Check out Chess with Different Armies, our featured variant for July, 2024.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Fergus Duniho.

Grotesque Chess


Grotesque Chess is offered as a new member of the family of games that includes Carrera's Chess, Bird's Chess, and Capablanca's Chess. Unlike these games, it leaves no Pawn unprotected by a piece when the game starts.


When JavaScript is running, this static image will be replaced with an Interactive Diagram

8  | r |:b:| q |:n:| k |:g:| n |:e:| b |:r:|  
7  |:p:| p |:p:| p |:p:| p |:p:| p |:p:| p |  
6  |   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|  
5  |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |  
4  |   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|  
3  |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |  
2  | P |:P:| P |:P:| P |:P:| P |:P:| P |:P:|  
1  |:R:| B |:Q:| N |:K:| G |:N:| E |:B:| R |  
     a   b   c   d   e   f   g   h   i   j    

E/e = Equerry, G/g = Guard

promoChoice=NBRQEG symmetry=mirror satellite=wizard files=10 ranks=8 graphicsDir=/play/pbm/showpiece.php?set=abstract%26piece= whitePrefix=W blackPrefix=B lightShade=#CCCC11 darkShade=#339933 rimColor=#FFFFF0 coordColor=#000000 squareSize=50 firstRank=1 borders=1 useMarkers=1 Pawn:P:ifmnDfmWfceF:P:a2,b2,c2,d2,e2,f2,g2,h2,i2,j2,,a7,b7,c7,d7,e7,f7,g7,h7,i7,j7 Knight:N:N:N:d1,g1,,d8,g8 Bishop:B:B:B:b1,i1,,b8,i8 Rook:R:R:R:a1,j1,,a8,j8 Queen:Q:Q:Q:c1,,c8 Equerry:E:NB:A:h1,,h8 Guard:G:NR:M:f1,,f8 King:K:KisO2isO3irO4:K:e1,,e8 royal=8 stalemate=draw enableAI=2










Grotesque Chess uses all the pieces of Chess plus two more, known as the Equerry and Guard. All pieces from Chess move as in Chess, except that flexible castling is allowed and Pawns have two more promotion options. Just as the Queen is a compound of Rook and Bishop, the Guard is a compound of Rook and Knight, and the Equerry is a compound of Bishop and Knight. Together, these three pieces comprise all the compounds of two minor pieces.


Aside from differences in board, pieces, and setup, Grotesque Chess is played like FIDE Chess with the following differences:

  1. When a King castles, it may move two or more spaces toward the Rook, and the Rook leaps over the King to the closest space the King has just passed over, so that King and Rook end up adjacent to each other. The usual castling conditions from Chess apply. A King may not castle from or through check, all spaces between the Rook and King must be empty, and neither piece may have moved before.
  2. When a Pawn promotes, it may promote to a Knight, Bishop, Rook, Queen, Equerry, or Guard.

Reverse Symmetry Variation

Kevin Pacey has recommended a reverse symmetry variation in which Black's pieces are placed in the opposite order of White's. This has the advantage that the Guards will not develop and be exchanged right away. However, it does make it easier for the Equerries to develop and be exchanged right away.

With that in mind, I might recommend this slightly asymmetrical variation in which only the King and Guard change position. As with the original setup, no Pawn is left undefended. By placing more of Black's most powerful pieces on White's King's side, it may make up for the first move advantage that White has.

Computer Play

If you have version 2.0 of Zillions of Games installed on your computer, you can play this game. Download file:

You can also play Grotesque Chess against other people online using Game Courier.


Photograph of Grotesque Chess

The board shown above is made from cut-up mouse-pad style boards. See the Chess variant construction set page for further details.

The extra pieces are black and natural colored Chancellors and Archbishops from the Musketeer Chess variant kit.

Written by Fergus Duniho.
WWW page created: September 20, 2004