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Spartan Chess. A game with unequal armies. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
David Cannon wrote on 2020-04-08 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I don't usually like games with different armies, but this is an exception. You've put a lot of thought into making a game whose different armies are not unevenly matched. For sure, the Spartan side lacks a Queen and its army appears to be slightly less powerful, but that is compensated for by the presence of two kings, both of which must be checkmated/captured. 

Nick Wolff wrote on 2017-04-01 UTC

Heck yeah!

Then let's play!  It looks like a CWA theme game.  

Greg Strong wrote on 2017-03-31 UTC

I think people have always felt free to implement presets that had not yet been created.  It is unlikely there would be an objection.

In the case of Spartan Chess, I know the inventor wanted a GC preset and had created some new piece graphics to be added to the Alfaerie set for that purpose.  This was probably about 6 years ago, but they should be in my email. I will dig them up and get them uploaded and get a Piece Set created so that the pieces can be identified by proper notation.

Nick Wolff wrote on 2017-03-30 UTC

I see a lot of work has been put into this game and it has been favorited by several people.  However, I don't see a Game Courier preset.  Is there one of these currently and if not, would it be violating any copyright policies to impliment one?  Seems odd to have one of the top favorited games on the site without a preset.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2016-10-20 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
holdingsType=1 promoZone=1 maxPromote=2 promoChoice=*N*B*R*Q*C*L*G*W*K graphicsDir= whitePrefix=w blackPrefix=b graphicsType=png startShade=#FFCC00 symmetry=none pawn::fmWfcFifmnD::a2-h2,, hoplit::fmFfcWifmA:lance:,,a7-h7 knight:N:::b1,g1,,:8,0 bishop:B:B::c1,f1,,:8,0 rook::::a1,h1,,:8,0 queen::::d1,,:8,0 captain::WD:tower:,,d8,e8:0,8 lieutenant::FAsmW:elephant:,,a8,h8:0,8 general::RF:crownedrook:,,b8:0,8 warlord::BN:archbishop:,,g8:0,8 king (spartan)::K:king:,,c8,f8 king (persian)::KisO2:king:e1,,

Color coding of moves:

  • move or capture (sliding)
  • move or capture (jump)
  • non-capture only
  • initial non-capture (for virgin pieces only)
  • capture only
  • moving into or passing through check

Spartan Chess

This game is one of the top favorites of this site. As it also does feature a fair number of unorthodox pieces that makes it deservant of an interactive diagram. Especially since almost all comments on it have been totally garbled by messing up their layout.

    Because of the asymmetry of this variant it required some special attention to make sure the diagram would only allow each side to promote to its own pieces. What I did was define the promotion choice with an asterisk before each piece, meaning it can only come from the holdings. Then I stuffed the holdings initially with eight of each eligible piece type (enough to promote all Pawns to it).

    Except for the Spartan King, which would only be a valid promotion choice if one of the Kings was captured. So I defined the holdings type such that it would accumulate captured pieces of the original owner. By starting without Kings in hand the Spartans then can only promote to King when one of their Kings is captured.


    Only the Persians can castle, and this forced the Persian and Spartan Kings to be defined as different piece types. (If castling is specified with the aid of an O atom, the diagram assumes it is with a Rook or a corner piece of any type. And we do'nt want the Spartan Kings to castle with their Lieutenants!) This has the dubious effect of the Spartan Kings not being considered royal (as the diagram only considers one piece royal, by default the last one defined). So moves of Spartan Kings into check are not 'grayed out', like they are for the Persian King. But of course this is justifiable, as the Spartan King can actually expose itself to capture (if there still is a second one). So such moves can be legal. The diagram does not understand extinction royalty.

    H. G. Muller wrote on 2015-06-04 UTC
    Nice, but it still says 'Anti-King Chess'.

    Julian wrote on 2015-06-03 UTC
    An approximate setup using the alfaerie pieces:

    Jörg Knappen wrote on 2013-06-18 UTC
    I'd suggest changing the "punchline" to something more descriptive than "". Suggestion: "The spartan army with 2 Kings and novel pieces fights against the persians (standard chess army)"
    The punchline occurs in several listings on this site, including the favourite games listing.

