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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 1997-04-01
 Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Dave  Reynolds. Circular Chess. Chess on a round board. (Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-09-10 UTC

Here's a wiki on the theory of Circular Chess. At one point it is claimed that 3 minor pieces can mate a lone K. I believe this is true for N+2Bs (with Bs running on opposite colours), but I cannot yet see how 2N+B can force mate normally:

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2016-08-19 UTC

Note to Fergus:

I've noticed many old webpages, including that for Circular Chess, have some sort of error message at the bottom of the page in question, and as an effect of that, perhaps, people cannot post (or even see old) Comments or Ratings for such a page. However, in the case of the Circular Chess webpage, I was able to post fresh Comments it after clicking on a 'Review' I did for Circular Chess quite some time ago, and I was then able to have the option of posting a fresh Comment for Circular Chess' webpage.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2016-08-18 UTC

I've edited my previous post slightly, most notably adding a wikipedia link for Circular Chess that I am to some extent at odds with.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2016-08-17 UTC

IMO in Circular Chess a Q ought to be worth more than 8 pawns, as in chess, where a Q is often considered worth 9 pawns. I'd (tentatively) put a Q at this value in Circular Chess, too. Note Q=R+B+P in value in chess, thus here meaning R+B=8, and I'll assume that applies to Circular Chess, too (a Q is often set equal to 3 minor pieces [B or N] in chess, too, but let's ignore that for now). In Circular Chess a lone R can't normally mate a lone K (but 2 Rs, or a Q, can) IMO, nor can two minor pieces mate (though N + 2Bs can) IMO, but a R and minor piece can mate IMO, so let's say for now it takes a minimum of 8 points worth of material to mate a lone Circular Chess K (not counting pawns).

If a R were supposed worth 6 (how often is it worth six pawns in an endgame? - in chess, 4 pawns often beat a rook in such), and a B or N were thus supposed worth just 2, this does not quite compute, if it is realized 3 minor pieces perhaps ought to be worth more than a R (which can't normally mate like the 3 minors may). Plus, how often is a R worth minor piece + 4Ps? Or 2Rs worth Q + minor piece + P? If a R were supposed worth 5.5 (and a minor piece thus 2.5, or still less than 3) then it is realized that 3 minor pieces would be worth less than 8, so that doesn't compute with the end of my previous paragraph. A rook could be set to a value of up to only 5.33, as one way to avoid this problem, however (another way is to suppose that, say, 7.5 points minimum are required to mate, and I prefer that, as we'll see later). IMO, a R should be worth at least 5, since a B seems generally no stronger in Circular Chess than it is in chess. Next, note IMO a N is at least as strong as a B in Circular Chess, except note that IMO 2Ns + B may at the least have more difficulty mating a lone K than 2Bs + N, so IMO a B seems to be at least as strong as a N after taking this into consideration, thus making the pieces worth equal value.

The question I've been beating around is, is a minor piece worth less than 3 pawns in Circular Chess? Under at least some circumstances IMHO in an endgame either minor piece can deal with or at least restrain 3 enemy passed pawns, if the pawns are all going in the same direction on the round board. It's similar if 2 minor pieces faced 6 passed pawns, with exactly 3 going in either direction. This is perhaps analogous to uncommon scenarios faced in chess endgames, i.e. with passed pawns on either wing, though in all cases a lot may depend on the positions of the kings. Thus I could hazard to put a minor piece (i.e. B or N) as worth 3 pawns (it's likely more than 2, anyway), and thus a R as worth 5, in Circular Chess (I'd note one of the quirks of chess is that 3 minor pieces are often somewhat better than 2 rooks, but in Circular Chess it seems IMHO the other way around). This matches the values many accept for chess pieces. That's in spite of being contrary to the wisdom of, say, wikipedia's entry for Circular Chess (which points out K + P vs. K is almost always a win, unlike chess, which IMHO makes up a little for other drawn basic endgames that would be basic mates in chess). For those who really dislike setting a minor piece equal to 3, I can suggest they try Q=R+B+P=9, say with R=5.5 and B(or N)=2.5, which is my favourite guess (without getting into uglier fractions) for what applies in an 'average' position, but perhaps this undervalues a Q. In any case, IMHO 2 minor pieces can be worth at least a R in an endgame, if all the R side's pawns are going just one direction, and the minors side's pawns going the opposite direction, unless either of the minors is unsafe, e.g. perhaps if they are widely seperated. Also note 2Rs vs. 3 safe minor pieces + 2 pawns going in the same direction may be hard for the Rs in an endgame. On the whole the wealth of considerations based on the terrain of Circular Chess makes it understandable that there is no consensus yet on the relative values of a R, the minor pieces or a Q, as wikipedia alludes to:

As in standard chess, IMO in Circular Chess a King (K) has a fighting value of 4, even though it cannot be exchanged.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2016-02-18 UTC
H.G. wrote:

"I don't think KRK is won on a board without corners. The bare King can just flee away from the stong King along the ring. There is no way a Rook can slow it down, if there are only four Rings: you keep attacking the Rook until it leaves the radius where you wanted to go."

