The Chess Variant Pages

Hexagonal Arimaa

This is a rules file for Zillions of Games, a Windows program that will let you play any puzzle or strategy board game you can feed it the rules to. With Zillions-of-Games installed, this rules file will let you play this game against your computer.

The original Arimaa game, from which this Hexagonal version is derived, is a two-player strategy board game that was designed to be playable with a standard chess set, easy to learn, difficult for computers, and fun to play for humans. It was invented in 2003 by Omar Syed. Syed was inspired by Garry Kasparov's defeat at the hands of the chess computer Deep Blue to design a new game which could be played with a standard chess set, would be difficult for computers to play well, but would have rules simple enough for his then four-year-old son Aamir to understand. ("Arimaa" is "Aamir" spelled backwards plus an initial "A".)

This Hexagonal version of Arimaa is based on McCooey's Hexagonal Chess. Dave McCooey and I were discussing the fact that the computers finally beat the Humans at Arimaa in 2015 when Dave suggested that Hexagonal Arimaa was 'The next logical step.'  


Each side gets 16 pieces. The game has no fixed starting position for the pieces.  The game starts with an empty board.  First Gold places all Gold pieces, in any order, based on the diamond configuration of the McCooey Hexagonal Chess set-up (White side).  Silver then places all the Silver pieces,  based on the diamond configuration of the McCooey Hexagonal Chess set-up (Black side). Once the pieces have been placed the players take turns moving the pieces with Gold going first. The number of possible starting positions for each player in original Arimaa is 64,864,800. In this version, there are 172,972,800 possible starting positions (a factor of almost 2.7). 


Each player has 7 Rabbits, 3 Cats, 2 Dogs, 2 Horses, 1 Camel and 1 Elephant. 

On each turn the players can take up to 4 steps. All pieces step the same way, which is laterally like a Rook in Hexagonal Chess. Rabbits may not move backwards.

Pieces may push, pull or freeze weaker opposing pieces.  A piece is frozen when adjacent to a stronger opposing piece and there are no friendly pieces adjacent to it.

The positions at c3, c6, f3, f9, i3 and i6 are called 'traps'. Any piece that is standing on a trap is immediately removed from the board if there are no friendly pieces adjacent to it. A piece may safely stand on or pass through a trap as long as there is a friendly piece adjacent to it. If the friendly piece moves away then the lonely piece on the trap is immediately removed from the board.


It may be helpful to have a familiarity with the original Arimaa game. This is my interpretation of Arimaa played on the 91 cell hexagonal board, and based on McCooey's Hexagonal Chess. Refer to the readme.txt or the Help information within the game itself for details.

There are three ways to win a game of Arimaa:

The first player to get just one Rabbit across the board to a goal cell wins. On this Hexagonal board, Gold's goals are the 11 hexes spanning a6-f11-k6; Silver's goals span a1-f1-k1.

Another way to win is to eliminate all of the opponent's Rabbits. In standard Arimaa, you win if you capture the opponent's last Rabbit, even if you sacrifice your own last Rabbit to do so.

The third way to win is by immobilizing your opponent. Stalemate is a LOSS for the immobilized side.



Arimaa - Hexagonal Version

Original Arimaa invented and implemented by Omar and Aamir Syed, November 2002.

Translated into McCooey Hexagonal by Tim O'Lena, June 2020. 

Derived from Arimaa.zrf - used with permission.

This software is being provided with a written authorization from and in compliance with "Section 3 of the Arimaa Public License". Authorization #200710. Any rights granted by the end user license of this software apply only to this software and do not extend to the Arimaa game. The end user is responsible to ensure that any derivative work based on this software complies with the Arimaa Public License and obtain any authorization or license by contacting The Arimaa name is a trademark of The Arimaa game is patented. The Arimaa game rules, the Arimaa board design and the Arimaa piece design are copyright protected. The Arimaa Public License allows cost free use of the Arimaa game for non-commercial use. More information can be found at

Download Instructions

No URL has been provided, but the directory for this page has the following downloadable .zip or .zrf files in it:

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 Tim O'Lena.

Last revised by Tim O'Lena.

Web page created: 2020-07-11. Web page last updated: 2020-07-11