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The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, Peter Aronson.

TOTO40: A Totolospi Inspired Chess Variant on 40 Squares


          Toto40 is a chess variant inspired by Frank Hamilton Cushing's incomplete description of Totolospi, a war game once played by Hopi Indians. Totolospi (not to be confused with a race game of the same name) was played on a 10 by 10 grid, with a diagonal line, known as tuh-ki-o-ta, drawn from the northwest to the southeast corner. Cushing's description is vague, but he did state that pieces could be moved onto the diagonal line, but not across it, and that all fighting took place on that line. Toto40 has borrowed the idea of a uncrossable line on which all of the fighting occurs.

The Board

          Toto40 is played on a board of 40 squares, arranged in a sort of a staircase, with a red diagonal line bisecting the board. The squares containing this line are collectively referred to as the fighting line.

The Pieces

          Each player has a King, a Rook, A Knight, a Hawk and four Pawns. Within the special constraints of the board, the King, Rook, Knight and Pawns move as they do in orthodox chess, except there is no castling or two square initial move for Pawns. The Hawk jumps exactly two squares either diagonally or orthogonally (like a combined Alfil and Dabbabah), passing over the adjacent square, whether or not it is occupied:

    | * |   | * |   |   |
        |   |   | \ |   |   |
            | H |   | * |   |   |
                |   |   | \ |   |   |
                    | * |   | \ |   |

is a hawk.
indicates a square in the fighting line.
indicates a square the hawk can move to.

Initial Setup

 12 | P |
 11 |   | P |
 10 | \ |   | H |
  9 |   | \ |   | N |
  8 | p |   | \ |   | R |
  7     | p |   | \ |   | K |
  6         | k |   | \ |   | P |
  5             | r |   | \ |   | P |
  4                 | n |   | \ |   |
  3                     | h |   | \ |
  2                         | p |   |
  1                             | p |

      a   b   c   d   e   f   g   h

  K = King
  R = Rook
  N = Knight
  H = Hawk
  P = Pawn

The squares marked with a "\" compose the fighting line.

indicates a square in the fighting line.

The Fighting Line

          While pieces from either side may occupy squares on the fighting line, no pieces may cross it; that is, white pieces may be either in bottom section of the board or on the fighting line, and black pieces may be on the top section of the board or on the fighting line. Diagonals between fighting line squares are impassable as well. Pieces may not capture or offer check to pieces not on the fighting line.

          Once either player has occupied a square on the fighting line, for the rest of the game, if a player ends their turn without a piece on the fighting line, they lose the game.

          In addition to their normal movement abilities, pieces on the fighting line gain the ability to move and take with a one square diagonal move either direction along the fighting line (this is the only move pawns may make once reaching the fighting line, and they may never leave the line except by being captured).

Repeated Moves

          A move may not be made such that the board is brought to an exact configuration identical to one that it held earlier (Superko rule).


          A player wins by capturing their opponent's King, if their opponent has no legal move, or once the fighting line has been entered, if at the end of their opponent's turn, their opponent has no piece on the fighting line.



(original publication 1907).

University Press, 1952.

Sample game

Köksal Karakus made the following animated picture of a sample game of Toto40.
Animated Toto40 game

Written by Peter Aronson.
WWW page created: August 25, 1999. Last modified: March 13, 2000.