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Grasshopper chess

A piece that is very popular with inventors of fairy chess problems is the grasshopper. This piece was invented in 1912 by the well known fairy chess problem composer, T.R. Dawson. The piece was inspired by the cannon from Chinese chess. In the 1950s, J. Boyer from France, who invented many chess variants, invented a chess variant, where grasshoppers play an important role.


The game is played on a normal chess board. In addition to the usual pieces of chess, the players each have additionally eight grasshoppers, who are positioned in the opening setup on the second and seventh rows. Pawns are placed on the third and sixth rows.

The opening setup is as follows:

King e1; Queen d1; Rook a1, h1; Knight b1, g1; Bishop c1, f1; Grasshopper a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2; Pawn a3, b3, c3, d3, e3, f3, g3, h3.

King e8; Queen d8; Rook a8, h8; Knight b8, g8; Bishop c8, f8; Grasshopper a7, b7, c7, d7, e7, f7, g7, h7; Pawn a6, b6, c6, d6, e6, f6, g6, h6.


A grasshopper moves as a chess queen, but must jump exactly one piece (which may be of either color) when it moves, and it stops, directly at the square after the piece it jumped. For instance, the following moves are legal from the opening setup:

1. G h2-h4, G c7-a5. 2. G h4 x e7

Note that grasshoppers capture by moving to the field on which a hostile piece is positioned: pieces jumped by a grasshopper are not captured. (See the example above. The second move of white captures the grasshopper on e7, but does not capture the pawn on f6.)

A pawn moves as a usual pawn, but does not have an initial double step. Pawns can promote to queen, rook, bishop, knight, or grasshopper.

All other pieces move as in orthodox chess. Other rules are as in usual chess.


One can play this game with a orthodox chess set, and checkers pieces for grasshoppers.


The game was described in R. Wayne Schmittberger's New Rules for Classic Games and in Pritchard's The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants.

Written by: Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: November 15, 1995. Last modified: February 18, 2020.