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

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

Elephant Hunt

By Freederick



Elephant Hunt is a traditional game played by the Ituri Pygmies. The board is usually marked on the ground and rocks are used as playing tokens, a bigger rock signifying the Elephant. This ritual game is played among tribesmen to forecast the outcome of a planned elephant hunt. If the player of the Elephant wins, this is regarded as a bad omen and the hunt is postponed. The number of "Pygmies" trampled by the "Elephant" before it is brought down also has oracular significance.

The first written reference to the game of Elephant Hunt was found in the diaries of father Maurice Morceau, a French missionary who disappeared without a trace in 1821 while on a mission to the Ituri forest. His personal effects, including the diaries, were later found in a cannibal village by an anthropological expedition.


In Elephant Hunt, one player starts with eight Pygmy hunters, and one Shaman. The other has one large piece representing the Elephant. 

The game is played on a 10x10 board, which is a 5x5 board from the Elephant's perspective. The Shaman starts on a1, the Pygmies start on a3,a5,a7,a8,c1,e1,g1,h1, the Elephant starts on gh78; the Pygmies move first.


The Shaman (F2W2) moves 2 squares in any direction, orthogonal or diagonal. 

The Pygmies (N) leap like a chess knight. 

The Elephant (nD) moves orthogonally one big square at a time, which is equivalent to two small squares. 


The Elephant is so big that it occupies four squares of the board at once, and moves two squares at a time. The Elephant tramples the Pygmies by moving onto occupied squares. 

In order to kill the Elephant, the Pygmies must attack all four squares of it at once; in other words, all four squares occupied by the Elephant must be under attack (check) and then a move to one of these squares captures the Elephant and ends the game. The Elephant wins if it tramples Pygmies until only four are left.

Playing Tips

The general feel is similar to a Fox-and-Geese type game, except that the Pygmies' hunting formation should be much looser. 


Like all Fox-and-Geese games, Elephant Hunt should be easily winnable by the Pygmies if they are cleverly played. I suppose this was fine with the Ituri Pygmies, considering the original purpose of the game. If you have a workable idea how to modify this game to make it more balanced, please comment.

Computer Play

I wrote this game's ZRF in order to better understand how to implement "multi-square" pieces, such as the Dev in Köksal Karakus' "Giant Chess". I'm still working on the Giant Chess implementation. The biggest obstacle, which I haven't satisfactorily resolved, is not the move generation, but the lousy way Zillions handles overlapping graphics. I tried several kludges only to discard them as unworkable. If anyone has an idea how to handle this, please let me know. I don't want to break the Elephant up into four pieces, since this would be 1. vexing to the game engine 2. unpleasant to handle for the player (you'd be forced to pick this piece up by a specific corner) 3. ugly (piece moving and sliding off board on being captured in four slices).

If you have Zillions of Games installed on your computer, you can play this game. Download file at the below link.