The Chess Variant Pages

Check out Cylindrical Chess, our featured variant for March, 2023.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Mark Hedden.



I looked at Ganymede Chess, and I thought "This is good". But it wasn't good enough. Oh, sure, it was a terribly fun game, and there was nothing at all wrong with it, and quite a few right with it, but it seemed that there was still a lot more room to be explored in the realm of large CVs, and that it was my Solemn Duty, <g>, as a chess variant enthusiast, to do so. The first thing that came was the idea. A similar, and the same promotion abilities, but quite a different feel. For this game, I wanted a more open game, reminiscent of games like Grande Acedrex (another wonderful CV), and quickly set out to do so. Thus, the name. Europa is a very flat world, with no major obstructions. Even so, it is constantly in upheaval from the vast tidal forces that exist under its surface. That is what I wanted this game to feel like. Open, with no real potential for blockades or the like, but still extremely quick and exciting. I hope you will enjoy this as much as I have!


r g j c z b q k b z c j g r  14
p p p p p p p p p p p p p p  13
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
P P P P P P P P P P P P P P  2
R G J C Z B Q K B Z C J G R  1
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n

White: Rook, a1, n1; Griffin, b1 m1; Supercomputer, c1, L1; Archer, d1, k1; Crooked Bishop, e1, j1; Bishop, f1, i1; Queen, g1; King, h1; Pawns, a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2, i2, j2, k2, L2, m2, n2

Black: Rook, a14, n14; Griffin, b14 m14; Supercomputer, c14, L14; Archer, d14, k14; Crooked Bishop, e14, j14; Bishop, f14, i14; Queen, g14; King, h14; Pawns, a13, b13, c13, d13, e13, f13, g13, h13, i13, j13, k13, L13, m13, n13


The rook, bishop, king and queen are all the same as their Orthochess equivalents. However, there are no knights, and the pawns move slightly differently.

Griffin: The Griffin is a rather common piece, used in quite a few other chess variants. However, I like it a lot, and have included it in one of my other variants, Ganymede Chess. One unfortunate thing about it, I've seen it spelled more different ways than any other piece(!) The most common spelling I've seen is Griffon, but I have seen such weird spellings as Gryphon. However, the CORRECT spelling is Griffin. Not that it matters, but it is nice to know stuff like this. Now, as for its move, it moves first one square diagonally, and then any number of spaces like a rook, but only away from it's starting position. Here's a diagram to better explain its move:

. . + . + . . .
. . + . + . . .
. . + . + . . .
+ + + . + + + +
. . . G . . . .
+ + + . + + + +
. . + . + . . .
. . + . + . . .

It can continue moving in any of the eight directions pictured in the diagram. It is a rather powerful piece, made even more so by the spaciousness of the board. If you know how to use it, is worth about 7 pawns, or almost a Queen. However, even if you don't know how to use it well, it is still worth about 5 or 6 pawns. This move is written as t[FR] in funny notation. Here's a tip on how to use it correctly: FORKS=D

Supercomputer: The supercomputer is a fairly powerful jumping piece. It moves in one of three ways: It either jumps 3 spaces like a rook, 2 spaces like a bishop, or it jumps as a (3,1) jumper. As you can see, it is rather powerful, a bit less than a rook, and is pretty easy to use. You just get it into a center square, support it with a pawn or two, and watch it dominate the surrounding area. And, if you're wondering why I called it the supercomputer, I have a very good reason for that. You see, in funny notation, this piece's move is written as HAL (Good morning, Dave).

Archer: The archer is a piece that I have seen in several other chess variants. In my game, it replaces the knight, because it is better suited to an open board. However, I made an addition to it. The archer moves, but doesn't capture, as either a knight or a (3,1) jumper. To capture, it first makes a normal move, and after that, it can capture, without moving, any piece that is another knight or (3,1) jumper move away from it. The (3,1) jumper part is my addition. I think it's worth a bit more than a knight. But, whatever. However, I choose this piece for another very good reason, beside just the fact that it is interesting on a very large board. This reason has to do with the supercomputer. You see, what is an archer? Why, an archer is a bow-man, or a Bowman, as in David Bowman (Good morning, Dave). There is no way to write this in funny notation.

Crooked Bishop: The crooked bishop is one of Ralph Betza's favorite pieces, and I happen to like it as well. It moves by first moving one square diagonally, and then turning 90 degrees and making another move diagonally away from its starting square, and it can keep on doing this ad forever. Here is a diagram of its movement:

. . . + . + . .
. . . . + . . .
. . . + . + . .
. . . . + . . .
. + . + . + . +
+ . + . Z . + .
. + . + . + . +
. . . . + . . .

This piece is definitely unusual, but it's a lot of fun, especially on big boards, where it has the space it needs to get around. I'd estimate it to be worth a bit less than a rook, although I could be wrong. It's written zB in funny notation.

Pawn: The pawns in this game move much the same way as those in Orthochess, except that on it's first move it can move 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 spaces forward. Also, they can promote to any of the starting pieces, or to a Hippogriff, which is a combination of Rook and Griffin. You will normally want to promote it to a Hippogriff.


In Europan chess, castling is done once the same criteria as in Orthochess have been fulfilled, but instead of the normal castling move, the King jumps to the square where the Griffin would normally start, and the Rook moves one square beyond the King. This is done so that the King would be equally safe whether it castles kingside or queenside. En passant is the same as in Orthochess, except that it can be done to pawns that have moved 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 squares forward.


Archers are difficult to use. The concept of a rather powerful jumper who can be blocked from having any moves at all is rather foreign to us. In fact, I can not use it very well at all. Of course, this may just be that I'm not very good at chess as a whole, but, hey, it is a weird piece. Griffins are very good at forking, remember that well. Also, because of the fact that they control two whole ranks and two whole files, in the endgame one of them is almost as dangerous as two rooks. The supercomputer is most definitely NOT a good endgame piece. You want to trade it off towards the end of the middle game. And as for the Hippogriff, well, it is very, very, powerful, more so than a Queen, or even a Queen + Knight. It is very easy for a hippogriff to get a mate by itself, without even help from a Queen. Translation: You DON'T want your enemy to be able to promote a pawn, cause if he's done so, he's won the game, unless you have an overwhelming material advantages, and sometimes even then.


Thank you for reading this CV. I would appreciate any feedback you could give me. My e-mail address is (email removed contact us for address)

Written by Mark E Hedden.
WWW page created: December 16, 1999.