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Variant Pages

Magi - A Chess Variant

My proposal for a chess variant is called Magi. Before introducing the rules for my variant, I would like to give full credit to the imaginative people at and especially some people named David Howe, Eric Bentzen, John William Brown, and Fergus Duniho. 


                | BR |:BN:| BB |:BA:| BQ |:BK:| BW |:BB:| BN | BR |  10
                |:BP:| BP |:BP:| BP |:BP:| BP |:BP:| BP |:BP:| BP |   9
                | BD |::::|    |:BP:|    |::::| BP |::::|    |:BD:|   8
                |::::|    |::::|    |::::|    |::::|    |::::|    |   7
                |    |::::|    |::::|    |::::|    |::::|    |::::|   6
                |::::|    |::::|    |::::|    |::::|    |::::|    |   5
                |    |::::|    |::::|    |::::|    |::::|    |::::|   4
                |:WD:|    |::::| WP |::::|    |:WP:|    |::::| WD |   3
                | WP |:WP:| WP |:WP:| WP |:WP:| WP |:WP:| WP |:WP:|   2
                |:WR:| WN |:WB:| WA |:WQ:| WK |:WW:| WB |:WN:| WR |   1
                   a   b    c     d   e     f   g    h    i     j

Normal Initial Board Setup

  The game is played on a 10x10 board. Each player has a King, 12 Pawns, 2 Rooks, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights, 2 Dukes, an Archbishop, a Queen, and a Wizard.  The initial piece setup is shown in the picture depicted above. WP = White Pawn, WN = White Knight, WB = White Bishop, WA = White Archbishop, WQ = White Queen, WK = White King, WW = White Wizard, and WD = White Duke. Likewise, B(x) = the corresponding Black pieces.
= a colored square and if the square has :letters:, then it is a square occupied by a piece.  

Piece movements

In this game, the King, Queen, Rooks, and Bishops all move (and capture) as they do in Classic Chess.


In general, pawns act much as they do in Classic Chess. Pawns may move only in a forward direction except when capturing. The pawns that are on the third and eighth ranks (located at squares D3, D8, G3, and G8 at the beginning of the game) can move 1 or 2 squares forward on their first move. All other pawns can move 1,2, or 3 squares forward on their first move. Afterwards, pawns are allowed to move only one square forward every time the pawn moves, unless the Pawn performs a capture move.   If a player moves his / her pawn one or two squares on the first move, they still may move their pawn only square forward (unless performing a capturing move) from then on. Pawns are not allowed to jump or move over pieces that are in its path on its first move.

Pawns capture opposing pieces in a diagonal move as they normally do in Classic Chess.  Pawns can perform a standard Classic Chess En Passant capture move of their opponents' pawns if their opponents move their pawns from their original positions to either the 4th or 5th ranks - if Black, or to the 6th or 7th ranks - if White.

Additional clarifications of En Passant captures are needed in this game. If a player moves his or her Pawn two or three squares forward on that Pawn's initial move, and the opposing player is in possession of 2 Pawns that are "doubled up"on a file that is adjacent to the file of the recently moved Pawn, then the opposing player has the following options regarding how to react to the Pawn move:  

If the player playing White moves a Pawn forward to the 5th rank (or 6th rank if playing Black), and the opposing player has Pawns on the 4th and 5th ranks (if White) or the 6th and 7th ranks (if Black) on an adjacent file, then the opposing player can capture the Pawn with either of his/ her Pawn's on the adjacent file in an En Passant manner. 

Example #1: White has an unmoved Pawn on the C2 square and Black has doubled Pawns on B4 and B5 :

If White moves his / her Pawn to C4, then the B4 pawn can capture only by En Passant methods only. However, the pawn on B5 can capture as a Pawn normally would in Chess. If White moves the Pawn to C5, then either the B4 or B5 Pawn can capture the White C Pawn, but they can do so only by the En Passant method.

