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Roman Chess. Commercial chess variant on a 10x10 board with two non-royal kings added.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Fergus Duniho wrote on 2017-10-22 UTC

One of the reasons sets of Roman Chess never sold well is that the new pieces were just large Pawns. Even if people weren't interested in the game itself, it would have drawn more interest if it had distinctive pieces that could be used with other Chess variants. Grand Chess and Omega Chess both had this selling point. Presently, Musketeer Chess pieces are selling to people without any special interest in the game Musketeer Chess, because they are distinct from other Chess pieces and can be used in a variety of different Chess variants.

Greg Strong wrote on 2017-10-22 UTC

Omega Chess had commercial sets.  They don't appear to be available right now, but it says "new boards coming soon."  And House of Staunton has variant pieces for Muskateer Chess.

There have been many, many commercial variants over the years, but they almost invariably go bust.  There's just not much market for it.  It's impressive that Grand Chess and Omega Chess have held on as long as they have.  If you can find a copy of Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, it is filled with commercial variants that are long gone.

V. Reinhart wrote on 2017-10-22 UTC

Thanks Greg, that looks awesome - now it's actually an interesting article!

I believe it's one of the few variants where the inventor made a physical set available (but perhaps not of supurb durability). The board appears to be a printed 10x10 sheet of paper, and the one variant piece appears to be a "pawn" from a chess set of larger pieces. (Thus the archer is pawn-shaped but larger).

To my knowledge, other variant games where the author released a physical set include Capablanca chess, Seirawan chess, and Grand chess.

Does anyone know if ther are many others?

With the ability of modern software to create high-resolution game illustrations, the need for a physical set isn't as important as it was historically. It's interesting to know about the games that were once availabe with a physical set available for OTB play.

Greg Strong wrote on 2017-10-22 UTC

Link page replaced with regular game-description page will full rules and interactive diagram.  I've also rolled in the photographs of the commercial set (sadly no longer available.)

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2017-10-22 UTC

I see. It was giving a link for a link page to Zillions of Games. Forget about that code, and just set the HREF of the link to "/programs.dir/zillions/", or just in case anyone ever makes another offline version, use the appropriate number of "../" before "programs.dir".

Greg Strong wrote on 2017-10-22 UTC

Hmmm... Still gives an error. I guess I'll just eliminate the script stuff and use the standard href link since we're not burning off-line versions any more.

It came from the standard template referenced on the Editor Page, but I think it's used all over the place. For example, you'll see the error on the Eurasian Chess page.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2017-10-22 UTC

I haven't seen this particular code before, and I don't know what page it is from, but I understand what it's trying to do. The test <!--#if expr="1=0" -->  evaluates to a false statement, and whatever follows it will not be executed if Server Side Includes are working. Its use is to provide HTML code that gets used only when the page is offline, because David would sometimes burn offline versions of the site onto CD ROMs. The line <!--#include virtual="/cgi-bin/extern.cgi?itemid=ZillionsofGames&level=1" --> executes a CGI script written in Perl, which prints an external link to the item whose itemid is given. Since that script prints the </a> part of the link, it looks like this code has misplaced a line. This should work better:

<!--#if expr="1=0" -->
<a href="../offline/links/ZillionsofGames.html">Zillions of Games</a>
<!--#endif -->
<!--#include virtual="/cgi-bin/extern.cgi?itemid=ZillionsofGames&level=1" -->

Greg Strong wrote on 2017-10-21 UTC

Fergus, can you explain the following code?  It's in the template, but it just gives me an [an error occurred while processing this directive] when viewing.  I don't understand what it's trying to do:

<p>If you have

<!--#if expr="1=0" -->
<a href="../offline/links/ZillionsofGames.html">
<!--#endif -->
<!--#include virtual="/cgi-bin/extern.cgi?itemid=ZillionsofGames&level=1" -->
Zillions of Games</a>

installed on your computer

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2017-10-21 UTC

Okay, Greg. Go ahead and do that.

V. Reinhart wrote on 2017-10-21 UTC

I agree to get rid of the obsolete link - especially since it is advertising something that isn't being sold anymore (and detracts from items that are really being supported and advertised on these pages).

