The Chess Variant Pages
Play Your Own Chess Variants on Game Courier

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

Maces and Horse-apults

Maces and Horse-apults, by Gary K. Gifford, March 9, 2008

White side of the 10x10 setup.

Preset is here.

Win by capturing the opponent's king.

This is a simple 10x10 variant that is like Fide Chess with exception of setup, no castling, board size, that you capture the opponent's King, and the addition of two non-traditional pieces: (a) the Mace and (b) the Horse-apult. Because of the Horse-apult, it is possible for a piece to be flung to another square (instead of making its normal move). This is discussed in the rules.

I am not aware of any special inspiration for this game. Though Catapults of Troy may have given rise to the Horse-apult.


As above, with black pieces mirroring whites.


Standard Chess Pieces plus 2 Maces per side and 2 Horse-apults per side.

Pawns can promote to any non-king piece.

Maces: Move as do kings. But DO NOT capture as do Kings. Instead, on every turn [including the turn it just moved; and even on turns when it does not move] both of your Maces [assuming you still have two] swing at an enemy piece automatically. So, even if you move a different piece, your Maces will each automatically take out an enemy if at least one enemy is adjacent to it.

MPORTANT: The Mace will remove a piece or pawn, even if the removal of that unit would expose your King to check. So you need to take that into account. This can be a good thing as it (a) removes an enemy piece, and (b) the mace swing is a "free move" so you still get to move something else.

IMPORTANT: Realize that it is hardly ever a good decision to move a pawn or piece next to an enemy Mace.

Horse-apult: Move as do Kings. And capture by displacement. However, instead of moving the Horse-apult, you can use it to throw one adjacent piece or pawn [friend or foe]to a vacant square one Knight's move away from itself.

Bishops - Note that if a Horse-apult is adjacent to a Bishop (friend or foe) and on the same color as the Bishop, it can pult the Bishop to a square the will have the Bishop change colors, for example, a light-square Bishop would suddenly find itself operating on the dark diagonals after such a pult. In regard to pulting an enemy Bishop, in most cases the Horse-apult would just capture it... but you could pult the enemy Bishop instead. The rules include examples for these two pieces.


Much like chess. Win by capturing an opponent's King or forcing resignation. Draws and stalemates are possible.

Note: Because of the Horse-apult, you can end up having you own pawns on your first and second ranks. Such pawns can move one or two spaces from ranks one and two. When they reach the third rank (the normal starting point for pawns in this game) they can again move one or two spaces. Pawns can be captured en passant when moving two spaces (regardless of whether they move 2 from the fist, second, or third rank).

Horse-apults are a special type of catapult. They can move and capture as does a King; or they can throw an adjacent piece or pawn [friend or foe] one knight's move away from their location. So, for example. On White's very first move the Horse-apult on b2 has these options available:

(a) do nothing (you move something else)

(b) move the Horse-apult from b2 to a2 or to b1

(c) throw any one of the following adjacent pieces to a4, c4, or d1 (as each square is vacant and is a knight's distance away from b2)

a pawn from a3, b3, or c3; the mace from a1; the knight from c1

Maces move as do kings; but they do not and cannot capture by displacement. Instead, a Mace removes one enemy piece that is adjacent to it. And this happens on each turn. Note that you can move one of your pawns or pieces before declaring your mace effect. Also note that a player's two Maces swing at the enemy on each turn. These swings do not count as moves.


In this example it is White's move: His Mace on c6 will automatically remove the Queen, Knight, or Pawn adjacent to it. The White player decides. However, that Mace swing is a free move (the Mace swings every turn). What is important to note is that White's Horse-apult can toss his h6 Mace to g9 where it instantly maces the blue king (removing it from the board and winning the game).

Question: If White was in check could he ignore it and still Mace the King?

Answer: Yes. Since white will capture the black king, the check is useless.

Question: In the Mace example, wouldn't the Black Mace on h9 instantly destroy the White mace?

Answer: No, Not instantly. On Black's turn the Black Mace would Destroy the White Mace automatically, but the Black King is already gone. Note that White could have used his White Mace to take out the Black Mace... but instead he removed the Black King to win the game.

IMPORTANT: Realize that a Horse-apult can throw one of your pawns or pieces next to a Mace. If your King gets tossed next to an enemy Mace it's "Game Over" as long as that Mace did not yet remove a piece or pawn. Note: When a player moves a Mace, a mace effect is included on that same turn. So be careful because an enemy Mace can move next to yours and remove it.

A lesson in closing:

In this example White has played Queen to g9. It looks like checkmate, but- remember, in this game you must capture the King. Black does not worry, he can use his Horse-apult to toss the i6 Mace to h9 and instantly remove the Queen. Or he can move his other Mace from i9 to h9 and remove the Queen.


Clarifications to the rules and other examples will be added, if needed. Grammatical errors and typos will be corrected when discovered.

(1) Question: If a Mace moves, does he remove a piece from where he was and then move? Or does he move first?

Answer: The removed piece must be adjacent to the Mace at its final resting place. If he stays still, he removes one adjacent piece. But, if he moves, then he removes one enemy piece that is adjacent to his new home.

(2) Question: If a King is in check, can he be Horse-apulted to get out of check?

Answer: Yes. There is no reason the King should not be allowed this bold method of escape.

(3) Question: I cannot help to wonder what the game would be like if the Maces could not capture pawns.

Answer: Refer to the sister game, "Maces, Shields, and Horse-apults." A link is included below.

(4) Question: Can I pult a Bishop to an opposite color square?

Answer: Yes. The Horse-apult will need to be adjacent to the Bishop. If the Horse-apult is on the same color square, then the pulting will result in the Bishop operating on the opposite color diagonals. If the Horse-apult is on a different color [than the Bishop] then pulting will result in no change of operating diagonal colors, due to the knight-toss aspect.

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By Gary K. Gifford.
Web page created: 2008-03-09. Web page last updated: 2008-03-09