captured in it's own territory, instead of being removed from play it is placed on any of the vacant squares marked with an X in it's camp by the player whose piece it is. If a Warrior crosses the border into the opponent's territory and is captured it is removed from play.
  5. Wizard Confrontation: The Wizards can never face each other directly in the same orthogonal or diagonal file without a piece being between them. Similar to the Generals in Chinese Chess, this would be considered being in check.
  6. Promotion: If at the end of it's move, one of your Warriors, Heroes or Giants lands in the opponent's camp (the three rows where the opponent's pieces begin the game), a Warrior promotes to a Hero, a Hero promotes to a Giant, and a Giant promotes to a Chariot. No other pieces can be promoted and no piece can be promoted more than once. Promotion occurs immediately upon landing in the opponent's camp, at the end of your movement. The only exception to immediate promotion is the Dragon Resurrection rule. The promoted piece cannot move or capture until the next turn.
  7. Dragon Resurrection: If one of your Dragons has been killed and one of your Warriors, Heroes or Giants reaches the opponent's camp, the player may choose to try to reach the last row of the opponent's camp in order to resurrect your Dragon instead of being promoted. This decision must be announced immediately upon entering the opponent's camp and the piece then forfeits it's ability to promote. If the piece succeeds in reaching the last row, the Dragon replaces that piece on the board and it cannot move or capture until the next turn. There can never be more than two Dragons per player. Each Dragon can only be resurrected one time per game.
  8. Stalemate: There is no stalemate, but a draw can be declared if both players mutually agree to it.

Playing Tips

While it is true that Dragons are impressive and somewhat intimidating, don't rely too heavily on them, after all, everyone knows that Dragons can't be trusted... Don't use your Teleportation move unless you must: If you are a good player you can use it to force your opponent to nearly check-mate you twice to win. The Warriors do not tend to get stuck as easily as Pawns do, so don't ignore them. Promotion can be the key to victory, especially between evenly matched players, so promote early and often!

Computer Play

Jens Markmann has writen a Zillions of Games Rules File for this game, see the "See also" section below.


We made a board out of poster board with 1 and 1/2 inch squares. For the playing pieces we used plastic checkers with a paper circle that we cut to fit in the middle, labeled with the initial of the piece it represented on one side and the piece it promoted to on the other. It is also helpful to have a second side for the Dragon to indicate if it has been resurrected or not. We have also used icon-type drawings instead of the initials (which we want to eventually do in the Zillions of Games format).


This game was invented by Paul E. Newton and his son Andrew P. Newton. If you have questions, comments or suggestions on any aspect of the game you can e-mail us. (The email address can be found via clicking on the name of the author, given below at the page. (Editor.)) We hope to eventually work out a point-value system for Wizard Chess. If anyone would like the board layout and rules for Advanced Wizard Chess, drop me a line. I hope to have both Wizard Chess and Advanced Wizard Chess in Zillions of Games format eventually (as soon as I can figure out how).
Written by Paul E. Newton. Webpage made by Hans Bodlaender.