It might even be good to delete the page altogether - there's three other pages in CVP about Roman Chess. My opinion is that games that aren't being supported by the original author, and aren't historically notable, and aren't being played, only deserve low-priority for editorial elaboration. (Just my opinion, but I'm not a CVP editor. I just like to keep up-to-date on the most recent games, and play a few once in a while).

fyi: I also like to stay up-to-date on variant chess theory, and variant engines such as your ChessV (one of the very rare variant-chess engines and DOES deserve more attention).

Greg Strong wrote on 2017-10-21 UTC

I've updated the link to point to  But I don't think this should remain a "link" page.  If the target was dynamic and updated, that might make sense, but what is the point of only linking to a old page that is so bad it doesn't even fully describe the rules?  Would the community not be better served if I made a nice, modern page that fully describes the game?  We could still provide a link for historical interest.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2017-10-13 UTC

Since using a flex-box did not work on my Kindle, I rewrote the script to calculate the values needed for the navigation links before it prints the comments.

V. Reinhart wrote on 2017-10-13 UTC

Thanks for the information about this game. I was also curious if pawns get an initial triple step, and Greg's reply makes it clear they didn't.

Just to know for sure, was this game invented by Hans Bodlaender, or did he just make the page which is a link to an external website?

There are several elements that I like about this game. I often enjoy games which are only a slight varition of normal chess. This game has a 10x10 board, which is a profound change, but there is only one non-standard piece added. That would make it easy to learn and play.

Greg is right that the opening would be slow for a number of moves. But half the pieces are pawns (just as in chess) so this keeps them as a strong element in positional play.

I also wonder about the lower piece density of this game. Chess starts with 50% of squares with pieces on them. This game has 40%. But chess is fine even from middle-game on, so once pieces engage, it may feel a little like a chess middle-game, where the board is not so full and pieces have plenty of room to maneuver. But the knight and archers would be relativelly slow moving. Actually sounds kind of fun and interesting to me, for people who don't mind long games.

Also, Thanks HGMuller for the explanation of the "isO2". Thinking about castling, I should have been able to derive that answer. I appreciate everyone's feedback.:)

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2017-10-13 UTC

When there is a link in, we should use it in place of the broken link.

The rules are described in my ZRF for the game. I was originally using this to play Roman Chess against one of its inventors. That game got derailed when I missed an email from him. This was one of my inspirations for making correspondence play more secure with Game Courier.

I have added another set of navigation links above the comments by using a flex-box. The script writes both sets of links after the comments, but it gives one of them an earlier order value.

Greg Strong wrote on 2017-10-13 UTC

I will update this page this weekend.  I'll get rid of the external link, now dead, and replace with a description of the rules.

What an uninspired game this was... slow and boring, I'd imagine.  The pawns were not given a 3-step move and the new pieces moved only one space at a time, so it would have taken a game quite a while to get going.  The sets themselves were pretty expensive ($80) and the company web site was quite bad.  (You can still see it at  I could find no indication of how far the king moves when castling.

EDIT: I now notice that old ChessV plays this game. I just tested it and the king moves three squares when castling. Presumably that was the rule which I found somewhere or asked the author. It's unlikely that I just made it up.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2017-10-13 UTC

The Earlier comments link appears only at the bottom, because the value needed for it is determined by the id of the last comment displayed on the page, and it doesn't know what this is until it has displayed a page full of comments.

OK, I see. I noticed that when I accidentally put a piece of text in a table between a </td> and a <td> element (instead of the reverse), it renders that text above the table. This might just be making use of undefined browser properties, however.

JavaScript could solve it, of course: you could just define an empty <div> at the start of the page, and at the end of the page emit a <script> that would fill it with the required <a> element. This would then occur in the client browser, and cause no server load. It would not work when JavaScript is turned off, then. But to make the life of people that do that easier, you could initially fill the <div> element at the top with an <a> that refers to an in-page tag at the bottom. Then at least they have a one-click method to get to the 'Earlier Comments' link.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2017-10-13 UTC

O = castling (chosen because of O-O / O-O-O in SAN), s = sideways, 2 = piece makes exactly two steps, i = virgin piece only.

