The Chess Variant Pages

Pi - the Chess Game of the 21st Century


Why did we name this game Pi (better written down by the corresponding symbol of the Greek alphabet (HB))? The 16th letter of the Greek alphabet, Pi is an internationally recognized symbol evoking images of circles and spheres. Pi takes the traditional game of chess and turns it into a fast-paced circular free-for-all involving as many players as you can fit in the room!

Alliances, handicaps, team play, unlimited number of players, and an infinitely varyable playing field combine to transform chess into an entirely new, fast-paced, exciting game.

The playing area of this game comes in curved and straight sections (straight sections are sold separately) so that more players can be accomodated by simply adding more sections. There is no limit to the number of people who can play Pi at the same time. Rent a stadium and invite a few thousand friends!

Feel free to experiment with board layouts and playing options. Some possible options are laid out in Optional Rules of Play; use your creativity and imagination to come up with your own shapes!

Pi lets you play chess recklessly and with flair. Keep the action moving by planning your moves while waiting for your turn to play. Be courageous, take risks! After all, with two sets per player, the loss of a piece becomes less of a tragedy.

Above all, HAVE FUN!

Vocabulary and Terms

Board Segments - Curved boards marked with 64 spaces alternately coloured light and dark.
Board Transitions - Crossing from one board segment to another according to specific rules. See Optional Rules of Play.
Expansion Board - Rectangular boards usually used in conjunction with the curved segments to accomodate more players. Sold separately.
File - Column of 8 spaces running in an arc around the curved board segments. For instance, a pawn makes itŐs move up a file.
Format - Structure of the playing field, which may be open or closed. See Optional Rules of Play.
Pieces/Chessmen - Each player controls 16 pieces of various capabilities which make up each of their sets.
Player - Person controlling one or more sets of pieces.
Playing Field - Entire area of potential play. May consist of any number of curved and/or rectangular board segments.
Ranks - Rows of spaces across a board segment, perpendicular to the files.
Spaces - Small curvilinear rectangles on each board segment. Although they vary in size, each one is equivalent to the squares on a conventional chessboard.
Set - Group of sixteen pieces controlled by one player. A player may control one or more sets.
Team - Two or more people playing together in an alliance.

Getting Started

Contents: The Pi game box contains 4 curved game boards, 8 sets of chess pieces, a Quick Instructions sheet and the instruction manual (similar to this page) - everything you need to accomodate up to 8 players. If any piece of the game is damaged or missing, just write or call us and we'll send you a replacement piece free of charge.

Number of Players: 2-8

2 players: Two people can play on two board segments (2 sets each) or on four board segments (4 sets each).

3, 5, 6, 7 players: Use the full playing field, with each player controlling sets according to his/her ability. See Alliances and Handicapping below. With 6 players, the best way to play is with a Pi expansion kit (2 straight boards and 4 sets of pieces, sold separately).

4 players: This is the basic setup. Using the full field, each player controls two sets positioned back-to-back at the start.

8 players: Each player controls 1 sets. Teams may be formed, each team having two players.

Rules of Play

How to Play.

Number of Sets:Single Set Format: In the single set format, allied sets are placed back-to-back. Each player must defeat the opponent on his board segment before moving on to another segment. Double Set Format: Each player controls 2 sets of pieces. They should be different shades of the same colour (i.e. light blue and dark blue). The sets are placed back-to-back at a junction between two segments. The dark set is on the clockwise side of the junction, (refer to that figure 2!).

To start: players draw for the first move. In single set format, only light players draw. In double set format, all players draw, the winner moving with his/her light set. His opponent moves his dark set, and play proceeds.

Each player gets one move for each King he has. When a King is checkmated, the mated player loses one move per round. In single set format, that person is out of the game. Refer to Section E.

Winner: The only person with any Kings remaining. In teams, each player can have his King remaining, and the team wins regardless of whether one partnerŐs King has fallen.

Check and Checkmate: You can, believe it or not, be checked by several players at once. If necessary, you can forman instant alliance with another player, who would then remove the check. Otherwise, youŐre by yourself! A checkmated king is removed from the board by its owner as a move on his following turn. There is a point scale under development that is not official. Currently, a player gets 6 points for a checkmate achieve solely by himself. 3 points each to 2 players working together. 2 points to each of 3 plyers who execute the mate jointly. Resigning is permitted: One can concede defeat of a set and remove the King from the board on his turn (again, as a move, then that move is lost forever).

Draw & Stalemate: Only possible with two players left by either agreement or repetition of position.

Captures and Castling rules are similar to regular chess.

Section E - Alternate Rules of Play

Moves per round: 3 possible ways (maybe more): All can be used throughout the game, and it is not necessary to stick to a single one.

Checkmate options: When mated, a player with only one set leaves the game, and:

If a player owns more than one set, he can remove the defeated king and: These rules should be determine prior to beginning the game, and should not change in mid-game.

En Garde procedure: When a player is checkmated, the checkmating player must say "en garde!" before moving to other segments. This gives warning to other players to prepare additional defences to the new enemy.

Board segment transitions: A piece can transcend the entire board in one move if unblocked. Be aware of long-distance attacks from behind if you use this, especially if an opponent checks your King from behind! A piece can also be limited to one segment, and cannot cross another border until the next move.

Alliances: Permanent alliances are like team play: they do not attack each other (including no checks) for the entire game. Temporary alliances can be formed between two players eying the same objective (like checkmating a weak opponent. These can be dissolved at any time using the "en garde!" procedure. If the allied Kings are on adjacent spaces, the withdrawing player must move the King away first (the Stab in the Back; use with caution!). A player can lend pieces to an opposing player for a specified amount of time (number of moves) or purpose (mating an opposing King). This can be dissolved at any time, and attack the former ally using the "en garde" procedure. One can be an ally to two players! Very complicated, and I omit this.

Handicapping: Some experienced players may use one set, others use two sets. Otherwise, experienced and inexperienced players can team up.

This set of rules was sent to me by Bryan Lambert. Pi is a commercially available chess variant for multiple players. A website with ordering information (and more information on this colorfull chess variant) can be visited via the following link:
Written by Bryan Lambert, with final paragraph and html-editing added by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: April 23, 1999.