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Opulent Chess


Opulent Chess is a decimal chess variant similar to Christian Freeling's Grand Chess, but with a stronger Knight, and two new jumping pieces (the Lion, and the Wizard.) In this game, the Bishop, Knight, Lion, and Wizard should all have almost the same material value, while having very different movement charistics. This should lead to a game with more exchanges between pieces of different types, leading naturally to battles between different armies and hopefully giving each game played a more unique character.


The 10x10 square array is as follows:

King f2; Queen e2; Chancellor a2; Archbishop j2; Knight d2, g2; Lion b2, i2; Wizard b1, i1; Bishop c2, h2; Rook a1, j1; Pawn a3, b3, c3, d3, e3, f3, g3, h3, i3, j3.

King f9; Queen e9; Chancellor a9; Archbishop j9; Knight d9, g9; Lion b9, i9; Wizard b10, i10; Bishop c9, h9; Rook a10, j10; Pawn a8, b8, c8, d8, e8, f8, g8, h8, i8, j8.


The King, Queen, Bishop, Rook, and Pawn move the same as they do in Orthodox Chess. The Chancellor is a compound piece combining the moves of the Rook and the Orthodox Chess Knight. The Archbishop is a compound piece combining the moves of the Bishop and Orthodox Chess Knight (note: this does not include the extra moves given to the Knight in this game.) The moves of the three leaping pieces are shown below.

The Knight

The Knight moves like a standard Chess Knight, with the added ability to step a single space horizontally or vertically (optionally capturing a piece.) The added moves make the Knight a little more powerful, so that it is still of a similar value to the Bishop (as in Orthodox Chess) despite the enlarged board size. The Knight is still forced to move to a square of the opposite color with each move.


The Wizard

The Wizard piece is a colorbound leaper that was invented for Omega Chess. It can make a (1, 3) leap like the Camel, or can move a single space diagonally. Like a Bishop, the Wizard remains on squares of the same color throughout the game.


The Lion

The Lion is a piece invented by Ralph Betza, which he called a Half-Duck. It has been used recently with the name 'Lion' in games by David Paulowich. This piece may leap either 2 or 3 squares horizontally or vertically, or may step a single space digonally. This piece stays on squares of the same color except when it makes the somewhat ackward (0, 3) leap.

Piece Quick-Reference Chart

Notation Movement Average Mobility Midgame Value Endgame Value
Pawn P mfWcfF - 1.0 1.25
Bishop B B 6.89 4.0 4.0
Wizard W CF 8.28 4.5 4.5
Knight N NW 9.36 4.75 4.75
Lion L HFD 9.24 4.75 4.75
Rook R R 9.01 5.5 6.0
Archbishop A BN 12.65 7.5 8.0
Chancellor C RN 14.77 9.25 10.0
Queen Q BR 15.91 10.0 11.0
King K WF 6.84 - -

The Movement column describes the moves in Betza Notation.
The Average Mobility score is a Betza Mobility Calculation with a magic number of 0.7


All rules are the same as in Grand Chess. They are the same as in Orthodox Chess, except for the following changes:

  • Castling - there is no castling rule in this game. Since the back rank is almost empty except for the rooks, castling is not necessary to accelerate the game as it is in Chess.

  • Pawn Promotion - Pawns may optionally promote when they enter the 8th or 9th rank, and are forced to promote when reaching the 10th. Pawns promote by replacement - the pawn is exchanged for a friendly piece (other than a pawn) which has already been captured. If there are no captured pieces to exchange it for, it may not promote, and may not move to the 10th rank. A pawn stuck on the 9th rank may still give check, however.


The name: As the game is similar to Grand Chess, and I had no better ideas, I just selected a synonym for "grand." Other synonyms, like "Ostentatious Chess", were less pleasing :)

The number 10: This game was an entry in the contest to design a 10-chess variant which was held to celebrate the 10th aniversary of the Chess Variant Pages. The contest objective was to design a chess variant prominently featuring the number 10. Opulent Chess features 10 different types of pieces on a board with 10 ranks and 10 files. For another contest entry that chose to use 10 piece types on a 10x10, see TenCubed Chess.

Opening setup: The arrangement of pieces in the initial array is not arbitrary, but rather the result of extensive computer analysis of many different arrangements. For each setup, all of White's opening moves were searched exhaustively to a depth of 9, and scored with a precise evaluation. In selecting the 'best' setup, I was looking for several criteria (not in order of importance):

  1. The largest number of 'good' first moves; that is, moves with a positive evaluation score
  2. The largest number of different first moves to select from with evaluations very close to that of the best move
  3. The lowest evaluation for the best first move, thereby giving White the least advantage

I was concerned that setups which were better at one of these criteria would always be worse at another, but that really didn't wind up being the case. The results for the third criteria varied randomly, it seemed, and differences were probably too small to say anything meaningful. As for the first two, they seemed to go hand-in-hand. Also, when selecting setups for testing, I made no attempt to avoid setups with unprotected pawns, but those setups always scored worse towards the first two criteria, giving some good evidence for the practice of avoiding setups with unprotected pawns when designing Chess variants.

Computer Play: Opulent Chess is fully supported by ChessV, a free open-source program for playing chess variants. You can also play Opulent Chess if you have a registered version of Zillions-of-Games installed on your Computer. You can Download the ZRF file here.

Play Online: Opulent Chess can be played on this site with Game Courier. A selection of fully automated, rule-enforcing presets can be found here. You can also view games that have previously been played on Game Courier here.

Intellectual Property Rights: Anyone is free to make use of Opulent Chess for any purpose, including commercial purposes. The only limitation is that the name may not be changed, and Greg Strong must be given credit for the invention.

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Greg Strong.
Web page created: 2005-05-01. Web page last updated: 2018-09-24