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This page is written by the game's inventor, Bob Greenwade. This game is a favorite of its inventor.

Short Sliders

(and the Leapers Who Love Them)

That's a lot of pieces for a bunch that don't move very far. But there's a method to my madness (as well as vice versa).

I was so used to the traditional Pawn promotion in chess that I had a hard time figuring out how some pieces (especially in Shogi and other games) could promote more than once. I managed to wrap my brain around it, though, and I immediately thought of this.

Short Sliders (and the Leapers Who Love Them) features pieces that are just exactly that: they're limited to sliding only a certain number of spaces. They may start with just one or two, but they graduate to half-board, and some reach the unlimited slides that we're used to seeing.


The game is played on a board 12 spaces wide by 16 spaces deep.

Each player gets four rows of twelve pieces each. To start out with the traditional 50% of squares empty, there are sixteen rows, but twelve columns.

The back row (Royal Row) is: Short Rook, Knight, Short Bishop, Sorcerer, Guard, Lady-in-Waiting, King, Guard, Wizard, Short Bishop, Knight, Short Rook (Black is mirrored)

Second row: Dolphin, Walrus, Leon, Jackal, Archer, Turtle, Turtle, Archer, Jackal, Leon, Walrus, Dolphin

Third row: Marquis, Priest, Kirin, Phoenix, Hospitaller, Templar, Templar, Hospitaller, Phoenix, Kirin, Priest, Marquis

Fourth row (Pawn Row): Four Pawns, Four Berolinas, Four Pawns

(Of course, with this many new and unusual pieces, some improvisation with the Musketeer icons was required.)

Interactive Diagram

The Interactive Diagram below should enable you to play this variant, including promotions.

Caveat: In order to make this work, I had to use Unicode extensions of the Latin characters. This may cause problems with some systems, for which I apologize.


files=12 ranks=16 promoZone=4 maxPromote=2 promoChoice=*G,*W,*S,*Ḇ,*N,*Ṟ,*Ŧ,*A,*J,*Ļ,*Ẅ,*D,*T,*H,*Ṕ,*Ķ,*M,*Q1,*Ƃ1,*Þ1,*B1,*O1,*R1,*Ƀ1,*Ş1,*C1,*Ħ1,*E1,*Ţ1,*Ĥ1,*Ṁ1 graphicsDir=/cgi-bin/fen2.php?w=F9F9F9&b=338833&t=Greenwade&p= squareSize=50 graphicsType= lightShade=#B9B9B9 darkShade=#C2B280 symmetry=mirror pawn:P:ifmnDfmWfceF:pawn:a4,b4,c4,d4,i4,j4,k4,l4 berolina:Ꝕ:fmFfceWifnmA:berolina:e4,f4,g4,h4 lady in waiting:L:Q6:ladyinwaiting:f1 morph=Q/Q/Q/Q guard:G:KAD:guard:e1,h1 wizard:W:FC:wizard:i1 morph=Þ,/Þ,/Þ,/Þ, sorcerer:S:WZ:sorcerer:d1 morph=Þ,/Þ,/Þ,/Þ, short bishop:Ḇ:B6:shortbishop:c1,j1 morph=B/B/B/B knight:N:N:knight:b1,k1 morph=O/O/O/O short rook:Ṟ:R6:shortrook:a1,l1 morph=R/R/R/R turtle:Ŧ:Q4AD:turtle:f2,g2 archer:A:B3cabN:archer:e2,h2 jackal:J:GZ:jackal:d2,i2 morph=Ƀ,/Ƀ,/Ƀ,/Ƀ, leon:Ļ:CH:lion:c2,j2 morph=Ş,/Ş,/Ş,/Ş, walrus:Ẅ:B3mAmG:walrus:b2,k2 dolphin:D:R3mDmH:dolphin:a2,l2 templar:T:DN:templar:f3,g3 morph=C/C/C/C hospitaller:H:AN:hospitaller:e3,h3 morph=Ħ,/Ħ,/Ħ,/Ħ, phoenix:Ṕ:WA:phoenix:d3,i3 morph=E/E/E/E kirin:Ķ:FD:kirin:c3,j3 morph=Ţ,/Ţ,/Ţ,/Ţ, priest:Ṗ:FN:man--cross:b3,k3 morph=Ĥ,/Ĥ,/Ĥ,/Ĥ, marquis:M:WN:marquis:a3,l3 morph=Ṁ,/Ṁ,/Ṁ,/Ṁ, queen:Q:Q:queen: morph=Ḿ,/Ḿ,/Ḿ,/Ḿ, bodyguard:Ƃ:K2:bodyguard: thaumaturge:Þ:KCZ:charm: bishop:B:B:bishop: morph=Ḱ,/Ḱ,/Ḱ,/Ḱ, okapi:O:NZ:okapi: morph=Ḃ,/Ḃ,/Ḃ,/Ḃ, rook:R:R:rook: morph=Ṁ,/Ṁ,/Ṁ,/Ṁ, bongo:Ƀ:AGZNY:bongo: serval:Ş:DCHFX:serval: crusader:C:KDNH:crusader: healer:Ħ:KANG:healer: elephant:E:B6W:elephant: morph=Ḅ,/Ḅ,/Ḅ,/Ḅ, tiger:Ţ:R6F:tiger: morph=U/U/U/U high priest:Ĥ:FAN:highpriestess: morph=Â,/Â,/Â,/Â, minister:Ṁ:WDN:minister: morph=Ç,/Ç,/Ç,/Ç, malkia:Ḿ:QZ:malkia: kuhani:Kh:BZ:kuhani: big buffalo:Ḃ:NCZ:buffalo: mtawala:Ṁ:RZ:mtawala: little buffalo:Ḅ:B6WN:buffalo--narrow: unicorn:U:R6FN:unicorn: abbot:Â:B6N:abbot: castellan:Ç:R6N:castellan: king:K:KisO4:king:g1,,g16


