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Juggernaut Chess

By Seth McGinnis and Erik Wilson

My friend Erik introduced me to this variant of chess, which he and his brother developed when they were young. I can't recall if he and I refined it any, or if it remains in its original form, but here's what I remember.


You will need an extra piece of some kind that will fit on a single chess square. If it is something menacing, like a dragon or some such lead figurine, so much the better. (The originators had a little camel, and so the game was originally named "Camel-of-Peril Chess".) You will also need a ten-sided die, available for role-playing games at any number of hobby stores. Actually, you just need to be able to generate a number from 1 to 10.


Juggernaut is played in all ways exactly as a normal game of chess, with the exception of an additional piece belonging to neither player: the Juggernaut.

The Juggernaut, as its name suggests, is a moving force of destruction. At the beginning of the game, you place the Juggernaut randomly on the board. (You can place it in one of the four central squares, if it makes you feel more secure; it shouldn't make much difference.) Then, after every move, you roll the die to see which way the Juggernaut moves.

Unfortunately for the hapless chessmen, the Juggernaut is completely indestructible. Anything it touches, dies. It will wander merrily about the board, destroying everything in its path, until nothing is left.

So why a ten-sided die? On a 1-8, the Juggernaut moves as follows:

  8  1  2
  7  J  3
  6  5  4

If the die comes up 9, a momentary respite has been earned, and the Juggernaut merely sits there, unmoving. On a 10, it teleports. Roll the die two more times to pick a random rank and file (re-rolling a 9 or 10). Put the Juggernaut there. Kill whatever used to be there. Yes, in fact, this means that after every move there is a 1/10 * 1/64 chance that your king will be arbitrarily killed. On one occasion, I even lost that way when I was one move away from checkmate...

Written by Seth McGinnis.
WWW page created: February 2, 1998. Last modified: September 27, 2001.