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The Sultan's Game


Invented circa 1815 by a councillor in Berlin by the name of Peguilhen, (possibly Ernest-Frédéric von Lavergne-Peguilhen), this game, as well as a slightly smaller version, were first described in 1819 in the first volume of Archiv der Spiele. Although the author of this work was anonymous, he writes that he did personally meet with Peguilhen, and that these games were created a few years previous. It was later described by Ludwig Tressan of Leipzig in his 1840 work Das Schachspiel, seine Gattungen und Abarten, (The Game of Chess, its Types and Varieties), which may be the first book ever devoted entirely to chess variants.


The game is played on an 11 by 11 board with light colored squares in all four corners. In addition to the usual Chess pieces, each player has a Marshall, a Commander, an Adjudant, and three extra Pawns. The game starts with the following opening setup. Notice the Knights and Bishops are reversed on one side so that both Bishops are not on the same color.

files=11 ranks=11 satellite=sultan graphicsDir=/graphics.dir/alfaeriePNG35/ promoZone=1 maxPromote=1 squareSize=35 graphicsType=png lightShade=#FFFFCC darkShade=#E8A800 rimColor=#804545 coordColor=#E8A800 borders=0 firstRank=1 useMarkers=1 promoChoice=*C*Q*M*A*R*B*N symmetry=mirror pawn::fmWfceFifmnDifmnH::a2-k2 knight:N:::c1,j1 bishop::::b1,i1 rook::::a1,k1 adjudant::BN:cardinal:h1 marshall::RN:chancellor:d1 queen::::g1 commander::QN:amazon:e1 king::KisO4::f1

King f1; Queen g1; Commander e1; Marshall d1; Adjudant h1; Rook a1, k1; Knight c1, j1; Bishop b1, i1; Pawn a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2, i2, j2, k2.

King f11; Queen g11; Commander e11; Marshall d11; Adjudant h11; Rook a11, k11; Knight c11, j11; Bishop b11, i11; Pawn a10, b10, c10, d10, e10, f10, g10, h10, i10, j10, k10.

Initial Setup:


The Marshall has the combined moves of Rook and Knight.

The Adjudant has the combined moves of Bishop and Knight.

The Commander has the combined moves of Queen and Knight (thus, it can move as Rook, Bishop, or Knight).


Pawns may make a double or triple step for their first move, so a white Pawn on e2 can move to e3, e4, or e5 (or capture at d3 or f3). At each squares passed over, the Pawn can be taken en passant. Pawns can promote to Commander, Queen, Adjudant, Marshall, Rook, Knight, or Bishop, but only to a piece that has been previously captured.

A player can castle under the same conditions as orthodox chess. When castling, both the rook and the king move four squares in each others directions (thus rook and king do not end up at adjacent positions after castling.)

Other rules are as in orthodox chess.


John Gollon, well known by chess variant enthousiasts for his book on chess variants, now unfortunately out of print, was working on a second book on chess variants. Also unfortunately, this second book was never published. Gollon has sent some materials from a draft of the book to Eric Greenwood in 1976.

An earlier version of this page was based on that text. It has now been updated with new information from A World of Chess, by Jean-Louis Cazaux and Rick Knowlton. The invention of this game was previously attributed to L. Tressan of Leipzig. Tressan published a book describing it, but did not invent it.

Written by Greg Strong, based upon A World of Chess by Jean-Louis Cazaux and Rick Knowlton.
WWW page created: 1997-09-01.
WWW page updated: 2021-05-11.