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This page is written by the game's inventor, Jean-Louis Cazaux.

Camel Decimal Chess

One more Chess Variant adding a pair of Camels to the standard chess set. This idea has a long tradition which started with historical variants of shatranj (although in these early times, the Camel moved like a Dabbaba), and followed in modern times by numerous proposals. However, none of them is fully satisfactory.

So, what's wrong with the Camels? First, I wanted to have an arrangement where all Pawns are protected in the initial setup. Which is not the case for Devingt Chess (Léopold de Labrousse, 2005), Mexican Chess (Prince Joli Kansil, 1965), or Mephisto (Stanislaw Hofmokl-Ostrowski, 1955).

That particular issue is solved by Modern Kamil (Nuno Cruz, 2002) but one problem remains: Camels are able to attack the opponent's Pawns on their second move, which is too soon. Also, the Camels may fork the opponent's King or Queen in the early stages, another point which could be avoided (for instance Camel in a2 to b5 then to e6 > check!).

It seems that a kind of Shako-setup would be interesting. This does not show these drawbacks, and it also brings some advanges. It keeps the entire set of 32 orthodox pieces in the exact relative position they have in standard chess, on an 8x8 square centered in this 10x10 board. That allows some transposition of classical openings and general strategic or tactical principles. Also, the almost free rank at the back of each player's army allows a fast circulation of the Rook, or some possibility of clearing the path between King and Rook for castling.

You can play Camel Decimal Chess with Game Courier here!



King, Queen, Rook, Bishop, Knight, and Pawn move and capture as in standard chess.

The Camel leaps to a square at the opposite corner of a 2x4 rectangle (the White Camel starting on a1 may leap to b4 on its first move). Like the Bishop, the Camel is colorbound, so it can reach only half of the squares on the board.

See the Interactive Diagram above and its facilities to illustrate the different moves.


All classical chess rules apply here. This includes castling, Pawn's en passant capture, Pawn's initial double step, Pawn's promotion on the last rank at the opposed side of the board (rank 10 for White, rank 1 for Black).

The only difference is that the Pawn may promote to a choice of pieces (of the opposing color) that includes Camel now.


In the Comments of the Modern Kamil page, Nuno Cruz was himself asking if placing the Camel on the first rank would not be a better choice:

"Nuno Cruz wrote on Tue, Nov 4, 2008 12:57 AM CET: I would like to ask your opinion about one thing: would the set up for my variant beneficete from putting the Camels on the first and last ranks? (as the Rooks in 'Grand Chess'?) instead of this setup?"

He had got a positive answer to his question (by George Duke and David Paulowich), however neither him nor his correspondants had said on which square they would have put the Camel. Hence this proposal of Camel Decimal Chess.

As a second note, I have not kept the Pawn's promotion of Modern Kamil on the 8th row. I prefer to have it on the last 10th row, even though it becomes one-step harder than at standard chess, but the 8th row is too close from start in my opinion. The 9th row would have been similar in effect than the one of standard chess, but it loses the idea that Pawns promote at the end of their journey and this idea is, from my perspective, the essence of the promotion of Pawns.

As this variant has really nothing original, it might have been invented by someone else before. If that is the case, please contact me and I will give credit for it.

=> A similar variant is Wildebeest Decimal Chess invented by Erik Lerouge (2019). The difference are the presence of an additional piece, a Wildebeest, the possibility of "free castling" and the stalemate as a victory.


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 Jean-Louis Cazaux.

Last revised by Fergus Duniho.

Web page created: 2023-11-13. Web page last updated: 2023-12-17