The pieces are as described below. Paired pieces (45-degree counterparts) are listed together.

Starting Lineup

Individual pieces and special units include:

Archer: Moves three spaces diagonally, or rifle-captures (that is, captures without moving) at (1,2).

Berolina: [aka Berolina Pawn] Moves forward one space diagonally, or captures one space directly forward. As an opening move, may move forward two spaces diagonally. Promotes to a captured starter.

Guard: Moves one space in any direction. Promotes to Bodyguard.

King: Royal piece moving one space in any direction.

Knight: As in standard Chess, leaps (1,2). Promotes to Okapi.

Lady in Waiting: Moves up to six spaces either diagonally or orthogonally. Promotes to Queen.

Pawn: Moves as in standard Chess: Moves forward one space directly, or captures one space forward diagonally. As an opening move, may move directly forward two spaces. Promotes to a captured starter.

Turtle: Moves up to 4 spaces diagonally or orthogonally, or leaps 2 spaces in the same directions.


Paired units include:

Beast: Kirin & Phoenix: The Kirin moves one space diagonally, or leaps two spaces orthogonally. The Phoenix is the other way around. They promote to Tiger and Elephant, respectively.

Classic: Short Bishop & Short Rook: These slide up to six spaces diagonally or orthogonally, respectively. Promote to Bishop and Rook.

Leader: Marquis & Priest: The Marquis moves one space orthogonally, or leaps (1,2); the Priest moves one space diagonally, or leaps (1,2). They promote to Minister and High Priest, respectively.

Magic: Sorcerer & Wizard: The Sorcerer moves one square orthogonally, or leaps (2,3); the Wizard moves one square diagonally, or leaps (1,3). Either promotes to Thaumaturge, but only if the other has been captured.

Master Knight: Hospitaller & Templar: The Hospitaller leaps two spaces diagonally, or (1,2). The Templar leaps two spaces orthogonally, or (1,2). They promote to Healer and Crusader.

Savannah: Jackal & Leon: The Jackal leaps three spaces diagonally, or (2,3). The Leon (or Spanish Lion, or Little Lion) leaps three spaces orthogonally, or (1,3). They promote to Bongo and Serval, respectively.

Shoreline: Dolphin & Walrus: The Dolphin moves up to three spaces orthogonally, and may leap to the second or third space if not capturing. The Walrus does the same thing diagonally. Neither promotes (they're included here for completeness).


First Promotions

Individual pieces:

Bodyguard: Moves one or two spaces diagonally or orthogonally. Also, any sliding piece that enters any adjacent space immediately stops, and can only move one space as long as it's next to the Bodyguard. (This is called the Hia power, after the original Mongolian name for the piece, and does not affect leaping moves.)

Okapi: Leaps (1,2) or (2,3). Promotes to (Big) Buffalo.

Queen: As in standard Chess, moves any number of spaces diagonally or orthogonally. Promotes to Malkia.


Paired units:

Beast: Elephant & Tiger: The Elephant moves up to six spaces diagonally, or one space orthogonally; the Tiger does it the other way around. Promote to Little Buffalo and Unicorn, respectively.

Classic: Bishop & Rook: As in standard Chess, move diagonally or othogonallym, respectively, until an obstacle is reached. They promote to Archbishop or Chancellor, respectively.

Leader: High Priest & Minister: Moves one space or leaps two spaces diagonally or orthogonally, respectively, or leaps (1,2). Promote to Abbot or Castellan, respectively.

