The Chess Variant Pages



Jean-Louis Cazaux (March 2001)


Even bigger ! This is a chess variant with 20 different pieces on a 14 x 14 board: such a board was used by some maharadjahs in old India. They are 196 cases and 48 pieces per side which give almost the same density than for Orthodox Chess.

In Gigachess one will find again all 13 kinds of men encountered in Shako , Tamerlane II and Perfect 12. The new 7 are the Amazon (Queen+Knight), the Marshall (Rook+Knight) and the Cardinal (Bishop+Knight) so often used in chess variants, the Crossbow is the diagonal version of the Cannon, the Machine is the orthogonal counterpart of the Elephant and the Buffalo is terrific leaper combining the powers of Knight, Camel and more.

In addition to these officiers, animals or weapons, there is a new improved Pawn : the Corporal whose inclusion here gives some interesting battle arrangements. Like a Pawn, it moves but cannot capture forward and gets a promotion on reaching the last row. Its difference is that it can move diagonally forward, advancing or capturing.



Initial Setup


The board is a 14 x 14 checkered squares with a white one at the right end of each player.

There are 48 pieces per side:

  • 2 Crossbows, 2 Cannons, 2 Camels, 2 Ships, 1 Buffalo, 1 Lion, 1 Gryphon, 1 Amazon, 1 Marshall, 1 Cardinal on 1st row,
  • 1 King, 1 Queen, 2 Princes, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights, 2 Rooks, 2 Elephants, 2 Machines on 2nd row,
  • 6 Corporals on 3rd row and 14 Pawns on 3rd and 4th rows.

The white King is placed on the center of the second row on a black square, the black King being on a white square. The Queen is also placed on the center, beside the King. The Amazon is just behind the King. On the 1st row there is the "animal side" with Gryphon, Lion, Buffalo from inside to outside, and the "knighted side" with Amazon, Marshall and Cardinal in this order. On 3rd row, Corporals occupy the six central columns.

Moves And Captures

  • King, Queen, Bishop, Knight and Rook are orthodox.
  • Pawn: the Pawn is almost similar to FIDE Chess. There are two differences:
    It can advance one or two square from ANY position on the board. However, its capturing move is unchanged: one square diagonally forward. As a consequence, the en-passant capture is possible every time an opposite Pawn (or Corporal) has advanced two squares. (This is like for Perfect 12 chess. It allows the Pawn to reach the opposite side in 5 or 6 steps which is comparable to Orthodox Chess)
    When the Pawn reaches the last row it simply promotes to an Amazon.
  • Corporal: the Corporal is an improved Pawn:
    It can advance one or two square from any position on the board and its capturing move is one square diagonally forward.
    The improvement is that the Corporal can also advance 1 step diagonally forward. (So, with or without capturing).
    The Corporal can take en-passant every time an opposite Pawn or Corporal has advanced two squares.
    When the Corporal reaches the last row it promotes to an Amazon.
  • Amazon: strongest piece on the board, it combines the move of Queen and Knight. It was used in the Turkish-Indian Grand Chess (as a Giraffe).
  • Marshall: it combines the move of Rook and Knight. It can be found in many, many chess variants since Carrera, Bird, Capablanca and many others like Grand Chess or Gothic Chess. (under many other names: Champion, Guard, Empress, Concubine, Chancellor, etc. The later is sometimes preferred, however it is confusing since Capablanca used it once for R+N and once for B+N).
  • Cardinal: it combines the move of Bishop and Knight. It can be found in many, many chess variants since Carrera, Bird, Capablanca, Modern and many others like Omega or Gothic Chess. (under many other names: Centaur, Minister, Equerry, Janus, Archbishop, Princess, Chancellor, etc.).
  • Lion: the Lion is inspired (although with some simplification) by Chu Shogi, the most popular variant of the Japanese Chess. This game is also played on a 12 x 12 board and was mentioned as long ago as the twelfth century and therefore predates modern Shogi by centuries. In this game, the Lion may move as a King (a single step move in any direction), or it may jump to a position two squares away, jumping in any orthogonal or diagonal direction, or alternatively jumping as a Knight in orthodox chess. (Then this Lion has the same range but is more restricted than the Lion in Chu Shogi which can move 2 times in a turn).
  • Gryphon: this piece comes from the Grande Acedrex, which is described in one of the very first game books in Western Europe appeared in 1283, under `editorship' of the Spanish King Alphonso X. This Libro del Acedrex contains many rules of old games.
    The Gryphon moves one square diagonal, followed by an arbitrary number of squares horizontal or vertical. It is authorized to go only one square diagonal. It may not jump over other pieces, and the unobstructed path must start with the diagonal movement.
  • Ship: moves one square diagonally and then, goes away of an indefinite number of cases vertically, never horizontally. It can move one square diagonally only. It can not jump and must begin its move with the diagonal step. It can be considered as an half-Gryphon. The Ship is also used in Tamerlane 2000.
  • Camel: a well known piece since medieval muslim great chess like Tamerlane's Chess. It jumps to the opposite case of a 2x4 rectangle, like an extended Knight. No matter what intermediate cases contain. Note that it always stays on the same color of square.
  • Buffalo: combines the leaps of the Knight (3x2), the Camel (4x2) and the Zebra (4x3). The latter is a fairy piece used by problemists for compositions.
  • Cannon: borrowed from Xiang-Qi, the Chinese Chess. It moves like a Rook and needs an intermediate piece between itself and its victim to capture it. The Cannon jumps the intermediate and takes the victim on its square. The intermediate is left unaffected. (Also known as Pao by problemists)
  • Crossbow: also known as Vao, it is like a diagonal Cannon. It moves like a Bishop and needs an intermediate piece between itself and its victim to capture it. The Crossbow jumps the intermediate and takes the victim on its square. The intermediate is left unaffected.
  • Elephant: it is a modern extension of the Elephant found in Shatranj. It moves 1 or 2 cases diagonally (combines Fers+Alfil). It can jump over the first case if it is occupied. This form is also used in other games from the same author like Shako and Tamerlane 2000.
  • Machine: it is a modern extension of the Dabbaba found in Tamerlane Chess. It moves 1 or 2 cases orthogonally (combines Wazir+Dabbaba). It can jump over the first case if it is occupied.
  • Prince: this piece is simply a non-royal King. It can be found in medieval games like the Courier chess , an old chess variant, played in Germany, where it is called "Man". It moves one square in an arbitrary direction, like the king, but without being hindered by check.

Castling: there is no castling in Gigachess.

End Of Game

Victory is obtained when the opposite King is checkmated.

All other types of endgame (pat, perpetual check,...) are classic.

Pieces Value

Zillions gives these average values, normalized to 5 for the Rook :

Pawn: 0.8, Corporal: 1.2, Camel: 2, Elephant: 2.2, Knight: 2.2, Machine: 2.4
Prince: 2.5, Crossbow: 3.3, Bishop: 3.4, Ship: 4.5, Cannon: 4.9, Rook: 5
Cardinal: 5.5, Buffalo: 5.9, Lion: 6.7, Marshall: 7.1, Gryphon: 8.1, Queen: 8.3
Amazon: 10.4


Gigachess is the latest and most complex stage of a series:
10 x 10 board: Shako
11 x 11 board: Tamerlane 2000
12 x 12 board: Perfect 12
14 x 14 board: Gigachess

The zrf for Gigachess is available from here.

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Written by Jean-Louis Cazaux.

WWW page created: March 28, 2001.