The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, Jean-Louis Cazaux.

Tamerlane II

This Chess Variant is inspired by Timur's or Tamerlane's Chess . It is intended to replace the earlier version of Tamerlane II, which competed in the Large Chess Variant Contest in 1999, with a modest result. Then, several changes have been implemented in an attempt to improve this modern large chess.



Initial Setup

The board has 11 x 11 squares. The 11 files respect the original configuration of Tamerlane's chess with a central king. The 11 ranks give more space to the game allowing to arrange the piece before struggling. Moreover, they place Bishops and Camels on same colors allowing attack of opposite counterparts and mutual protection.

There are 28 pieces per side: 1 King, 2 Princes, 2 Ships, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights, 2 Elephants, 2 Camels, 2 Cannons and 11 Pawns.

Moves And Captures

King, Bishop, Knight and Pawn are orthodox.

The Ship is more limited than the Gryphon from Grande Ajedrez which can move horizontally. Nevertheless its move power is comparable to the Rook and the Bishop. The Ship is inspired by the Giraffe from Tamerlane's chess and the Gryphon from "Grande Acedrex".

There is no Queen at the start of the game. This piece may appear later on by promotion.

Other Rules

End Of Game

Victory is obtained when the opposite King is checkmated with no possibility to be replaced.

All other types of endgame (pat, perpetual check,...) are classic.

Another variant : Wild Tamerlane Chess

The fact that strong pieces can only appear after promotion gives an original taste to this large Chess Variant. However, for those looking for strategies around "bloody" battles, it could be interesting to try a simple variant where Princes and Ship are replaced by Queens and Gryphons from the initial set-up.


You can play either Tamerlane 2000 or Wild Tamerlane with the following zrf file designed by Jean-Louis Cazaux. (providing you own Zillions-of-games software.). However, the Prince crowning is not implemented for programming reasons.

Shako and Perfect 12 are two other related game of my invention. Perfect 12 is probably my preferred however.

Differences between Tamerlane 2000 and Tamerlane II

Here is the list of the changes made in this attempt to improve the game:

1) Pawn can promote to Queen on last row. This gives more power to the Pawn. The rule of promoting to any captured piece is unfair since it is a penalty for the strong player who still has many pieces on the board. Promotion to Queen only is an appreciated simplification in this game where there are a lot of different piece types.

2) Princes replace Fers and Wazir. It is a good simplification with1 piece instead of 2 different. Also, the Prince is much more interesting than the Fers and the Wazir which are very limited and weak pieces.

3) Princes promote to Queen on 1st opposite rank. The reason is to make this more likely to happen: the Prince is starting one rank behind the Pawn and can not benefit from a double step. Then, going to the last row would have been a too long trip.

4) Ships can promote to Gryphon on opposite board corners. This gives an interesting possibility with these pieces which are very powerful longitudinally but are rather slow to move laterally. Once promoted, the Gryphon is a dreadful piece which can terminate the game very quickly.

5) Castling is suppressed. It was very rare anyway since there are 4 pieces to remove between the King and the Rook.

6) Non-capturing shift of Bishop, Camel and Elephant is suppressed. It was an unnecessary complication which made the game very unusual and difficult to master. Now, the player has just to remember that dark squares are controlled by the Bishops and light squares by the Camels and the Elephants.

Additional remarks

Below, you find a photo made by Jean-Luc Muraro of the set of this game, designed and made by Jean-Louis Cazaux. If you click on the picture, you can see it in large size.

Written by Jean-Louis Cazaux.
WWW page created June 05, 2000. Modified on March 18 2001, thanks to Ivan A Derzanski for corrections.