I now believe you are correct, H.G. Somehow one night I had imagined a zugzwang could always be arranged even if the superior K was more than 1 file away from a cut off (by the R, to a single rank) lone K, but I was clearly up too late, and since then I neglected to check my conclusion.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2016-02-18 UTC
I don't think KRK is won on a board without corners. The bare King can just flee away from the stong King along the ring. There is no way a Rook can slow it down, if there are only four Rings: you keep attacking the Rook until it leaves the radius where you wanted to go.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2016-02-18 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I may be wrong, but so far I've concluded that in Circular Chess there are possible mating positions with a K & 2Ns vs. lone K, or with a K & B plus N (or an opposite coloured B) vs. lone K, but it seems that they are not forcible, or 'basic' mates (unlike K & Q vs. lone K or K & R vs. lone K). Also, I'm guessing that a K plus some combination(s) of 3 minor pieces (aside from 3 same coloured bishops) may be able to force mate against a lone K.

Vitya Makov wrote on 2010-04-11 UTC
Circular Chess with Boyscounts:

Anonymous wrote on 2010-04-06 UTC
You know? Probably, most of non-oficial, non-computer normal chess games are played without en-passant because most of people don't like it (or just don't know about it)... And, probably, vice-versa with circular chess :).

Vitya Makov wrote on 2010-01-13 UTC
Because I don't like to play without en-passant. :) Author of the rules didn't like en-passant, I like it. 
About null moves I wrote before. What problem with my logic in null moves allowing? Null move - is not a pass. It differs from a simple pass. 

I change it for my playing. I don't offer to change oficial rules of Circular Chess.

M Winther wrote on 2010-01-13 UTC
I don't see the point in allowing pass and en-passant. Why dismiss the rules that have been used in the Circular Chess world championship for well over a decade and that seem to work fine? Why change a functional game? 

Vitya Makov wrote on 2010-01-13 UTC
'Why allowing null moves? Isn't that just like a 'pass'?'

Yes, it's something like that. But player must have an open line, a rook or a queen for that. If you have this (Made this specially) - why not? Logically, this move is correct on this board.

My board doesn't look so pretty!

'The one game I played,
against Graeme Neatham, I was in a constant state of panic.'

Joe, it's for the first time. Rooks and Queen are so mobile. Bishops are not mobile as in Chess. If they come from one part, it's difficult to replace them to other part for attack. Rooks need an open line. I think the game is more drawish, than Chess.

My opinion on pieces:

Knight - 2 pawns
Bishop - 2 pawns
Rook - 6 pawns
Queen - 9 pawns

Joe Joyce wrote on 2010-01-13 UTC
It's a tough game. You might want a null move available. The one game I played, against Graeme Neatham, I was in a constant state of panic. In a circular game, pieces can come at you from too many directions to be relaxed about your play. One thing about the picture, I recognize the pieces. I have several of those specific small analysis sets - the tops of the rooks and the simple shape of the knight, especially around the ears, are all but diagnostic of the set. 

There aren't a lot of actual circular gameboards besides the one for Byzantine Chess. However, a very interesting circular game is found in One Ring Chess, by LL Smith.

Jose Carrillo wrote on 2010-01-13 UTC

Here is a sample picture of a circular board from Wikipedia.

I'll have to build one too someday.

Why allowing null moves? Isn't that just like a 'pass'?

Vitya Makov wrote on 2010-01-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Just made a board for Circular Chess. Decided to play:

1) with en-passant
2) with null moves allowed

Abdul-Rahman Sibahi wrote on 2007-07-08 UTC
This is not even the same game.

Anonymous wrote on 2007-07-07 UTC
The board in your diagram doesn't look like the board at this website:

Charles Gilman wrote on 2006-07-22 UTC
I have now added a reference to RT84 on my Tryzantine page.

Este wrote on 2004-07-29 UTC
The C.C.S. never responded to my enquiries, I use the Encyclopedia of Chess Variants D B Pritchard as a guide.

Ralph Peters wrote on 2004-06-29 UTC
Este thank you for your update! Can you tell me how Circular Society members record games (notation system)? I cannot find this info on the Circular Society webpages. Thank you! p.s. Am also looking for rules on 'modern Byzantine Round chess' which include the e.p., castling. (E.g., do the modern rules include 'bouncing bishops'? Since Q & R on square board can traverse the board, as well as B's, seems reasonable to me B's should bounce. Cannot find. [Perhaps this Q is not appropriate for this page, but cannot find more appropriate VARIANTS page!] Thank you again!

