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Mad Scientist Chess

By Peter Aronson

Perhaps I've edited one too many Ralph Betza contributions lately, or maybe I've spent too much time reading Phil and Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius, but this has popped into my head and won't go away.


In Mad Scientist Chess, the King on each side is replaced by a Mad Scientist, which while it moves and captures like a King, can also create and modify monsters. But to create and modify monsters a Mad Scientist must have parts! Where do they come from? Why from the pieces on the board -- either side. Mad Scientists are not fussy.

In a way, Mad Scientist Chess could be considered a form of Chessgi, but when a captured piece is put into hand, it is broken down into parts first. (Better wear gloves.)

General Rules

Rule Zero covers most things. However, Mad Scientists ignore check and must be actually captured (they ignore danger -- they are mad, after all). So there's no checkmate or stalemate.


All starting pieces other than Kings and Pawns are made up of parts. There are four types of parts:

  • Crabs, which make a narrow Knight's move forward, and a wide Knight's move back.

  • Barcs, which make a wide Knight's move forward, and a narrow Knight's move back.

  • Ferzs, which move one square on any diagonal.

  • Wazirs, which move one square orthogonally.

If two of the same part are combined in the same piece, it becomes a rider: so a Rook consists of two Wazirs as it is a Wazir rider. A piece with two Crab parts and two Barc parts would be a Nightrider. The starting pieces contain the following parts:
Knight Crab + Barc
Bishop 2 * Ferz
Rook 2 * Wazir
Queen 2 * Ferz + 2 * Wazir
While Pawns are not made of parts, a good Mad Scientists can make use of nearly anything. When a Pawn is captured, it becomes the type of part that was responsible for the capture. That is, if is captured by a diagonal move, it becomes a Ferz-type part, by an orthogonal move it becomes a Wazir-type part, by a Crab-move a Crab-type part, and by a Barc-move a Barc-type part.

There is limited part storage! A Mad Scientist may have a maximum of eight parts in hand. Parts in excess of eight must be discarded at the end of a player's move (either new or old parts may be discarded, so long as there are only eight or less parts in hand when the move is done).

Mad Science!

A Mad Scientist has the following special powers, each of which requires a move to use:

  • They may take a part in hand (remember the gloves!), and animate it as a new Crab, Barc, Wazir or Ferz. It is dropped in an empty square adjacent to the Mad Scientist, and acts like a normal piece thereafter.

  • They may take a piece in hand, and attach it to an adjacent piece of either side. That piece now has the power of that piece: attaching a Wazir piece to a Bishop would produce a piece that could step one square in any direction or slide diagonally. You may not attach more than two parts of the same type to the same piece. Pawns and Mad Scientists may not have parts attached to them. If you attach a part to an opponent's piece it remains under your opponent's control.

  • They may remove a single piece from an adjacent piece of either side, putting it in hand. However, they may not remove parts from opposing pieces that are currently attacking them. Single part pieces are entirely removed by this ability. However, Pawns and Mad Scientists don't have parts, and are not affected by this power.


This game is probably best played with stackable cardboard counters marked with the part types and some sort of ownership marker. Thus, at the start of play the Queen would be represented by a stack of two Ferz counters and two Wazir counters. You could use color-coded Icehouse pieces with a white or black cap piece to determine side, but since you could have a piece with as many as eight parts, this could get a bit unwieldy.

Computer Play

This game could be programmed for Zillions of Games, but since this would require definining something like 50 different types of pieces, and as I try to have a life, I haven't bothered.

Written by Peter Aronson.
WWW page created: January 17th, 2003.