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The Piececlopedia is intended as a scholarly reference concerning the history and naming conventions of pieces used in Chess variants. But it is not a set of standards concerning what you must call pieces in newly invented games.

Piececlopedia: Gnu

Historical notes

The Gnu is a piece that combines the movement possibilities of the Knight and Camel, and named after an African ungulate. It has been used in fairy chess problems - in 1939, a mate in two problem with a Gnu by W. Karsch was published in Fairy Chess Review, but I do not know if this is the first appearance of the piece. The Gnu also occurs in several large variants on these pages including Ganymede Chess and Io Chess by Mark Hedden; and Bachelor Kamil, Ecumenical Chess, and Wildeurasian Qi by Charles Gilman. It appears under the name Wildebeest, another name for the same animal, in Wildebeest Chess by Wayne Schmittberger and Promo Chess by Glenn Overby.


The gnu can either move two squares in one orthogonal direction and then one in the other orthogonal direction, (like a knight), or three squares in one orthogonal direction and then one in the other orthogonal direction (a stretched knights-move). When moving, the gnu jumps, i.e., the move can be completed regardless whether the intervening squares are occupied. Like the King, it is a triangulating compound. That is to say, its longer move is equivalent to two of its shorter ones at right angles, so that it can return to a cell in three moves, in this case a Camel move and two Knight moves. In contrast neither the Knight nor the Camel can return to a square in an odd number of moves.

Movement diagram

The Gnu can move to any square with a black circle, regardless whether squares he passes over are occupied or not.


This piece generally cannot force checkmate against a bare king.

This is an item in the Piececlopedia: an overview of different (fairy) chess pieces.
Reference: G. Jellis, Notes on Generalized Chess, Variant Chess vol. 1, issue 1, p. 8-9, 1990.
Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: May 30, 1999.