The Chess Variant Pages




New Chancellor Chess Variants

David Paulowich ((email removed contact us for address) .net) invented a new variant of Chancellor Chess. Chancellor Chess was a chess variant, invented in the end of the 19th century by Ben R. Foster.

The game is played on a 10 by 8 board, with a black corner at each player's right hand. David Paulowich describes his variant as follows:

Take a standard chess board (with the standard 32 pieces) and add one column to its left side and another to its right side. Place four Chancellors in the corners, which are now designated a1, j1, a8, j8. Place four more Pawns: a2, j2, a7, j7. The Kings and Rooks can still castle in the usual manner. This variant gives players the option of following traditional chess openings as far as they can reasonably be taken. The King's Gambit Accepted seems a fascinating choice:

  1. f2 - f4 f7 - f5
  2. g2 - g4 P x P(g4) and so forth ...

(End of quote.) A Chancellor is a piece that has the combined moves of a rook and a knight (just as the queen has the combined moves of a rook and a bishop.) As an additional rule, one should play that pawns may also promote to Chancellor, i.e., when promoting a pawn, the player can choose from Chancellor, Queen, Rook, Knight, and Bishop. Thus, the choice to what piece to promote often gets less obvious, as a queen and a chancellor are of about equal strength.

Here you see the proposed setup:

White:
King f1; Queen e1; Chancellor a1, j1; Rook b1, i1; Knight c1, h1; Bishop d1, g1; Pawn a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2, i2, j2.

Black:
King f8; Queen e8; Chancellor a8, j8; Rook b8, i8; Knight c8, h8; Bishop d8, g8; Pawn a7, b7, c7, d7, e7, f7, g7, h7, i7, j7.

David Paulowich remainder of his email to me is also interesting, and is given below:

I found some info in Fred Reinfeld's "The Treasury of Chess Lore" (1951). In a 1937 issue of Chess Review, Barnie F. Winkelman referred to an advertisement in the October, 1898 issue of The American Chess Magazine. This was for Ben R. Foster's book "Chancellor Chess", which introduced a new piece, moving like either a Knight or a Rook, on a new board of 9 squares by 9 squares. I do not know if this account has a misprint for the year 1889, or if we should conclude that the book was still being sold nine years later.

Other chess variants can be played on this board. First remove the four Chancellors, shifting the Rooks over to replace them. Then fill the empty squares b1, i1, b8, i8 with Archbishops (or Januses) pieces which can move either like a Knight or a Bishop. Now we have a mirror image of Janus Chess, a game originally created with the White King to the left of the White Queen and with a white corner square at each player's right hand. As in the previous game, each Knight protects two Pawns in the opening setup. But in this game there are four unprotected Pawns at b2, i2, b7, i7. Capablanca's Chess can also be played ... this time try the usual opening setup, even though the board we are using has opposite coloured squares from Capablanca's board. In this game the Pawns at c2 and c7 are left unprotected in the opening setup, which has Chancellors at d1 and d8, plus Archbishops at g1 and g8.

One way to manufacture a reasonably cheap plastic set for all three games would be: make a set with 20 Pawns and 8 Rooks. Make four small pieces that snap on top of the Rooks, changing them to Chancellors. Make four more small pieces that snap on top of the Rooks, changing them to Archbishops. I prefer to reserve the "unicorn" modification of the Knight for a Nightrider, rather than an Archbishop (Janus).

Author's note (July, 1998)

This material represents my first ideas on placing Chancellors on the chessboard. Later I decided to give up a WHITE Rook and a BLACK Rook in order to put Queens and Chancellors on the usual 8x8 board. This makes a big change from the traditional game - all the excitement and variety I was looking for.

But some people may wish to use all the "combination pieces" - including the Archbishop (B+N) and the Amazon (R+B+N). These two were used in The Emperor's Game in 1840, but the Chancellor was missing. All three pieces can be added to a 10x10 (or even a 10x8) board. My advice to game designers is:

  1. give up a WHITE Rook and a BLACK Rook
  2. be very careful where you place your pieces - just as I had to abandon the traditional "Rooks in the corners" setup, you may decide to place the Queens and Chancellors somewhere other than the corners.

Written by David Paulowich, (email removed contact us for address) .net; introduction by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: March 17, 1997. Last modified: November 16, 1998.