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This page is written by the game's inventor, Sergey Sirotkin.

Espionage Chess

This variant I give on Hans 41th birthday.


The game is conducted by rules of orthodox chess with the following changes.

The initial arrangement is:

Setup White:
King f1; queen d2; spy e2; rook a2, g2; cannon b1, d1; bishop c1, c2; knight b2, f2; pawn a3, b3, c3, d3, e3, f3.
King b7; queen d6; spy c6; rook a6, g6; cannon d7, f7; bishop e6, e7; knight b6, f6; pawn b5, c5, d5, e5, f5, g5.


The spy moves as queen. The spy can be captured only in a move after it has made a capture. I.e., when a spy has not moved, or when a spy has made a non-capturing move, then it cannot be captured in the next move.

The Cannon moves as rook, but only 4 fields (R4). A cannon can and must capture by shooting through a piece, (effectively: jumping) i.e. if on ways of a cannon within the limits of four fields there is an intermediate piece and a piece the cannon wants to capture, then the cannon can jumps across the intermediate piece, captures the piece and lands on the square of that piece. Note that the cannon must jump when it makes a capture, but it cannot jump when it makes a non-capturing move.

There is no castling. Pawns cannot make a double step on their first move, and hence there is also no en passant capture.

All other rules are as in orthodox chess.

Questions on the rules and answers

  1. Q: On what squares to pawns promote?
    A: Pawns promoted: white - on 6 rank, black - on 2 rank. Probably, it would be logical that pawns promoted on the ranks on which the basic pieces placement.
  2. Q: May pawns promote to Cannons and Spies as well as the more usual pieces?
    A: Yes. Pawns can promote to Cannons and Spies too.
  3. Q: Are the white Pawn on the A file and the black Pawn on G file stuck except for a capture once they have moved forward one square?
    A: Yes. It probably is their tragedy. They can be moved only one square, and if they can not capture, will stay on a place. It is possible to offer variant with Berolina pawns. It was more convenient on such board.
  4. Q: Because of its scoring algorithm, Zillions gives the Spy the same point value as the Queen. I'd like to tinker with this, but if the Queen is worth 9 points, how many points would you say the Spy is worth?
    A: Spy is an artful piece. It moves as the queen, but is not vulnerable for captures actually, if only does not wish to become a victim. It can cover the pieces from attack. It is neutral wall, while itself does not attack. It can penetrate into an arrangement of an enemy deeply. Therefore its power should be more the queen's power. I think that it can have 10 points.

Written by Sergej Sirotkin. Edited by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: January 19, 2001. Last modified: February 14, 2001.