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.

The Piececlopedia: The Rook-Knight Compound

Empress, Marshall, Chancellor

Historical remarks

Chancellor from Camaratta Chess

This piece has a long history and has been called by many names. Some of the earliest names for this piece are Champion and Dabbabah, but these two names are currently the accepted names for two other pieces. The Champion is a piece in the commercial variant Omega Chess, and the Dabbabah names the historical piece it was more commonly used for. The three most widely used names for this piece are Empress, Chancellor, and Marshall.

Empress is the standard name for the piece among fairy problemists. This name is used as the favored name in both Dickin's Guide to Fairy Chess and The Oxford Companion to Chess. The rationale behind this name is an analogy with the Queen. This piece, the Queen, and the Bishop/Knight compound are the three main compounds of the three simple pieces in Chess, the Rook, Bishop, and Knight. The idea is that, like the Queen, all three of these compounds should be named after female royalty. Since the Rook is stronger than the Bishop, this piece was considered the stronger of the two compounds besides the Queen. So it got the name Empress, while the name Princess went to the Bishop/Knight compound. One difficulty with the name Empress is that it suggests that the piece is more powerful than the Queen, whereas it seems likely that the Queen is the more powerful of these two pieces. In fact, because of the suggestion that an Empress should be more powerful than a Queen, John William Brown gave the name of Empress to the Knight-Queen combination usually known as an Amazon.

Original Chancellor from Gothic Chess

The name Marshall, or Marshal, dates back to 1840, when L. Tressan used it in The Sultan's Game. The name Chancellor dates back to 1887, when Ben Foster used it in Chancellor Chess. In the 20th century, Jose Capablanca made use of both names. He first used the name Marshall, then later changed to using the name Chancellor. Both names have also been used in well-known commercial variants. Christian Freeling used the name Marshall in Grand Chess, and Ed Trice used the name Chancellor in Gothic Chess.

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Although both names have enjoyed popularity during the last century, there seem to be a few reasons for favoring the name Marshall. First, the name Marshall has more consistently been used for this piece, whereas the name Chancellor has more frequently been used for other pieces. Capablanca used it for the Knight-Bishop compound, and Sidney LeVasseur has used it for another piece in a commercial variant called Kings Court. Second, the letter C is commonly used for other popular pieces, such as the Camel, the Cannon, and the Champion, not to mention the Cardinal, the variant piece most frequently paired with this piece. Given the popularity of this piece, it would confuse things to use the letter C for this piece too. Etymologically, the name Marshall fits a piece with Knight moves better than Chancellor does. Marshall literally means horse-servant, being related to the English word mare, meaning a female horse. One especially relevant definition of Marshall is cavalry commander. In contrast, the name Chancellor has nothing to do with horses. It comes from a Latin word literally meaning doorkeeper, and it generally refers to a head of state or to a college president. It also has some ecclesiastical definitions, which Capablanca may have had in mind when he gave the name to the piece he also called the Archbishop. Finally, for whatever it's worth, Marshall is the older name.

This table gives an overview of the history of this piece.

YearGameName of PieceCreator of Game
14th century? Shatranj Al-Kabir (Great Chess) Unknown
1617 Carrera's Chess Champion Pietro Carrera
1747 The Duke of Rutland's Chess Concubine John, third Duke of Rutland
<= 18th century Turkish Great Chess Dabbaba (War Machine) Unknown
1840 The Sultan's Game Marshall L. Tressan
1874 Bird's Chess Guard Henry Bird
1887 Chancellor Chess Chancellor Ben Foster
1920's Capablanca Chess Marshall / Chancellor J. R. Capablanca
<= 1943 Wolf Chess Wolf Dr. Arno von Wilpert(?)
1950-1975?Cagliostro's ChessChancellorSavio Cagliostro
1978 Tutti-Frutti Chess Empress Ralph Betza and Philip Cohen
1980 Renniassance Chess Nobleman Eric V. Greenwood
1984 Grand Chess Marshall Christian Freeling
1996 The Remarkable Rookies (CDA) Chancellor Ralph Betza
1997 New Chancellor Chess Chancellor David Paulowich
1997 Paulowich's Chancellor Chess Chancellor David Paulowich
1997 Cobra Chess War Machine Derick Peterson
1997 Grand Hexachess War Machine Derick Peterson
1998 Euchess Marshall Carlos Cetina
<= 1998 Chess 2000 Knight/rook Gerhard Josten
1998 Eric's Great Chess War EngineEric Greenwood
1998 Pre-Grand Chess Marshal Eric Greenwood
1998 Cavalier Chess Marshall Fergus Duniho
1999 Unicorn Chess Chancellor David Paulowich
1999 Haynie's Great Chess Marshall or Chancellor Billy Haynie
1999 Pick-the-Team Chess Chancellor Hans Bodlaender
1999 Hexmate Duke Michael A. Rouse
1999 Grand Cavalier Chess Marshall Fergus Duniho
1999 Bedlam Marshall Fergus Duniho
1999 Metamorphin' Fusion Chess Marshall Fergus Duniho
1999 Fusion Chessgi Marshall Fergus Duniho
1999 Fusion Chess Marshall Fergus Duniho
1999 Metamorph Chess Marshall Fergus Duniho
2000 Giant Chess Chancellor Köksal Karakus
2000 Perfect Chess Chancellor Köksal Karakus
2000 Terror Chess Marshall Brian Wong
2000 Turkish Chess Chancellor Köksal Karakus
2000 Trihex Marshall Marek 14
2000 The Knightliest Black Hole Duke João Pedro Neto
2000Drop ChessCardinalKey McKinnis
2000Fantasy Grand ChessMarshallPeter Hatch
2000 Blackhole Chess Marshall David Short
2001GigachessMarshallJean-Louis Cazaux
2001 Four Towers Marshall Jim Aiken
2002Abecedarian Big Chess (ABChess)MarshalGlenn Overby
2002Full Double ChessChancellorSergey Sirotkin

Movement rules

The Marshall may move like a orthodox chess Rook, or like a orthodox chess Knight.

Movement diagram

The blue circles indicate the leaping moves of a Knight, while the green circles indicate the Rook move.

diagram of chancellor move

Alternate Images

Click on an image to view the full piece set it belongs to.

Abstract Set Alfaerie Set Motif Set Alfaerie Set
Cazaux Set Alfaerie Set Alfaerie Set
John William Brown's Meta-Chess movemap

This is an item in the Piececlopedia: an overview of different (fairy) chess pieces.
Written by Fergus Duniho and David Howe.
The Meta-Chess move map was reprinted from Meta-Chess, copyright 1997, by permission of John William Brown.
Movement diagram and piece icon created from Zillions of Games.
WWW page created: February 12, 1999.