The Chess Variant Pages

Check out Metamachy, our featured variant for December, 2023.

This page is written by the game's inventor, R Chafe.

Copyright R.Stephen Chafe - 1997. All Rights Reserved.


There you are just sailing along with your hardy crew, favorite girl, and precious cargo of Missionaries when you happen upon a surly bunch of fellow thugs spoiling for a fight too. In a flash everyone hits the deck of the ship and it's time to rumble!!! Guess it's time to find out whose really the better Pirate in these waters.


Welcome to the Variant game PIRATES-HENGE-HO, which I created for the 38 Square Game Contest. Try it out and let me know what you think.


This game uses some of the pieces from the standard rules for STONEHENGE.

The (Rk) Rook, the (Pn) Pawns, and the (Bp) Bishops move as in normal Chess. Unlike regular Chess the Pawns always can move only one step.

Arrrgh, Matey! There's also no form of Castling. Pirates don't need no stinking castles.

The (MN) Mandarin can move or attack by hopping two squares distance on any of the four diagonals. It can also do an attack into one of the four adjacent lateral (vertical or horizontial) squares, but cannot move into an empty square on the lateral.

This (M) Maiden ain't no dainty landlubber Miss. She moves and attacks like the Queen, but only upto three squares distance per turn. Arrgh! She's small, but a lot tougher then you might think.

The (Ca) Cannon is a beauty, and it's best effective takes some getting used to. It can only Move without attacking, one square in any of the diagonal directions. However it can move any distance on the lateral (vertical or horizontial) as long as it ends it's move by attacking an enemy piece. It then must occupy the square of the piece it takes. It cannot under any circumstances move on the lateral and end it's movement in an open square. Treat her right though and the Cannon can do a lot of damage when she gets into the crowd.

The (PK) Pirate-King can move and attack like a normal King but also has the ability to jump two squares in any of the eight directions , as long as the destination square is empty. As you will discover quickly this gives the normal King a whole new perspective. But then being a Pirate's the only way to live.

NOTE - When a piece like the (PK) Pirate-King or the (Mn) Mandarin "hops" it can jump over either friend piece, enemy piece, or open square.

(Pn) Pawns that reach the back rank may only promote to Cannons. Get a couple a them on the loose and watch out for the broadsides you'll get matey.

BTW, the square in the middle of the board is impassable. Ships masts are no place for a fight. Mandarins and kings can jump over the mast square in the center of the board.


You can win the game by either finishing off the opponents Pirate-King or by capturing both the other players Bishops.

Optional rules for Winning

With this game you have the option of using the "Girls Play Rough" rule. Under this rule the opponent's "King-Status" piece becomes the Queen, Mistress, or Maiden. Use this rule if trying to convince your girl friend or a less experienced player to try Chess.

In short, under this rule you must capture the opponent's King to win, while she must capture your Female "King-Status" piece to win. Think it sounds simple, just try it. You won't be so agressive with your Queen piece this time laddy. For this variant though the "King-Status" piece is the (M)Maiden.

If using the "Boys-On-the-Side" rule then both sides Maiden pieces are the ones having "King-Status". That means you must capture the other sides (M) Maiden to win the game. Note that Pirate-King becomes just a normal piece when using this rule.


If the opening player wishs to go on the offensive early he will find the Pirate-King not so easy to corner. In this variant the King is a piece with powerful abilities. This here's a game of about six different opening stategies, and the same number of "best responses". Learning these moves and countermoves though is half the fun.

Use of the Bishops in the middle and endgame can quickly turn the tide of the battle, but watchout if you get them trapped. Losing the Bishops will lose the game for you too. As such you should not try to deploy both Bishops too early in the game. Moving or losing one at the right time can be more effective an equalizer then you might think, but you better be ready to guard the second one carefully.

Every opening move has at least two moves to counter with. Good luck and have fun with all that thinking (or is that sinking...Arrgh the heck with it...let's just fight). :)

Written by R.Stephen Chafe.

Hi-Ho and a swig of Rum....It's only the Variants life for me!!!.

This is an entry in the Contest to make a chess variant on a board with 38 squares.
WWW page created: January 26, 1998. Last modified: February 4, 1998.