That the Rook, as virgin corner piece, ends up next to the King on the other of the latter, is implied by the O atom. On 10-wide boards it is more customary to have O3 castling. The only description of this variant that Google came up with ( just gives the setup, says that Archers are non-royal Kings, and that otherwise FIDE rules apply. I interpreted the later as O2 castling, although when you think of Chess960 it would be possible to argue that it should actually mean O3 castling on 10-wide boards. I also interpreted this as that there is no initial triple push on the Pawns.

I am not even 100% sure of the name 'Archer'. The description I found only says 'non-royal King', but I vaguely remember having seen a description long time ago where they were called Archers. (Or Centurions?) I added the variant to Fairy-Max at the time I implemented support in the latter for boards with other than 8 ranks, as a simple example of a 10x10 variant. The comment in the game definition there refers to the new pieces as 'Archers', and uses the letter A as ID for them. I must have gotten that from somewehere...

V. Reinhart wrote on 2017-10-12 UTC

Thanks for the rules for Roman chess. How does one interpret the move notation for the king "KisO2". Is "isO2" a designator for royalty?

Also, what is the policy of CVP concerning web pages with obsolete information? Is only Hans Bodlaender allowed to change this page (based on "page made by Hans Bodlaender"), or can other editors update this page?

Is CVP accepting volunteers to help with cleaning up webpages (such as this page)?

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2017-10-12 UTC

The Archer moves one space in any direction, like a non-royal King. Kings move three squares toward the Rook when castling. Other rules are the same as in Chess.

The Earlier comments link appears only at the bottom, because the value needed for it is determined by the id of the last comment displayed on the page, and it doesn't know what this is until it has displayed a page full of comments. To get this information before it displays the comments, it would have to load them all into an array first. This would probably increase memory usage more than CPU usage, but I think that's okay, since my server's memory usage hovers around 3GB, but up to 9GB of RAM are available.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2017-10-12 UTC
Highlighting style:
files=10 ranks=10 graphicsDir=/membergraphics/MSelven-chess/ whitePrefix=w blackPrefix=b graphicsType=png squareSize=35 useMarkers=1 startShade=#FFC000 promoChoice=QNRAB symmetry=mirror pawn::::a2-j2 knight:N:::b1,i1 archer::K:lance:c1,h1 bishop::::d1,g1 rook::::a1,j1 queen::::e1 king::KisO3::f1

Roman Chess

Unfortunately none of the four pages here show the rules. Just to try out the latest version of the interactive diagram script, I posted this description here. Note the diagram now has a color legend in the collapsible legend area below it, if you use the minimized piece table.

@Fergus: would it be possible to also get an "Earlier comments" link at the top of the comments pages? Now it is only at the bottom. On a device as primitive as my e-reader, it takes an awful lot of time to scroll it to the bottom, as the comments listing page can get quite long. This is very inconveient if I need to go to a posting known to be in the 2nd or 3rd group of 25.

Another HTML style question to which you perhaps know the aswer: In the color legend below the diagram on the left I try to display the marker images at ~65% of their size, by adding height="21" width="21" to the tag (while the images are really 33x33). This works great on my ancient FireFox on Linux. But on a modern FireFox on Windows 8 they display at 100%. Is there a better way to force demagnification of the images? The color legend looks very spacey now...

V. Reinhart wrote on 2017-10-12 UTC

The link on this page is still dead. With this page linking to a non-existing website, and almost no other information, I wonder if this page should be deleted altogether.

There are three other pages for "Roman Chess", so removing this page won't cause any harm - just good housekeeping.

Matthew Paul wrote on 2004-07-14 UTC
The link is dead.

Anonymous wrote on 2003-07-23 UTC
how much extra does it cost for the lead in the pieces?

Ben Good wrote on 2003-07-23 UTC
the cost of the molds doesn't answer the question of why the sets cost so much. both omegachess and gothicchess presumably also use plastic molds (and make more interesting pieces, altho i doubt that is a significant factor in cost), yet last time i checked, they cost only about half what this game does.

Anonymous wrote on 2003-07-22 UTC
Plastic pieces aren't expensive, but the molds needed to make them are. Tooling up to mass-produce plastic parts the size of game pieces costs anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000, depending on the type of molding technology used, the expected size of the run, etc.

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