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Sovereign Chess. Ten neutral armies can be activated on this 16 x 16 board. (16x16, Cells: 256) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
H. G. Muller wrote on 2022-05-15 UTC

They will only be empty until an editor approves them.

Samuel Trenholme wrote on 2022-05-15 UTC

Replies like this will be empty if replying using the wrong password, or if replying as a guest. The workaround is to create an account, log in, and be sure to use the correct password.

Katie wrote on 2022-05-15 UTC

In my opinion, respect for the original doesn't matter when making a derivative of something (in this case, a chess variant). What matters most is to have fun designing it, and ideally, for others to have fun playing it as well.

Chess is not sacred, we do not need to protect it.

Ezra Bradford wrote on 2022-04-18 UTC

@piguy, the links to your rules page seem to be out of date - the rules seem to now be at You could update the links here, but a more future-proof solution might be to update your redirect, to point at the new correct page?

That's the big thing. More minor, the rules given here seem to be slightly out of date. For example the “Pieces” listing gives the pieces of the starting configuration, but this isn't enough pieces to be sure you can play a full game - there aren't any chromatic kings.

You could synchronize the rule numbering here with your “15 Rules of Sovereign Chess” on your official rules page, if you want players to be able to cite rules by number.

You might also choose to post your four-player “Sovereign Chess Royale” setup, perhaps as a second page tagged for four players, or just as a section here. It'd be cool to see it come up in searches for four-player games.

Aurelian Florea wrote on 2020-12-12 UTC

I don't see it or remember it. But all is well. Have fun with this game!...

Mark Bates wrote on 2020-12-12 UTC

I'm simply replying to a comment you made a while problem!

Aurelian Florea wrote on 2020-12-12 UTC

I'm not sure why the question is addressed to me!

Mark Bates wrote on 2020-12-11 UTC

So...Aurelian, I've been wondering. Why would someone change the rules of a game to discourage what is the key feature of that game?

Sovereign Chess is about the neutral armies, just as we live in a world with hundreds of different cultures, not just our own. When a player tries to win by just using their own pieces, they quickly get overwhelmed by an opponent who uses neutral armies wisely.

I appreciate variants of variants, but this one made me go "Hmmm...". Thanks for the suggestion!

Mark Bates wrote on 2020-12-07 UTC

As appreciation to the Chess Variants community, we are offering Sovereign Chess at a 10% discount through the remainder of 2020, if you use the discount code "XMAS2020" at

Thanks for all the great support of chess variants here!

Mark Bates wrote on 2020-12-03 UTC

How many chess variants out there use the "pie rule", where one player makes an opening move, and the other player chooses which side to play? In Sovereign Chess, I think this helps neutralize the first-player advantage. Do you agree?

Aurelian Florea wrote on 2018-08-17 UTC

While reading up again on this game as to reading some info on Facebook, I came up with a possible improvement.

I'm thinking about player gaining points for capturing enemy pieces say 1/5 or 1/4 out of the usual value (0.2,0.6,1,1.8 or 1.25,0.75,1.25,2.25) and being able the use whole point to buy pieces with the cost being the usual value. This would be  to discourage trying to control neutral armies to fast. Initial placement will probably need to change but I'm thinking within the context. Bought pieces would be of the player's color and buying occurs as a move concurrently with dropping the bought pieces adjacent to the players king (if the full move is not possible then the buying cannot take place). Is this idea good?

Mark Bates wrote on 2018-04-07 UTC

We are less than a month away from delivery of Sovereign Chess, and for those of you who have seen my self-designed, hand-painted prototypes, I am excited to show you that the production set is just as beautiful! The team at Accord International has been a dream to work with, and they have exceeded my highest quality standards for the game.

Pre-orders are available now at!

JT K wrote on 2018-03-03 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I've recently had the pleasure of playing a full correspondence game of Sovereign Chess, so I'm now ready to review.  The overall concept is excellent, and I know through conversations that the creator put much thought into all the principles of good game design.

Despite my five star rating I do need to mention a few criticisms, though they are minor - and a person could probably adjust the rules in their own house games anyway:

- I'm not sure if the colored square setup is ideal for creating a lot of different opening sequences, though I could be proven wrong in time.  Although I made a mistake in my game, I do feel that my original idea of occupying red as White was pretty strong and difficult to fight against (for whomever goes 2nd).  The pie rule was implemented to control this, but not sure how well that would pan out in practice.

- The board is 16 x 16, so it can definitely get a bid tedius to use pawns or knights in a genuinely effective way - except for defense.