    Steven Streetman wrote on 2011-10-01 UTC
    Have you ever seen chess warriors so menacing?

    A Spartan chess set is now designed and prototyped.
    The prototypes set is available for sale on Shapeways: Spartan Set   

    Mr. Anonymous wrote on 2011-07-19 UTC
    Ah, nice solution to puzzle 2. I'm not looking at the other answers, as I may have a chance to work them out myself, although I may look at #3 to see if I properly understand everything.

    Steven Streetman wrote on 2011-07-19 UTC
    Spartan Chess Puzzles - Solutions
    Puzzle #1
    Black (Spartan) to move and mate in 3
    1.  ...	Lf3-e3+
    2.  Kb1	Cb5-b3+
    3.  Ka1	L35-c3#
    Puzzle #2 
    Black (Spartan) to move and mate in 4
    1.  ...		Hb2-c1 = K
    2.  Qa2xKc2	Kc1xQc2
    3.  Ka1-a2	Ca5-a4+
    4.  Ka2-a1	Ca4-a3#
    Only by promotion the hoplite to a King can the Spartan win.
    Persian moves other than 2. Qa2xKc2 result in a quicker Spartan victory.
    2. Qa2-b3	Ca5-a3+
    3. Qb3xCa3	Kc1-b1#
    2. (any other)	Kc1-b1#
    Puzzle #3 
    White (Persian) to move and mate in 2
    1.  Nd8-b7+	Ld5xNb7
    2.  b2-b4#
    Puzzle #4 
    Black (Spartan) to move and mate in 3
    1.  ...		Lf5-c3+
    2.  Bb2xLc3	La5xBc3+
    3.  Rf3xLc3	Wb4xRc3#
    Puzzle #5 
    Black (Spartan) to move and mate in 2
    1.  ...		Wc5xb3+
    2.  Kc1-b2	Hd2-c1=W#

    Steven Streetman wrote on 2011-07-14 UTC
    Two more Spartan Chess puzzles.
    The solutions will be posted separately in a day or so.

    Spartan pieces are labeled and move as follows:
    h = Hoplite - moves 1 square diagonally and captures 1 forward
    L = Lieutenant - leaps 1 or 2 squares diagonally, moves (no capture) 1 square horizontally
    C = Captain - leaps 1 or 2 squares orthogonally
    G = General - moves like a rook or King
    W = Warlord - moves like a Knight or a Bishop
    K = Spartan King - move exactly like an orthodox King

    Puzzle #4
    Black (Spartan) to move and mate in 3

    Puzzle #5
    Black (Spartan) to move and mate in 2

    Steven Streetman wrote on 2011-07-09 UTC
    Mr. Anonymous
    puzzle 2 a5-a3+ a2-a3
             b2-b1+ promotes
    if promote to RN, then a1-a2
             b1-c3+ a2-a1
             c3-a3 mate
    if promote to RK [aka: General], then mate.
    b2-b1 is not a correct Spartan Chess move. The hoplite, or Spartan pawn, moves diagonally and captures straight ahead. Since there is no enemy piece on b1 the hoplite cannot get to that square. Also there is no RN. There is the General=RK and the Warlord=BN.
    The solution is a bit trickier.

    Anonymous wrote on 2011-07-09 UTC
    puzzle 2 a5-a3+ a2-a3
             b2-b1+ promotes
    if promote to RN, then a1-a2
             b1-c3+ a2-a1
             c3-a3 mate
    if promote to RK [aka: General], then mate.

    Anonymous wrote on 2011-07-09 UTC
    puzzle 1 f3-e3+ c1-b1
             b5-b3+ b1-a1
             e5-c3 mate

    Steven Streetman wrote on 2011-07-09 UTC
    A few Spartan chess puzzles for your amusement and critique.
    Shortly I will post their solutions or the refutation as it is easy to err on such puzzles.

