Check out Alice Chess, our featured variant for June, 2024.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Charles Gilman.

Star of David 2 Level Hex Chess

Following Armies of Faith 2 my pre-existing 2d hex variant Anglojewish (AJ) Chess inspired me to add a simpler variant using each kind of AOF2 army - a square-cell 2d one for Guru Mahachaturanga and a cubic-cell 3d one for Heathen Europe Chess. This served as a reminder that AJ Chess itself has - and can have - neither the Knight nor the Pawn from the enduring mainstream of Occidental pieces. A variant using more or less - as the AOF2 Fortnight ultimately proved unsuitable - the AOF2 Jewish army now brings me nearly full circle. My subsequent combining of pieces from this variant and AJ Chess in Flatstar completes the process.

Unlike the European and Indian armies this still required a hex-prism board - hex for the Rabbi and Sennight and square for the Knight and Pawn - so I kept the 3d element to a minimum by having just 2 levels. This meant hex boards as levels, even at the cost of binding Knights to 1 in 4 columns each, as the alternative would make Rabbis too weak. The next question was what exact shape the levels should be, and one possibility fitted the theme perfectly: two triangles pointing in opposite directions, the central hexagonal areas overlapping to form a 2-level version of the AOF2 Drum to which Knights were further confined. The two overlaid form a Star of David shape, especially if you notice the edges of one level through the other, and the David in question was of course a King, a piece distinguishing this variant from AJ Chess.

As the Fortnight would be unwieldy a piece within the tiny 74-cell Drum I decided to substitute a different piece type, choosing the Cohen of AJ Chess. Ultimately I developed two variants as another piece for which I had settled on a name, the Sling, especially suited the theme. The Cohen and Sling appear together in a later 2d hex variant of mine, Sinojewish Chess. Piece density here is quite high - 6/11 and just over 3/5 - but this reflects the weakness of many of the individual pieces. I do not recommend one army against the other.

Since these variants I have added a similar one on an even larger pair of triangles with all the pieces here and others, named Megastar of David in allusion to its size and range of pieces.


In the following diagrams the areas marked
indicate groups of cells only on the other level. The upper level has the Kings and non-King-file Knights, and most of the non-Pawns on the equivalent of FIDE Kingside. In Cohen SD2L Pawns on the middle file double up, the back one with an optional double-step move. The lower level has the King-file Knights, and most of the non-Pawns on the equivalent of FIDE Queenside. In Cohen SD2L Pawns on the files next to the middle filestack double up, the back one with an optional double-step move. In Sling SD2L it also has all the Rooks.

