Check out Alice Chess, our featured variant for June, 2024.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Richard VanDeventer.

Round Table Chess

on the CirSquare Game Boards

Copyright 1997 Richard G. VanDeventer, All Rights Reserved
Registered with the US Library of Congress in 1997

Welcome to the world of Round Table Chess--a complimentary game to traditional chess. Round Table chess provides serious, traditional chess players with another way to play chess when they feel a need for a little variety or a change of pace. Beginners and Intermediate chess players will also enjoy playing Round Table Chess, because it is just as easy to learn and play as traditional chess.

Rules are here.

All previous variations on the game of chess have either maintained a strictly rectangular or circular arrangement of the game pieces. Each has certain advantages over the other. The CirSquare game boards are the first to combine a circular chess board with a square chess board. Square/rectangular chess boards allow for only one primary direction (frontal) of attack on the opponent’s home area. Circular boards usually allow for two directions (right and left sides) of attack. The CirSquare board provides three primary directions (right, left, and front) of attack.

Rectangular variations on chess simply add new pieces, reduce or increase the number of traditional pieces, or rearrange the pieces on the traditional board. But all previous attempts to develop a new way of playing chess on a square/rectangular board have failed to capture the interest of a significant number of serious chess players. Why? Because the traditional arrangement of pieces remains by far the best way to play chess on a square/rectangular board. To maintain the interest of serious chess players, a unique chess board must be developed that will maintain most of the "familiar feel" of the game while adding another level of interest and excitement.

Numerous forms of circular boards and some other shapes have tried to capture the interest of chess enthusiasts, but they have also fallen far short. Byzantine Chess (played on a four band circular board) invented around 1100 AD did manage to achieve a fairly significant following in Europe for several hundred years and a form of it has reemerged recently in London, England. In New York another circular chess game, "Chess in the Round" (played on an eight band circular board), has recently claimed to have a respectable following. But purely circular boards will probably never receive wide-spread acceptance because the smaller boards like Binsentine chess are too restrictive on the movement of pieces and the larger boards present significant visual problems in trying to follow the spiraling diagonal moves. Also, the eight band boards need to double the number of pawns to provide cover at the beginning of the game for the major pieces. Other variations with a circular theme have been far too complex and confusing.

The CirSquare board provides the perfect blending of a circular board with a rectangular board, retaining their advantages and negating or minimizing their drawbacks. The CirSquare game board is a unique design in the world of game boards which provides for a method of playing chess in a manner that increases the strategic possibilities while maintaining the "feel" of traditional chess with only a few very minor rules exceptions. The basic moves of the chess pieces are virtually the same as those for traditional chess. The only difference in the chess sets is the need for two more Pawns per player.

With only three circular bands and a central area of rows and columns of spaces, the paths for moving the game pieces closely approximate the look and feel of the traditional chess board while allowing for more novel, interesting, and strategic moves. The short, arching movements in the circular bands area are easy to follow and seem like a natural extension of the center area diagonals. Horizontal, vertical, and diagonal moves across the entire width of the board are easy to envision and perform.

Even though there are still four rows of spaces between the Pawn rows, there are 50% more playing spaces. This instills a feeling of more openness for the board. But with the circular bands adding two more directions of attack on the Kings’ home areas, you have the feeling that your King might be less secure. Thus the heightened excitement!

Round Table chess is by no means meant to replace traditional chess, which is a superb game and is probably the most popular board game that the world has ever seen. It is simply meant to provide existing and new chess players with a companion chess game that can be equally enjoyed.

An email playable game in the form of a MS-Word file may be downloaded here.

Have fun playing Round Table Chess and please send me any comments that you would like to share about being a Knight of Round Table Chess. If you devise some new arrangements for the players on the CirSquare board, please let me know. The few exceptions to the rules for traditional chess are explained on the next page. For chess beginners, the traditional rules of chess are explained on a separate sheet.

Round Table Chess and the CirSquare game boards were invented in 1997 by Richard G. VanDeventer in Clearwater, Florida, USA. My address is 809 Woodruff Avenue, Clearwater, FL 34616. My Email address is (email removed contact us for address)

Setup of the CirSquare I game board for Round Table Chess with Archers and Catapults

Rules for Moving the Chess Pieces

All traditional chess pieces move the same as on the traditional chess board with these exceptions:

General Rules for All 3 CirSquare Game Boards

The CirSquare I game board has 92 squares and 44 pieces for a total of 136 for the large chess variant contest. There are two larger game boards not shown, the CirSquare II with 144 squares and the CirSquare III with 204 squares, which are for playing with 2 to 4 players.

