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Thirty-Nine Squares Chess

Thirty-Nine Squares Chess, or TNS Chess is a chess variant, invented by Andy Kurnia in June 1998, for the contest to design a chess variant on 39 squares.



Board is checkered (kings start on black squares) and hexagonal-shaped, however all cells are squares.

Starting Position

- Starting position is: [FEN: k/nfn/1wfw1/7/7/7/1WFW1/NFN/K]

Small diagram

9       k       black
8     n f n
7   . w f w .
6 . . . . . . .
5 . . . . . . .
4 . . . . . . .
3   . W F W .
2     N F N
1       K       WHITE
  a b c d e f g

Large diagram

  9             |*K*|
  8         |*N*|*F*|*N*|
  7     |:::|*W*|*F*|*W*|:::|
  6 |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
  5 |   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |
  4 |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
  3     |:::| W |:F:| W |:::|
  2         |:N:| F |:N:|
  1             |:K:|
      a   b   c   d   e   f   g



  • All pieces move as they capture.
  • A kNight moves L-wise, like chess Knight.
  • A Ferz moves diagonal one square, like XiangQi's Guard.
  • A Wazir moves straight one square, like Renniassance Chess's Fox.
  • The King moves like Wazir or Ferz, like chess King.

The King

  • The King is allowed to move into check or ignore checks.
  • The King can be captured.
  • Checkmating the King wins.
  • Moving the King into a checkmated position, will make you lose the game if your opponent's move does not release your King from checkmate, i.e. the game does not end immediately, rather, it may or may not end after your opponent has replied.
  • In particular, your King can legally check or capture your opponent's King, or even deliver checkmate if your King is guarded!


  • Promotion zone is at the last three rows, consisting of only nine squares.
  • A promotable piece may promote upon entering or moving within the zone; it may not promote upon leaving or moving outside the zone.
  • Promoting is optional.
  • Promoting the King instantly wins!
  • The King cannot promote when moving into check, but it can promote when moving into checkmate, in which case the player still wins: this rule takes precedence over checkmate. This should only happen when the King flees from check.
  • A Ferz promotes to chess Bishop.
  • A Wazir promotes to chess Rook.
  • A Knight promotes to a Paladin, that moves like a Knight or King.
  • A Bishop promotes to a Horse, that moves like Bishop or Wazir.
  • A Rook promotes to a Dragon, that moves like Rook or Ferz.
  • A Paladin promotes to Castle, that combines Dababba, Knight, and Alfil.
  • A Horse promotes to a Tiger, that moves like Horse or Knight.
  • A Dragon promotes to a Lion, that moves like Dragon or Knight.
  • A Castle promotes to an Elephant, that combines Castle, Rook, and Bishop.
  • Neither a Tiger, a Lion, nor an Elephant promotes.


  • Captured piece is held in-hand by the captor.
  • A piece may only be held in-hand for at most three turns, thereafter it must be re-dropped. Example: White captures something in his 6th turn, he must drop this piece on his 7th, 8th, or 9th turn.
  • When you drop you also make a move. Dropping is not instead of a move.
  • Dropping takes place after the move.
  • You may drop multiple pieces in the same turn.
  • You may not drop the piece you have just captured in the same turn.
  • Pieces in-hand may be dropped into any empty square.
  • A captured promoted piece reverts back to Ferz, Wazir, Knight, or King.
  • You may not change the type of the piece, so:
    • Ferzes, Bishops, Horses, and Tigers are dropped as Ferzes,
    • Wazirs, Rooks, Dragons, and Lions are dropped as Wazirs,
    • Knights, Paladins, Castles, and Elephants are dropped as Knights,
    • the King is dropped as a King.
  • Whenever there are two Ferzes, a Ferz and a Bishop, or two Bishops, owned by the same player on board, they must be on different-colored squares. If you capture a Horse while the opponent already has a Bishop on a white square, you may only drop the Ferz on a black square. If you have two Ferzes in hand you can drop them both in the same turn, but one must be on a white square and the other on a black square.
  • A dropped piece does not change its color, unlike Shogi.
  • A King can be dropped in a square where checkmate is already arranged. You can win by dropping your opponent's King in your hand right in the checkmate net you have set up.

Graphical Movements of the Pieces

A piece promotes to the piece at its right.

x x x
x K x
x x x

                                      x   x
x   x       \   /       \ x /       x \ x / x
  F           B         x H x         x T x
x   x       /   \       / x \       x / x \ x
                                      x   x

Ferz       Bishop       Horse         Tiger

                                      x   x
  x           |         x | x       x x | x x
x W x       - R -       - D -         - L -
  x           |         x | x       x x | x x
                                      x   x

Wazir        Rook        Dragon       Lion

  x   x       x   x     x x x x x   x x x x x
x       x   x x x x x   x       x   x \ | / x
    N         x P x     x   C   x   x - E - x
x       x   x x x x x   x       x   x / | \ x
  x   x       x   x     x x x x x   x x x x x

Knight       Paladin     Castle       Elephant


Sources of Pieces

  • The King's movement is just like in Chess, in Shogi, as well as many other variants.
  • The Ferz, the Wazir, and the Knight are three basic atoms. The Knight is also in Chess. These names are found in csipgs chess.
  • The Bishop and the Rook are from Chess and Shogi. These represent a common rule in some large Shogi variants, that a short-range piece promotes to a long-range one that moves in the same directions.
  • The Paladin is an upgraded Knight. At least in a once-popular game. Its movement is taken from Dragon Chess, a three-dimensional chess variant.
  • The Horse and the Dragon, of course these are from standard Shogi.
  • The Castle is another Renniassance Chess piece.
  • The Tiger, the Lion, and the Elephant are made up. However, their names were taken from Jungle or Shou Dou Qi, where these are the top three pieces.

Sources of Inspirations

  • The board is checkered. This is from Chess.
  • All pieces move as they capture. This is from Shogi.
  • The King. This is my original idea: checkmate wins, but checks can be ignored.
  • Promotion. This is from Shogi, however since the pieces promote multiple times it is necessary to forbid the promotion upon leaving the zone.
  • Promoting the King wins. This is a variation of a rule in many other chess variants utilizing a "thorne square" where the King, upon its arrival on his counterpart's starting position, wins the game. An example is from Drawless Chess. Since there are nine squares, instead of one, I found the rule "the King cannot promote when moving into check" necessary.
  • Drops, this is another Shogi element. However, that the piece does not change its color, is my idea. It is therefore needed to introduce the three-moves countdown rule, as otherwise players will never drop a captured piece back. Why three, because it is half the number of non-King pieces in each army.
  • That dropping pieces does not take your move, is just my idea to encourage captures.
  • That Ferzes and Bishops must be on different-colored squares, is another of my idea after reading the Bishops Conversion Rule found in some games.
  • King drop mated, this is another of my original idea, that seems to work well with the three-moves rule.

This is a submission for the contest to design a chess variant on a board with 39 squares.
Written by Andy Kurnia. HTML-conversion and image by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: June 22, 1998. Last modified: October 30, 1998.