    Spartan pieces are labeled and move as follows:
    h = Hoplite - moves 1 square diagonally and captures 1 forward
    L = Lieutenant - leaps 1 or 2 squares diagonally, moves (no capture) 1 square horizontally
    C = Captain - leaps 1 or 2 squares orthogonally
    G = General - moves like a rook or King
    W = Warlord - moves like a Knight or a Bishop
    K = Spartan King - move exactly like an orthodox King

    Puzzle #1
    Black (Spartan) to move and mate in 3

    Puzzle #2
    Black (Spartan) to move and mate in 4

    Puzzle #3
    White (Persian) to move and mate in 2

    Post your solution, comment or critique.

    If you create a Spartan chess puzzle please post it and I will be glad to
    post it to the official Spartan Chess website crediting you as its author.

    M Winther wrote on 2011-02-19 UTC
    I have used & nbsp (with no space between & and n) as non-breaking space several times on this site. One can also use & #151 which is long dash (with no space between & and n), etc. Then it looks like this:   and this: —

    Fergus Duniho wrote on 2011-02-18 UTC
    But look, it is. In my last message, I entered & amp;nbsp; without any space after the ampersand. It looked right in the preview, but it got transformed into an unknown character in the final version. This is something for David Howe to look into. [I'll look into it. -DH]

    Fergus Duniho wrote on 2011-02-18 UTC
    It looks better now. It is strange that   should be causing any trouble.

    Steven Streetman wrote on 2011-02-18 UTC
    I see what you mean. They were not like this at one point, now they are. Thanks for pointing it out. I will get right on it.
    Hmmm, sort of odd. I resubmitted the first section and all the offending characters were gone. When I resubmitted the second section, The Setup, the offending characters were back.
    It seems that what is not liked is '& nbsp;' (no space between & and nbsp;) which is used in HTML for padding spaces. I will figure a way to scrub this out of the submission.
    Scrubbing done. Still seems sort of odd. Is there a character or string of characters we use on this site for a non-breaking space?

    Fergus Duniho wrote on 2011-02-18 UTC
    There are some characters on this page that don't look right in either UTF-8 or Latin-1. In UTF-8, they show up as diamonds with question marks, and in Latin-1, they don't make sense. When you can, please update these characters to whatever they should be in UTF-8.

    H. G. Muller wrote on 2011-02-15 UTC
    Very nice. It shows the power of a jump. A diagonal slider can seldomly do this (except in fool's mate), but here it does not matter that d2 is defended several times. Blocking the check is not possible.
    I guess tactical motifs like this are what makes a pair of Lieutenants about equivalent to a Bishop pair. Something that much surprised me. Apparently the single non-blockable 2-square jump has nearly the same value as all distant moves of a slider, which can be blocked.

    Steven Streetman wrote on 2011-02-15 UTC
    Here is the record of the shortest Spartan Chess game played face-to-face (that I know of).

    1. c4 ... Hac5
    2. b3 ... Hxc4
    3. bxc4 ... Hc5
    4. d3 ... Lf6
    5. Na3 ... Le5
    6. Nf3 ... Lc3#

    Final Position:

    By the way...
    I consider c4, the first move played by the Persian in this losing game,
    to be the strongest first move and consider e4, the most common in
    orthodox chess, to be among the weakest. Some analysis to follow.

    H. G. Muller wrote on 2011-02-12 UTC
    I did run some 5-men Spartan end-games with my tablebase generator, and can confirm that the following endgames are all 'generally won' to white:
    moves to conversion:
                 max typ
    K+Q+B vs K+W  44  10
    K+Q+N vs K+W  45  10
    K+Q+B vs K+G  33  18
    K+Q+N vs K+G  39  18
    'Generally won' means that with white to move it is virtually always won, except for the ~1% of cases where the initial position happens to be a fork or skewer against your K+Q. With black to move these are only won in about 35% of the cases, because in the remaining 65% the powerful black defender (W or G) will be able to capture either King or Queen in the initial position.
    The first two end-games can already be found on this site (calculate by McCooey, where Warlord is called Pegasus), those with the General are new.

