The Chess Variant Pages

4 Armies


4 Armies is an entry for the 100 squares chess variant contest.

The Board

The 10x10 board includes four armies: white, black, red, and green. One player controls the white and black armies while the other player controls the red and green armies. The armies controlled by each player start the game at opposite corners of the board. Each army consists of one king, one cardinal, two bishops, two rooks, two knights, and five pawns. In the diagram below, the queen is used to represent the cardinal.

Pieces and Movement

The king, rook, bishop, and knight move as per regular chess. Cardinals move as a bishop or as a knight.

Pawns move one or two squares orthogonally (without jumping) and capture one square diagonally. Pawns do not promote. There is no capture en passant.

There is no castling. Rules and restrictions on giving or moving into check do not apply, though it is expected to announce when threatening an opposing king.

The game begins with the white/black player moving a piece of the white army. The red/green player then moves one piece of the red army and one piece of the green army (either order). Thereafter, players move one piece of each of their two armies per turn; either army may move first in a turn.

Should a player not be able to move any pieces of a particular army, the player moves once with the army that can move and then the turn passes to the opponent. Should neither army have a legal move, the turn is forfeited.

Wins and Draws

You win when you meet any of these conditions:

  • At the start of your turn, your two kings are adjacent (diagonal or orthogonal) to each other
  • You move one of your kings into the starting square of your other king
  • You capture both your opponent's kings

Draws are per regular chess except as follows:

  • Stalemates do not apply; kings may move into squares where they can be captured.
  • Two bare kings, king vs. king and bishop, or similar combinations that result in a draw in normal chess do not automatically result in a draw.


Four Players

In a four-player game, each player controls one army. Players form two teams: white/black and red/green. Teammates sit opposite each other. Play begins with the white player and passes clockwise with each player moving one piece per turn. All players should agree on rules regulating communication between teammates.


White pieces cannot capture green pieces, red cannot capture white, black cannot capture red, and green cannot capture black.

Zillions of Games

There is now a rules file available for playing the two-player version of 4 Armies Chess with Zillions of Games. You may download it here:

The two-player version of 4 Armies Chess is an entry in the 100 Squares Contest
Written by Patrick Riley; Zillions section added by Fergus Duniho
WWW Page Created: July 23, 2000; Last updated October 20, 2000