The Chess Variant Pages
Custom Search

Exhaustive Ashtaranga


It is some time since I first had the idea of a variant with the pieces of my Courier Kamil and Courier Ashtaranga but in enough numbers for each type to cover the board. The response to Dai Mitregi's double front rank made me dissatisfied with the a 12x12 variant that I had in mind, and when Macrochess came along I worried that the variant that I was considering resembled it too closely.

Then I realised that so large a board was not required for my purposes. Array armies averaged out as weaker than many 12x12 variants (for example no compound capturable pieces), so it would make sense to have a greater density of them. I therefore slimmed down the double front rank to a single mixed one with the same noncapturing moves as, but opposite capturing ones to, Mitregi's, and likewise reduced the four empty middle ranks to two. That raised the density from two-thirds (96 pieces on 144 squares) to three-quarters (72 pieces on 96 squares). Paradoxically it brought me right back to the Courier board, 8 ranks by 12 files, though with 50% more pieces averaging half a rank further forward.

What I did not change was the arrangement of the symmetric pieces, which was closely modelled on my Courier variants but with the stronger of two adjacent pieces stacked behind the weaker where an increase in numbers was not required to cover the board. With two front ranks the fourth-rank pieces (Yeomen) would have been fully protected by the third-rank ones (Pawns, with initial double-step move). I noticed that the outermost Yeomen were left unguarded; no matter, moving the inner front Elephants early on opens up the Bishop line to protect them.



Innermost-file array pieces:
The KING moves one step in any of the 8 radial directions, and must be kept out of Check.
The WAZIR moves one step orthogonally.
The FERZ moves one step diagonally.
Intermediate-file array pieces:
The CAMEL makes any 3:1 leap, and cannot be blocked.
The BISHOP moves any distance diagonally through empty squares.
The ELEPHANT moves exactly two squares in any of the 4 diagonal directions. The version used in this variant is a leaping one, and the halfway square may be empty or occupied.
Outer-file array pieces:
The KNIGHT makes any 2:1 leap, and cannot be blocked.
The ROOK moves any distance orthogonally through empty squares.
The DABBABA moves exactly two squares in any of the 4 orthogonal directions. The version used in this variant is a leaping one, and the halfway square may be empty or occupied.
Front-rank pieces: forward.
The PAWN moves one step orthogonally forward except when capturing, which it does one step diagonally forward.
The YEOMAN moves one step diagonally forward except when capturing, which it does one step orthogonally
Promotee-only pieces
The QUEEN is the compound of Rook and Bishop, and is familiar throughout Europe and the Americas.
The GNU is the compound of Knight and Camel, widely used in Chess variants as an enhanced Knight or as the Queen's oblique-leaper counterpart.
The PRINCE is a capturable compound of Wazir and Ferz. It occurs in Courier but at the expense of the Ferz itself covering only half the board.
The ALIBABA is the compound of Dabbaba and Elephant. It has been used as an enhanced Elephant.


There is no initial double-step move or En Passant.

Castling involves the King moving to either inner rear Elephant's square and the corresponding Rook moving to the Bishop's square. Usual restrictions apply. If the Dabbaba has not moved either the King can (but need not) continue to the Rook square within the same move, with the Dabbaba moving to the outer rear Elephant square. Castling with a Dabbaba directly from the King square is not allowed.

Pawns and Yeomen reaching the far rank must be promoted to Queen, Gnu, Prince, or Alibaba.

Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate are standard. A player can also win by having a Queen, Gnu, Prince, and Alibaba on the board at the same time.


The variant can be played with a large and two small standard sets. Large pieces (Queen apart) as themselves, large Queen as Wazir, small Queens as Ferzes, small Rooks as Dabbabas, small Bishops/Knights as Elephants, small Kings as Camels, small Pawns as Yeomen, and the usual improvisation of promotees!

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2007-02-04. Web page last updated: 2016-03-31