Este wrote on 2004-06-26 UTCGood ★★★★
Regarding Ralph Peters comment - The King & Queen most definitely start the
game on the wrong cells. The En Passant rule though is something that must
be decided by the players/society of a variant.A variant is just that, a
variant, how close or how far it is to ortho chess, is upto its creator.
En Passant was only brought in to ortho chess to cover up its main flaw.
Many variants opt to drop this rule. Your point is still a good one
though, as circular chess is supposed to be simply chess on a circular
board, therefore for that reason it should include En Passant.

Personally, I like the game its got history and it has its own adherants
today. I have a circular board, and play the game slightly differently.
You only have to play by CCS rules if you are playing in their

George Duke wrote on 2004-06-25 UTC
An interesting way to bring 'spaciousness' to the usually constricted play of round boards is Richard VanDeventer's Round Table Chess (92 sqs.) and its improvement Round Table 84--not covered under Charles Gilman's Tryzantine article. Of course, as with square boards and with rectangular boards, and with hexagonal-spaced ones and 3-D, it quickly can multiply into infinitude in combinations (of game-rules sets), each one making a game unto itself, by varying piece types, numbers and board sizes; my comments under the randomized chess Slide-Shuffle support that truism. Still VanDeventer Round boards without a 'hole' suggest whole new families of kindred variations.

Ralph Peters wrote on 2004-06-25 UTC
Michael & Jeff - Thank you for your replies and insights! 

Jeff, I didn't mean to imply only ortho rules are good, but in reading
VARIANT pages I noticed that when a variant changes board shape from
square, the designer seems to collect special and positive
mention/recognition when he imitates ortho rules/array more closely than
not.  Two such examples relating to hexagonal chess ...

'The Soviet geologist Isaak Grigor'evich Shafran created his version of
hexagonal chess in 1939 and registered his invention in 1956.  It was
demonstrated at the Worldwide Chess Exhibition in Leipzig in 1960.  For
reasons that probably have to do with marketing, despite a wave of
interest following the publication of a description in the magazine Junyj
texnik, the game has not gained the popularity enjoyed by Glinski's
variant, although it is significantly closer to orthodox chess in several
respects.'  [Ivan A. Derzhanski]

'There have been many attempts to design a form of chess for a hexagonal
field. (This site has around 50.) The most widely played is surely
Wladislaw Glinski's version (1936), on a 91-hex board.  An international
federation still exists, and the game retains popularity in eastern
Europe.  David McCooey (1979) also designed a 91-hex game, which some
maintain does a better job of paralleling its square-grid counterpart.
[Glenn Overby II]

Michael Nelson wrote on 2004-06-23 UTC
The only advantage in sticking to orthochess rules as much as possible is
to simplfy describing/learning the game. But this doesn't really apply to
complications such as e.p and castling.

It is reasonable to use e.p. if the Pawn has a double step--but it isn't
a given that the Pawn should have a double step. (It works badly on a 7x7
board, for example). 

E.P. isn't the only reasonable alternative, either. I rather like the
Nova Chess rule that prohibits a pawn from moving thru a square where it
could have been captured by another pawn if it had stopped there--this
works especially well when there are several pawn type pieces in the

Similarly, if you have castling, it is good if it is similar to
orthochess, but whether to have castling is a design decision based on the
overall character of the pieces and the game. 

But again, ortho castling isn't best for every game--free castling suits
some games better.

Jeff Rients wrote on 2004-06-23 UTC
'Isn't it accepted that in a good variant it is desirable to keep as
close as possible to ortho rules?!'

Accepted by who?  I'm not aware of any chess variant governing authority.

A brief perusal of this site will reveal dozens or even hundreds of
variants more unorthodox than Circular Chess.  

'Yet the Circular Society rules disallow en passant and castling.  
(Why are these differences necessary?'

I think the answer provided by the Society seems perfectly adequate.  I
would not expect a neophyte chess player to write a master level game. 
Nor do I see any reason to scorn simple variants.

'Sorry to jump on this, but is that really a good basis for forming
a variant's rules, basing them on the predjudices of a beginner

I think the successes of this variant (its own Society and championships)
go far in establishing that Circular Chess was soundly constructed.  Keep
in mind that the audience for Circular Chess seems to consist largely of
pub patrons, not chess fanatics.  If anything, chess variantists who want
to see there games actually played by a mainstream audience might do well
in emulating Mr. Reynolds' design approach.

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