The Chess Variant Pages

The Piececlopedia is intended as a scholarly reference concerning the history and naming conventions of pieces used in Chess variants. But it is not a set of standards concerning what you must call pieces in newly invented games.

Piececlopedia Guidelines

by Fergus Duniho, Piececlopedia Editor

Here is a set of guidelines for writing a piececlopedia entry. It is broken up into the various sections you should include in an entry, with an explanation for what should go in each entry. The more you can complete the entry yourself, the better your chances of getting it on the site. When an entry still requires lots of work, I may put it off or just decline to put it up.

First of all, you should read the How you can help, which describes the general guidelines for submitting pages to this site. You should also read about the Preferred html-form of contributions. This page provides you with a couple templates, but one is geared for descriptions of games, and the other is for pages at the root level. Instead of these templates, you should use this template, specifically for Piececlopedia entries. It is important to use a template, because the headers and footers of each webpage are generated by CGI scripts, and you should include the proper references to these scripts on each page. You should never save an HTML file from our site and use it as a template, because it would include the content generated by the header and footer scripts for one particular page instead of calling the scripts themselves. Except for the first line of the template, uppercase words stand in for places that you should fill with appropriate content.

Download Piececlopedia Template

For examples of this format, I recommend looking at the pages for any original or regular chess pieces: King, Queen, Rook, Bishop, Knight, Pawn, Ferz, or Alfil.

Historical notes

Include a detailed description of the piece's history, especially if it is a historical piece. Recent pieces will have a shorter history, but it is still important to answer these questions:

  • Who invented the piece?
  • When was it invented?
  • Was it invented for a specific variant or for fairy chess problems?
  • Has it been used mainly in Chess variants or in fairy chess problems?
  • What games has it been used in?
  • What names has it gone by?

It will be especially helpful to include links to any games it is used in that are described on this site.

If a piece has not been used in any games or published fairy chess problems, you should not submit an entry for it. The Piececlopedia is for pieces with some kind of established history. If your entry doesn't explain what that history is, it might not go up.


Describe how the piece moves. Try to explain it in terms that will apply equally well to square boards and hexagonal boards. Describe how it moves well enough for a blind person to understand how it moves. In other words, describe its movement without any aid of a diagram.

Movement Diagrams

Include a diagram, perhaps with some explanation of what is happening in the diagram.

It would be preferable to use a screenshot as a diagram, so that you can include an ASCII diagram in the ALT text. Screenshots can be made from Zillions of Games or from the Game Courier system at this site. Game Courier also includes the ability to produce ASCII diagrams.

When making a diagram, be sure to choose a suitable piece image. Upside-down and sideways Chess pieces are generally unsuitable. If you can't find a suitable image for the piece, you may ask Fergus Duniho or David Howe about adding an image for it to either the Abstract piece set or the Alfaerie piece set.

Vocabulary: [Word]


In this section, you would define a vocabulary word that is of special relevance to the piece you're describing. You should use the piece to elaborate on the meaning of the term, as well as use this part to add to your explanation of the piece. The vocabulary word should be one that hasn't been defined on another Piececlopedia page.

This section may generally be left to me, though you may wish to do it yourself.


This site has various graphic piece sets in the Graphics directory. Include images of the piece from sets that include it, linking each image to its full set. It is generally good to put multiple images into a table.


If you have drawn information about the piece from any books, you should mention them here. It will be most helpful if you will link each title to its page at

You should generally use this format:

Surname, First name. Book title, year of publication.

WWW page created: December 21, 2001.