  The same moving and capturing principles hold if players has "tripled up" pawns on adjacent files. If White has a Pawn on C2 and Black has Pawns on B4, B5, and B6, then if White moves his / her Pawn Three squares, the Black Pawns on B4 and B5 can capture via En Passant, while the B6 Pawn can capture by normal means.  If the tripled up pawns are on B3, B4, and B5, then only the B4 and B5 pawns can capture the opposing pawn. 

In the case of the D and G pawns, opposing players can make En Passant captures of these pawns if they have pawns on either the 4th or 5th ranks (if Black) or 6th and 7th ranks (if White).  For example, White has pawns on the C6 and C7 squares and Black moves her D8 pawn forward one square to D7. White can capture the D pawn with the C7 pawn En passant or can capture normally with the C6 pawn. If Black moves her pawn to D6, either the C6 or C7 pawn can capture via En passant. 

Promotion of Pawns

Pawns may promote to pieces when they reach the last rank on the opposing side of the board as in Classic Chess. Pawns may be promoted to a Queen, a Duke, a Rook, a Bishop, a Knight, an Archbishop, or a Wizard.


 Dukes can move 1 - 3 squares in a horizontal or vertical direction.

The Archbishop

(or Iman): Can move either as a King (one square horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), or as a Bishop in Classic Chess.

The Wizard

The Wizard can move (1) one square horizontally or vertically, (2) jump as a Knight in Classic Chess - or (3) jump 2 squares diagonally. Therefore, the Wizard can control 5-16 squares. A Wizard therfore combines the moving powers of a Wazir, an Alfil, and a Classic Chess Knight. 


The King can execute a castle move as in Classic Chess, but when the his Majesty castles, he moves 3 squares in the direction in which he is castling instead of two squares. Therefore, if the White King castles "kingside", he moves to to the I - 1 square, while the kingside Rook at J -1 moves to the H - 1 square. If the King castles to the "queenside", he moves to the C - 1 square, while the queenside Rook at A - 1 moves to the D -1 square. For the Black King, castling "kingside" means moving to the I - 10 square, while the kingside Rook moves to H - 10. Similarly, castling "queenside" means moving to the C - 10 square, while the Rook moves to D - 10.  All other rules regarding castling are the same as the are in Classic Chess.

Object of the game

Players play for two types of outcomes. Players can choose which outcomes they will play for at the beginning of the game.
  1. Players can play for the same outcomes as Classic Chess. If they do, then the rules concerning Wins, Losses, Draws, and Stalemate are the same as Classic Chess. 1 point is at stake.
  2. Alternately, players can play for 4 points per game instead of 1 point as in Classic Chess. The following outcomes are possible in 4 point games: 

    If a position arises during the course of the game where a player can claim a Bare King victory but wants to try for a Full Victory, then the player with the advantage in material must declare whether they will accept a Bare King Victory or whether they intend to play for the Full Victory.  If the player who is playing for a Full Victory fails to achieve the Full Victory, then the game is a DRAW. 

    These rules, all coupled together, will replace the draw by insufficient checkmating material except for instances where each player captures all of his / her opponents pieces. 

One of my overriding goals with this game is to cut down on boring draws and part of this effort means bringing about more potential outcomes. Bringing out more potential outcomes can lead players to try different ideas depending on their goals going into games and during games themselves. If players do not feel comfortable with these new outcomes, they may play for standard outcomes as in Classic Chess. By giving players the choice of playing for alternate outcomes, I hope to make Magi  a more varied and interesting game. 

Views about the pieces of Magi

Value of Pieces

Players who show interest in this game may want to know what relative piece values are when compared to pieces in Classic Chess. As far as I can tell through playtesting, I would have to guess that pieces have the following (relative) values: Pawns: 1 point
Knights: 2.5 points
Dukes: 3.5 points
Bishops: 3.5 - 4 points
Archbishop (Iman): 4.5 - 5 points
Wizard (Magi): 5.5 - 6 points
Rooks: 6 points
Queen: 11 points

Observations of Magi

Magi will feel somewhat like a normal game of Classic Chess to players, with the main difference being that a game will take anywhere from 30 - 100 moves to complete. A typical game will take an average of 50 - 80 moves to come to a conclusion.
Written by Neal Meyer.
WWW page created: April 9, 2003.