Magic: Thaumaturge: Moves to any adjacent space, or leaps (1,3) or (2,3). (Technically not a "pair," but part of the Sorcerer's and Wizard's progression.) Does not promote.

Master Knight: Crusader & Healer: The Crusader moves to any adjacent space, or leaps two or three spaces orthogonally or (1,2); the Healer moves to any adjacent space, or leaps two or three spaces diagonally or (1,2). Do not promote.

Savannah: Bongo & Serval: [striped antelope & far-leaping feline] The Bongo leaps two or three spaces diagonally, or (2,3) or (3,4). The Serval leaps two or three spaces orthogonally, or leaps (1,3) or (1,4). Do not promote.


Second Promotions

Individual pieces:

(Big) Buffalo: Leaps (1,2), (1,3), or (2,3).

Malkia: [Swahili "Queen"] Moves any distance diagonally or orthogonally, or leaps (2,3).


Paired units:

Beast: Little Buffalo & Unicorn: The Little Buffalo moves up to six spaces diagonally, one orthogonally, or leaps (1,2); the Unicorn moves up to six spaces orthogonally, one diagonally, or leaps (1,2).

Classic: Kuhani & Mtawala: [Swahili "Priest" and "Administrator"/"Governor"] Moves any distance diagonally or orthogonally, repsectively, or leaps (2,3).

Leader: Abbot & Castellan: Moves up to six spaces diagonally or orthogonally, respectively, or leaps (1,2).


Reference Tables

On these tables, where a piece's normal symbol is two characters long, I've also included an alternate one-character symbol (using Latin extensions) for those who prefer that, or for situations where that's easier to work with.

Table of two-promotion pieces
Pair Start Symbol Move 1st Promo Symbol Move 2nd Promo Symbol Move
Beast Kirin Kr / Ķ FD Tiger Ti / Ţ R6F Unicorn U R6FN
Phoenix Ph / Ṕ WA Elephant E B6W Little Buffalo Bl / Ḅ B6WN
  Knight N N Okapi O NZ (Big) Buffalo Bf / Ḃ NCZ
  Lady in Waiting L Q6 Queen Q Q Malkia Mk / Ḿ QZ
Leader Marquis M WN Minister Mn / Ṁ WDN Castellan Cs / Ç R6N
Priest Pr / Ṗ FN High Priest Hp / Ĥ FAN Abbot Ab / Â B6N
Classic Short Bishop Bs / Ḇ B6 Bishop B B Kuhani Kh / Ḱ BZ
Short Rook Rs / Ṟ R6 Rook R R Mtawala Mt / Ṁ RZ
Table of one-promotion pieces
Pair Start Symbol Move Promo Symbol Move
  Guard G K Bodyguard Bg / Ƃ K2 (+)
Master Knight Hospitaller H AN Healer Hl / Ħ KANG
Templar T DN Crusader C KDNH
Savannah Jackal J GZ Bongo Bo / Ƀ AGZNY
Leon Ln / Ļ CH Serval Sv / Ş DCHFX
Magic Sorcerer S WZ Thuamaturge Th / Þ KCZ
Wizard W FC
List of other pieces
Pair Name Symbol Move
  Archer A B3cabN
Pawns Berolina Pb / Ꝕ mfFcfeWinmfA
Pawn P mfWcfeFinmfD
Shoreline Dolphin D R3mDmH
Walrus Wl / Ẅ B3mAmG
  King K


  Turtle Tu / Ŧ Q4AD

+ Plus the Hia power, as described above.

(Note that castling moves are automatically reversed left-to-right for Black.)

For convenience, I put these tables into a one-page PDF that you can print out and keep by your side while playing.


Most rules are normal, except as otherwise stated. Victory comes through checkmate or bare king; stalemate is a draw.


Castling is pretty much normal, between the King and one of the Short Rooks and subject to the same restrictions (about the lane being clear, the King and Short Rook having not yet moved, and such). The King moves to the space where a Guard started, and the Short Rook moves to the space just inside the King (where the Wizard or Sorcerer started).


Other than how they move, Berolinas are treated exactly the same as standard Pawns in all respects. They are equally subject to, and capable of, en passant capture, and use the exact same promotion rules (below).


Promotion of pieces depend somewhat on the piece type.

Pawns may promote upon reaching the opponent's Pawn Row to the starting (unpromoted) version of any piece that the opponent has captured. The promotion is optional at that point. A Pawn that holds out and reaches the opponent's Royal Row promotes to a first-promotion piece, if the piece was captured that way (or as a second-promotion piece).

Other pieces that promote only promote to specific pieces.

