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Christian Freeling's Grand Chess


Grand Chess, by the Dutch game designer Christian Freeling, is considered to be one of the best works of the "grand" tradition. Since it's conception in 1984 it continues to grow in popularity and has been featured in a number of books and periodicals, including the following:
  • R. Wayne Schmittberger's New Rules for Classic Games, where it is compared favorably with Capablanca's and Lasker's experiments. The author concludes, "I believe [it] yields a better game."
  • David Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, where a lively sample game is offered. The author notes that, "Opportunities for sacrificial exchanges arrise frequently."
  • The spring 1996 issue of Variant Chess (issue 19). Malcolm Horne uses such terms as "significant improvement" (over Capablanca's version) and "lively play" to describe the game.
  • The August 1997 issue of USCF's Chess Life magazine featured the game.
  • A 1987 issue of Games Magazine also featured this variant.

Many of the participants of the 1996 Chess Olympiad in Armenia joined together to form an unofficial Freeling Grand Chess tournament. Most of these informal games, plus a selection of other sample games, a number of problems, and a very nice Java-interface can be found on Christian Freeling's WWW pages.


The 10x10 square array is as follows:

King e2; Queen d2; Marshall f2; Cardinal g2; Rook a1, j1; Knight b2, i2; Bishop c2, h2; Pawn a3, b3, c3, d3, e3, f3, g3, h3, i3, j3.

King e9; Queen d9; Marshall f9; Cardinal g9; Rook a10, j10; Knight b9, i9; Bishop c9, h9; Pawn a8, b8, c8, d8, e8, f8, g8, h8, i8, j8.


The Marshall has the combined moves of Rook and Knight.

The Cardinal has the combined moves of Bishop and Knight.

All other pieces are as in Orthodox Chess.


  1. Pawns have an initial two-step move option and are subject to en passant capture.
  2. Castling is not possible.
  3. A Pawn may promote on reaching the 8th or 9th rank.
  4. A Pawn must promote on reaching the 10th rank.
  5. A Pawn can promote only to a friendly piece that has been captured, and for which it is exchanged.
  6. If no friendly piece has been captured, then a Pawn may not move beyond the 9th rank.
  7. An imobile Pawn on the 9th rank can still give check.
  8. Other rules are as in Orthodox Chess.

Computer Play

Grand Chess Program. A commercial program to play Grand Chess. (Link.)

This game can be played via email using our play by email server or on Richard's Play-By-eMail Server.


Grand Chess sets can be purchased at the Mindsports website.

Written by Hans Bodlaender. Edited by John William Brown.
WWW page created: November 4, 1996. Last modified: January 22, 2005.