- The rules about coup d'etat and pawn promotion regime change don't do much for me- and the less rules the better in my opinion.

Having said all that, Sovereign Chess has a lot of well-crafted rules.  The creator made sure that only one piece can control a color at a time, to make things easier to grasp and also prevent stagnant/stalemated positions.  Sliding pieces cannot go too far and gives knights a chance to thrive - or at least control the center.  The varient seems to have a lot of candidate moves at any given stage.  One could abandon their color, could try capturing the controlling piece, or simply attack the controlled pieces as needed.  Defection is a good "regime change" rule, where one decides to abadon his/her controlled pieces in favor of a better army color.  It's a lot of fun to determine the actual VALUE of certain pieces and colors, especially when trading.  An interesting tactic I found was actually abandoning a color to "neutralize it" and create an uncapturable wall around the king as needed.

Overall, I have to say that I'd play it online a lot if available.

Andy Bates wrote on 2018-01-27 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Is this a retail game, or a home variant?

Mark Bates wrote on 2018-01-17 UTC


Thanks for your kind comments about the game. Like many variants (and even traditional chess), there can be wild swings for players who aren't used to how the game plays. 

Probably the most important aspect is how the value of a piece changes, based not only on the type of piece, but on how it influences other armies. For example, if a white pawn sits on a red square, and if there is a red piece on an orange square, and if there is an orange piece on an ash (light gray) square--then that white pawn may be the most "valuable" piece in the game!

In playing Sovereign Chess, and watching hundreds of others play it, I think there is the same clarity as traditional chess, although many players would say that they are playing "on an extra dimension". I think the ability to control multiple armies can allow a strong player to take advantage of a mistake quickly, just like a chess GM will always annihilate a lesser player if they have a simple pawn advantage.

As for the pieces and squares, I made the pattern symmetric, and located the squares so that they were not that close to the actual color. This made it easier to create a "chain of control", like the example above.

Let me know if you'd like to play a game online to try it out. Thanks again for your comments!


JT K wrote on 2018-01-12 UTC

This is an excellent concept.  The gameplay seems to be very "sharp" with lots of big swings, with regard to who's winning, but I haven't had a chance to play it.  I would imagine the biggest challenge is in the clarity, a concept referenced by Fergus Duniho in this site's articles.  That is to say, not even the strongest players would be able to look very far ahead - but maybe that's what you wanted?  It's probably just a preference - some people like the wild swings, so I shouldn't knock it for that aspect until I try it.  This would be a really fun game to do "mate in 3" type puzzles.

Mark, how did you determine the best position of colored squares and where the colored pieces would be?

Mark Bates wrote on 2018-01-04 UTC

Sovereign Chess is in production, and pre-orders are available on our website!

This Alpha Edition of the game also includes Sovereign Chess Royale, a 4-player variant of the game. Rules will be uploaded to soon...

Mark Bates wrote on 2015-03-09 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I have had a few people ask me about adapting the pieces for color-blind players. One solution I have found is by creating small stickers which can be affixed to the pieces and the board, thus helping players see which squares control which armies.

I like the idea of stripes on the pieces because that should be possible for a larger manufacturing company, and I'm open to other suggestions that people have.

Thank you for taking a look at the game, and for helping to make it accessible to a wider audience.

Lawrence Smith wrote on 2015-03-09 UTC
I have one observation on this form of chess - while I love the idea and find it very exciting to contemplate, I am amongst the 20% or so of human males that are going to have real problems playing with it (women, darn them, will not have this problem, it's a sex-linked gene). Men with red/green color blindness can have a great deal of trouble distinguishing colors that are too similar unless they also differ in intensity (color-blind men are usually more sensitive to intensity relative to "normal" vision men). Since it can be quite a challenge to tailor the exact colors of a set of chessmen made by the usual methods (which typically use full-saturation and thus tend to cause problems for the color-blind) this may become a disadvantage in marketing. Sadly, the only other way I can suggest is to use patterns (blue-with-white stripe, blue-with-black stripe for instance) but I don't know if such pieces can be had for a reasonable amount of money. This problem may be insoluble in principle (or any other country or state =)

Jeremy Good wrote on 2015-03-08 UTC
I got an email this morning telling me it has a kickstarter campaign. This actually looks like it would be really great fun. The colored squares determine which armies you control!

Nate Conklin wrote on 2013-03-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Thoroughly entertaining and well thought out.  I recommend this game to anyone.  Sovereign Chess definitely takes traditional chess to the next level (akin to jumping from 2D to 3D).

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