Triangular Spaces

The 4 orange triangular spaces in the central area of the board are not playable. Game pieces cannot move across them or over them.

Queens and Rooks

When moving in a circular path along one of the 3 circular bands, a Queen or Rook can only cross one major horizontal or vertical diameter line (indicated by 4 red tick marks in the blue area outside the playing area) during the course of a single move. Thus, a maximum of 75% (three circle quadrants) can be covered from a given position on a circular band. In the figure below, the arrows indicate the maximum range of movement from the Queen and Rook positions shown and the Xs indicate squares that cannot be moved to from the positions shown for the Rooks and Queen. Note the pieces can only pass one red tick mark when moving in either direction along a circular band.

Another view of the possible moves of the Queen and Rook from a given position are indicated by the extent of the arrows in the next graphic:

Archers (a new chess piece)

An Archer can jump diagonally over one space and land on a second in a straight line in any direction over an opponent’s piece or a piece belonging to the same player. If it lands on an opponent’s piece, that piece is captured. The Archer cannot move to any space occupied by a piece belonging to the same player. The Archer can move one space diagonally (across corners) to capture or move to an unoccupied space.

Catapults (a new chess piece)

A Catapult can jump across sides over one space and land on a second in a straight line in any direction over an opponent’s piece or a piece belonging to the same player. If it lands on an opponent’s piece, that piece is captured. The Catapult cannot move to any space occupied by a piece belonging to the same player. The Catapult can move one space across sides to capture or move to an unoccupied space.

The Archers and Catapults perfectly complement the Knights, Bishops, and Rooks. The Archers can move across corners like Bishops, but can also jump similar to Knights. The Catapults can move across sides like Rooks, but can also jump similar to Knights. From the same starting position, Archers and Catapults can cover all the squares missed by the Knight. For example, shown below from the same starting position, Kt marks the possible moves by a Knight, A marks the possible moves by an Archers, and C marks the possible moves by a Catapult.

Archer, Catapults, and Knights move caparisons

Possible moves from the same position shown are illustrated on the central area of the CirSquare II board. The Archers and Catapults can jump to land on the second square away from their current position.

CirSquare I Board


  1. Ten (10) Pawns are used instead of the traditional eight (8) Pawns.
  2. A Pawn that starts on a circular band must move forward on that band toward the opponent’s Pawn on the same band, except when capturing diagonally. Pawns that start within the inner circular area must move forward toward the opponent’s pawns on the opposite end of the same column of spaces, except when capturing diagonally. After a capture, the Pawn continues to move along that circular band or inner column toward the opponent’s home area.
  3. Through a capture move, a Pawn may end up on a column that dead-ends at one of the non-playable, triangular spaces. When that Pawn reaches the space in front of a triangular space, on the next move the Pawn may move past the triangular space by performing a simulated capture move (or actual capture if available) diagonally to one of the spaces on either side of the triangular space.
  4. Promotion occurs as in traditional chess when a Pawn reaches any of the spaces originally occupied by the opponent’s major pieces (not a Pawn) at the start of the game.


Castling is only allowed when the game is played without the Archers and Catapults. For castling on the King’s side, the King moves to the Bishop’s starting position and the Rook moves to the King’s starting position, or the King can move to the Knight’s starting position and the Rook to the Bishop’s starting position. For castling on the Queen’s side, the King moves to the Bishop’s starting position and the Rook moves to the Queen’s starting position, or the King moves to the Knight’s starting position and the Rook moves to the Bishop’s starting position. When Round Table Chess is played without the Archers and Catapults, the game board is set up as shown below:

The only problem with this arrangement is that the Pawns on the circular row in front of the Bishops are not initially protected. I tried having the two Pawns beside the red triangles protect each other, but that makes their positions too strong - too difficult for the opponent to break up.

Copyright 1997 Richard G. VanDeventer, All Rights Reserved

Registered with the US Library of Congress in 1997

See also:

Written by Richard G. VanDeventer. HTML conversion by David Howe.
This variant is an entry in the 1999 Large Variant contest.

WWW page created: April 12, 1999. Last modified: May 17, 1999.