Cohen SD2L - upper level

Cohen SD2L - lower level

Sling SD2L - upper level

Sling SD2L - lower level


Pieces constant in the Occidental game and so in every army in AOF and its offshoots:
The KING moves one step in any of the 6 horizontal orthogonal (one column but on the same level), 2 vertical orthogonal (one level but on the same column), and 12 root-2 diagonal (one level and one column) directions. When moving diagonally it must do so between opposite corners of a vertical block of 2x2 cells, whose other 2 cells may be empty or occupied but must not be missing. It must be kept out of Check. There is 1 King aside, starting on the upper level but able to reach the lower one within the Drum.
The ROOK moves any distance through empty intermediate cells in any of the 6 horizontal, and 2 vertical, orthogonal directions. There are 2 Rooks aside, one starting on each level in CSD2L but both starting on the bottom level in SSD2L, and able to change level within the Drum.
The KNIGHT makes 2:1 leaps, that is, between opposite corners of any vertical block of 3x2 cells whose other 4 cells may be empty or occupied but must not be missing. On this board it always moves 2 columns and 1 level within the Drum. On a hex-prism board of three or more hex boards a Knight can reach any cell in a convex area and return to a cell in an odd number of moves, but here it is bound to 1 in 4 columns and always moves from the upper to the lower level or vice versa. CSD2L has 4 Knights aside, one for each binding, but SSD2L has only 3, one for each except the smallest binding.
The PAWN moves one step forward, which here means along its filestack to which it is bound until promotion. It moves orthogonally along the file except when capturing, which it does on the root-2 diagonal to the filestack's other file. CSD2L has 13 Pawns aside, 6 starting on the upper level and 7 on the lower. SSD2L has 14, 7 starting on each level.
Jewish-specific pieces:
The COHEN or KOHEN makes up to 4 steps along orthogonals or hex diagonals, but never both in the same move, through empty cells, turning either 60° left at each intermediate cell or 60° right at each intermediate cell. As with the Rose inspiring this kind of piece, a move never mixes left and right turns either. If there are no 60° turns to make, in this case with a move starting with a vertical step, the move must consist of just that step. CSD2L has 2 Cohens aside, one starting on each level but able to reach the other within the Drum. SSD2L has none. Its name is a rank in the historic Jewish priesthood. The former spelling is the more familar, but the latter is sometimes used for the ancient priest to distinguish from the surname widespread in modern Jewish society. For knowledge of the ancient meaning I am indebted to Leo Rosten's books on language.
The RABBI makes up to 4 steps along hex diagonals through empty cells, turning either 60° left at each intermediate cell or 60° right at each intermediate cell. As with the Rose inspiring this kind of piece, a move never mixes left and right turns. Each Rabbi is bound to a third of its level, and can reach no other level. There are 6 Rabbis aside, to cover all 3 bindings on each level. The name is after the most widely-known Jewish religious title.
The SENNIGHT is the pure-hex root-7 oblique leaper. It moves to the closest cells on the same level that cannot be reached from the same start in a single Rook or Rabbi move, and having reached such a cell goes no further. It cannot be blocked. It is bound to all of its level and like all pure-hex leapers can triangulate. There are 2 Sennights aside, 1 for each level. The name means a seven-day week, which Jews were first to give a major religious significance. Until Christianity became the Roman Empire's official religion, ethnic Jews were the main group observing such a week in Europe. Its use for a root-7 leaper puns on the 7 and the more familiar Knight piece.
The SLING moves any distance straight along root-3, in this case hex, diagonals. All intermediate cells must be empty except when capturing, which requires exactly one intervening piece, which may be of either army and is not itself captured. Each Sling is bound to a third of its level, and can reach no other level. SSD2L has 6 Slings aside, to cover all 3 bindings on each level. CSSD2L has none. The name is after a weapon usually weak compared to the Arrow as that compared to the Cannon, those being its root-2 diagonal and orthogonal counterparts. I say usually as according to the Bible it proved sufficient for the David of the variant title to defeat Goliath with.


A Pawn has an optional initial double-step noncapturing move if and only if the move is through another Pawn's starting cell. It can be captured En Passant by enemy Pawns, even ones to which no double-step move was ever available.

There is no Castling.

Pawns with no further move within the Drum, even if they would otherwise be able to leave it by a noncapturing move, must be promoted to any other capturable piece of the relevant array.

Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate are as in FIDE Chess.


2 identical FIDE sets can just about represent CSD2L's 30 pieces aside using the desperate measure of a three-Pawn cluster on the same square representing a King. The physical Kings and the Bishops can then represent Rabbis, Queens Cohens, inverted Rooks Sennights, and the rest themselves. SSD2L's 34 aside give a slightly better excuse for using 2 large and 1 small FIDE sets: Bishops of both sizes as Rabbis, small Knights as Sennights, small Pawns as Slings, and other large pieces as themselves. An alternative is to use 2 Shogi sets for either:
used as
used as
Goldupper-level Rabbi
SilverCohenlower-level Rabbi
Helmupper-level Sling
Winglower-level Sling

The Cohen is a compound of the Rabbi and another AJ piece whose name of Finch is specific to modern English Jewry and so not especially suited to AOF and its offshoots. Whether the Cohen would make a better AOF2 Jewish King's Partner (and promotee for all armies) than the Fortnight is a question on which I welcome feedback. It would mean lifting the ban on compound capturable pieces, and so raise the question of what other rejected pieces might be reconsidered.

Note that the variant with the Sling does not use the pieces from which it is extrapolated. In the Cannon's case this is because it is thematically anachronistic, in the Arrow's because it requires longer root-2 diagonals than the board offers.

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: 2008-03-29. Web page last updated: 2016-03-15