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Ladorean Chess - Shaco Ladorean

by Bernhard U. Hermes


The Principality of Ladorea is a fictional country and a background for fantasy role playing for some friends of mine and myself. Since I am interested in chess variants, I have always wanted some kind of national variant of chess for Ladorea. The variant described below is this Ladorean Chess, and I give the piece names in the Ladorean language in addition to the English ones.

Please see the section Notes for credits.


frame frame frame frame frame frame frame frame frame frame frame frame
8 Rook a8 Bishop b8 Queen c8 Knight d8 King e8 Cardinal f8 Knight g8 Marshall h8 Bishop j8 Rook k8 frame
7 Pawn a7 Pawn b7 Pawn c7 Pawn d7 Pawn e7 Pawn f7 Pawn g7 Pawn h7 Pawn j7 Pawn k7 frame
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 j6 k6 frame
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 j5 k5 frame
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 j4 k4 frame
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 j3 k3 frame
2 Pawn a2 Pawn b2 Pawn c2 Pawn d2 Pawn e2 Pawn f2 Pawn g2 Pawn h2 Pawn j2 Pawn k2 frame
1 Rook a1 Bishop b1 Queen c1 Knight d1 King e1 Cardinal f1 Knight g1 Marshall h1 Bishop j1 Rook k1 frame
frame a b c d e f g h j k frame
8  |:r:| b |:q:| n |:k:| c |:n:| m |: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 |:C:| N |:M:| B |:R:|
     a   b   c   d   e   f   g   h   j   k    

C/c = Cardinal, M/m = Marshall



Ladorean Chess uses all the pieces of Orthodox Chess plus two more, called Cardinal and Marshall. The number of pawns is increased by two on each side.

All pieces from Orthodox Chess move as usual, the Cardinal is a compound of Bishop and Knight, and the Marshall is a compound of Rook and Knight.


Aside from differences in board (with letters from "a" - "k", omitting the "i"), pieces, and setup (with white square in the lower-left corner), Ladorean Chess is played like Orthodox Chess with the following differences:
  • When a King castles, it moves two or more spaces queenside or marshallside 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 Orthodox 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.
  • When a Pawn promotes, it may promote to a Knight, Bishop, Rook, Cardinal, Marshall or Queen.


Ladorean Chess is one of many members of the family of games that includes Carrera's Chess, Bird's Chess, Capablanca's Chess and Grotesque Chess.

They all could, at least as far as their setup goes, be called variants of Capablanca Random Chess. I consider the setup of Ladorean Chess within the general rules of Capablanca Random Chess as something special, and I can say so in all humility, because I was not the one to discover it - to my knowledge, it was first described by Fergus Duniho in a comment to his Grotesque Chess, where he mentioned that he thought about using it instead of the setup that now has become the one for Grotesque Chess.

He since has decided against using this setup for Grotesque Chess, and he kindly agreed on its use for Ladorean Chess. Also the castling rule of Ladorean Chess is the same one he described for Grotesque Chess.

What I like about the initial position of the pieces is:

  • No Pawns are unprotected.
  • The Knights are close to the center.
  • The compound pieces are positioned with the weakest in the middle, and those that can move like Rooks separated.
  • King and Queen are both initially on squares of their own colour.
  • It is (to me) aesthetically pleasing to imagine the Queen and the Marshall taking command over half of the battle field, with the King together with a Cardinal as his advisor in the middle.
This page uses the very nice Alfaerie Variant Chess Graphics by David Howe.

I dedicate Ladorean Chess to my daughter, Debora U. Hermes, whose questions and comments have very much helped shaping Ladorea as a country.


To play Ladorean Chess, you need a 10 x 8 board. You can easily make one using the instructions in the article Ribbon Boards by Fergus Duniho.

If you wish to use numbers and letters, it is recommended that you leave out the letter "i", thus making the last three letters "h, j, k". This should make notations of games more easily readable.

As pieces for Cardinal and Marshall, you could use a Bishop and a Rook from a larger set of Chess pieces, however, I recommend a look at How to Make Some Fairy Chess Pieces. I plan to use Piece 1 from that article for the Marshall and Piece 3 for the Cardinal.

There are many more great ideas in the craft section.

Computer Play

Presently, there is no .zrf for Ladorean Chess. However, considering the fact that rule files exist for very similar variants, it should not be too difficult to adapt one of these, if there is anyone interested in doing so.
Since I do not have a copy of the Zillions-program and do not know how to program for it, I can not help with that.

If a rule file for Zillions, or any other form of computer based play for Ladorean chess comes into existence, I would very much welcome the editors of to inform about it on this page.