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

Save the Standard

The Gold and Red Battle Standards are each under attack by superior enemy forces. The Standard must be brought to a safe Haven, or the enemy Standard captured.

Save the Standard draws heavily upon the Tafl family of games which were once played widely across Northern Europe.

The basic Tafl core has been extended by making it bi-regal and symmetrical (and thus more chess-like) and by adding the Cavalry piece.


The board is constructed from two Tafl boards giving each side a home field. Each side's Standard starts on the 'Hill', the coloured yellow or pink central square of their home field, and is defended by Infantry. The enemy forces attacking the Standard include both Infantry and Cavalry.

The two home fields are separated by a river (blue squares) which is spanned by 3 bridges (brown squares). Only Infantry may occupy these bridges or use them to move between the fields. The Standards and Cavalry are thus confined to the field in which they start.

Board sizes vary and two starting arrays are illustrated: one with a home field 7x7; and one where the home field is 13x13.


Each side has 1 Standard, a small number of Cavalry pieces and a larger number of Infantry.(See under Notes for comments on the number of pieces per side).


The Standards and Infantry move like a Rook in chess, that is, any number of squares horizontally or vertically in an unobstructed straight line.

Cavalry move in a similar way but have the added option of ending their move by making a single step at right-angles to the main line of movement into an adjacent unoccupied square.

Infantry may not land on any Hill or Haven square though they may pass over them.


The two sides are Red and Gold.

The object for both sides is to be first either to capture the enemy standard or get their own to safety on one of the coloured (yellow for the Gold side, pink for the Red) corner squares or Havens.

Play starts with Gold moving an attacking piece from the Red home field. Red then moves a defending piece from the Red home field followed by moving an attacking piece from the Gold home field. Gold then makes two moves, the first a defender (Gold home field); the second an attacker (Red home field). Play then alternates, each side making two moves of defender followed by attacker.


When a move is made that surrounds an enemy Infantry or Cavalry piece on two opposite sides the trapped enemy is captured and taken from the board.
Cavalry occupying a Hill or Haven square may also be captured by a Standard using the normal Chess method of capture by replacement.
To capture the Standard, it must be surrounded on all four sides.

The Hill and Haven squares, if not occupied by an enemy piece, act like friendly pieces, so a line of a friendly piece, opponent Infantry or Cavalry, and Hill or Haven square also results in a capture.


Pieces per side

For the two board sizes used here I have taken:

Defending Infantry = Number of ranks - 1
Attacking Infantry Equivalent = 2 x Defending Infantry
Attacking Infantry Equivalent = Attacking Infantry + (2 x Attacking Cavalry)
Attacking Infantry = 4 x Attacking Cavalry

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 Graeme C Neatham.
Web page created: 2007-07-03. Web page last updated: 2007-07-03