    H. G. Muller wrote on 2011-02-07 UTC
    I have now started the 'official' tournament. Seven engines are participating:
    1. Catalyst       (Richard Albert)
    2. ChessV         (Gregory strong)
    3. Fairy-Max 4.8R (H.G.Muller)
    4. Nebiyu 1.1     (Daniel Shawul)
    5. Oberon 0.04    (Pawel Koziol)
    6. Sjaak 92       (Evert Glebbeek)
    7. Spartacus 0.23 (H.G.Muller)
    The games are broadcasted live at 
    The first qualifier cycle has completed. Spartacus and Nebiyu faced 6-fold
    time-odds in this cycle. This is needed to make their games with the others more
    interesting and relevant. The results were:
    Cross table, sorted by score percentage, Buchholz, SB
                                  Sp Ne Ob Fa Ch Sj Ca
     1. Spartacus 0.23 / 6        ## =1 10 =1 11 01 11   75%   9.0 ( 66.0,  47.0)
     2. Nebiyu 1.1 / 6            =0 ## 11 11 0= 11 11   75%   9.0 ( 66.0,  44.3)
     3. Oberon                    01 00 ## 01 10 01 11   50%   6.0 ( 72.0,  28.0)
     4. Fairy-Max  4.8R           =0 00 10 ## 11 0= 11   50%   6.0 ( 72.0,  26.3)
     5. ChessV (Spartan)          00 1= 01 00 ## 11 10   46%   5.5 ( 73.0,  31.5)
     6. Sjaak 92                  10 00 10 1= 00 ## 11   46%   5.5 ( 73.0,  26.0)
     7. Catalyst 3                00 00 00 00 01 00 ##    8%   1.0 ( 82.0,   5.5)
    After the second (last) qualifier cycle:
    Cross table, sorted by score percentage, Buchholz, SB
                           Spar Nebi Sjaa Fair Ober Ches Cata
     1. Spartacus 0.23 / 6 #### =101 0111 =110 10=1 1111 1110   73%  17.5 (266.0, 187.0)
     2. Nebiyu 1.1 / 6     =010 #### 11=0 1111 1110 0=10 1111   69%  16.5 (270.0, 176.5)
     3. Sjaak 92           1000 00=1 #### 1=10 1011 0011 1101   54%  13.0 (284.0, 139.8)
     4. Fairy-Max  4.8R    =001 0000 0=01 #### 10=1 11=1 1110   50%  12.0 (288.0, 118.8)
     5. Oberon             01=0 0001 0100 01=0 #### 10=1 1111   48%  11.5 (290.0, 116.5)
     6. ChessV (Spartan)   0000 1=01 1100 00=0 01=0 #### 1000   31%   7.5 (306.0,  96.5)
     7. Catalyst 3         0001 0000 0010 0001 0000 0111 ####   25%   6.0 (312.0,  65.0)
    Spartacus, Nebiyu, Sjaak and Fairy-Max went to the play-offs, which was run
    without time odds. The final result (keeping the results of the qualifier) was:
    Cross table, sorted by score percentage, Buchholz, SB
                                  Spa Neb Sja Fai Obe Che Cat
     1. Spartacus 0.23            ### =10 011 =11 10= 111 111
                                  ### 111 111 010 1   1   0     75%  22.5 (391.0, 289.8)
     2. Nebiyu 1.1                =01 ### 11= 111 111 0=1 111
                                  000 ### 0=1 111 0   0   1     67%  20.0 (406.0, 243.5)
     3. Sjaak 92                  100 00= ### 1=1 101 001 110
                                  000 1=0 ### 011 1   1   1     52%  15.5 (433.0, 188.5)
     4. Fairy-Max  4.8R           =00 000 0=0 ### 10= 11= 111
                                  101 000 100 ### 1   1   0     43%  13.0 (448.0, 152.5)
     5. Oberon                    01= 000 010 01= ### 10= 111
                                  0   1   0   0   ### 1   1     48%  11.5 (338.0, 131.5)
     6. ChessV (Spartan)          000 1=0 110 00= 01= ### 100
                                  0   1   0   0   0   ### 0     31%   7.5 (354.0, 110.8)
     7. Catalyst 3                000 000 001 000 000 011 ###
                                  1   0   0   1   0   1   ###   25%   6.0 (360.0,  73.5)
    So Spartacus is the Spartan-Chess computer champion of 2011!
    A PGN file with all games can be downloaded from .

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