There are two special cases for promotions:

The Guard is promoted to Bodyguard only upon capture of an opponent's piece (other than a Pawn).

The Sorcerer or the Wizard can promote to Thaumaturge, but only after the other has been captured. (A Pawn can later Promote to the captured piece, but that piece cannot promote to Thaumaturge while there's already one on the board -- each side gets only one Thaumaturge at a time!) This happens like a first-promotion, upon capturing an opponent's piece, or reaching the opponent's Pawn Row. In the latter case, if one of the two is already positioned at or behind the opponent's Pawn Row when the other is captured, then the surviving piece may immediately promote to Thaumaturge.


The pieces listed here as moving six spaces are extended to fit the larger size of the board; on a standard 8x8 board, most of their moves are (or would be) four spaces. (In other games, the Short Bishop and Short Queen generally are given only 3 spaces.) Similarly, the Archer would only move two spaces diagonally on an 8x8 (or 10x10) board. (I left the Turtle at its original 4-space move; otherwise it would've just been an enhanced Lady in Waiting.)

I've tried to keep the game as symmetrical as possible; other than the Pawns and Archer, every piece has either a circular move or a counterpart whose move is turned 45 degrees, and (except for the Sorcerer and Wizard) has a parallel promotion sequence. (In a way, the Pawns can count for this as well, though they're forward-only movers.) Also, all promotions feature only increases in abilities, other than a couple of cases where a two-space leaper becomes a six-space slider. There are a lot of different pieces in this game (44, by my count), and it's too much to expect players to keep track of a bunch of more-or-less random pieces even with the reference sheet.

Physical Pieces

For anyone wanting to 3D-print a set for this game, I've designed collected the pieces on Thingiverse.

About the Pieces

Pieces created for this game (or otherwise appearing here first, as far as I know, since I couldn't find them anywhere else) include the Bongo, Crusader, Healer, Jackal, Kuhani, Lady in Waiting, Little Buffalo, Malkia, Mtawala, Serval, Thaumaturge, and Walrus. (The Archer -- at least, my version of it -- previously appeared in Vanguard Chess.)

The Kuhani, Mtawala, and Malkia are Zebra-based equivalents to the Archbishop, Chancellor, and Amazon. These pieces -- their names being Swahili for "Priest," "Administrator" (or "Governor"), and "Queen," respectively -- were chosen because Knight's moves are used with so many of the other pieces; just throwing in Arabic pieces (Caliph, Canvasser, and Sultana) would seem perfunctory; and I believe that the world needs more celebration of the cultures of sub-Saharan Africa.

While the Little Buffalo is the only piece with the word "Little" in its name here, I still think of the Elephant, Tiger, and Unicorn as having that word, since there are other pieces by those names running around with (mostly) bigger moves. The Buffalo just happens to be the only one whose "Big" counterpart is in this game. It's also the only one of the four I created for this game; the Elephant and Tiger first appeared in Cataclysm by Greg Strong, while the Unicorn first appeared in The Druid Army by Peter Hatch. (My thanks to David Paulowich for finding those for me!)

The Kuhani appears, independently invented, in Modern Grand Apothecary Chess by Aurelian Florea, under the name Sangoma. After learning of it, I did a little research and decided to stick with the Swahili name, leaving Zulu names like Sangoma for compounds from the Wildebeest.

The High Priest is basically the same as Joe Joyce's High Priestess, introduced in Two Large Shatranj Variants; I just changed the name for the sake of internal consistency (with due apologies to any trans readers who might feel slighted). The Minister comes from the same place.

The Abbot, Marquis, and Priest come from Adrian King's Scirocco. He also includes a Duke, which (for reasons too lengthy to go into here) I generally prefer to call Castellan.

The Leon is an old piece, dating back to the 13th century in Grant Acedrex; I have conflicting information on what its traditional move was, but this is what I decided to go with. I invented the Jackal as a companion.

The Bodyguard comes from a Mongolian game called Hiashatar.

The Wizard famously comes from Daniel MacDonald's Omega Chess; its companion, the Sorcerer, is from Charles Daniel's Sorcerer Chess. I created the Thaumaturge as a compound.

The Turtle is something I found in the Who is Who on Eight by Eight article by Ivan A Derzhanski. He credits it to a game called Demiurge, about which I can find no other information.

The Dolphin is from a Russian game called Falconry (of which, admittedly, I know nothing else); I created the Walrus to go with it.

The Kirin and Phoenix are traditional Japanese peices coming from various forms of Shogi.

The Hospitaller, Templar, and Okapi are pieces from fairy chess problems since the early 20th century.

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 Bob Greenwade.

Last revised by Bob Greenwade.

Web page created: 2023-08-08. Web page last updated: 2023-10-22