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The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, P. Magnus.

Chameleon Chess

by P.D. Magnus


Chameleon Chess is played on a special 6x7 board. Each space on the board is associated with a standard chess piece, as shown. Although black squares are depicted with black pieces and white squares with white pieces, this is for aesthetic purposes only.

[chameleon chess board]


Each player has one King and eleven Chameleons. Kings may be represented by standard chess kings; Chameleons may be represented by Go stones, checkers, or similar pieces. The initial position in shown below.

[chameleon chess set-up]

Game Play

A Chameleon may move like the piece associated with the space it occupies, following the rules of Orthodox Chess. After being moved, it will be on a new space -- on its next move it may move like the piece associated with the new space. Chameleons on a space with a King marked on it move as Kings, but are not royal.

A white Chameleon on the 2nd rank may move like pawn -- forward to the 3rd or 4th rank or capture diagonally on the 3rd -- even if it has come to the 2nd rank late in the game. A white chameleon on the 6th rank may move forward or capture diagonally on the 7th. There is no promotion, since the chameleon on the 7th rank no longer moves like a pawn. There is no en passant move.

Similarly, black Chameleons on the 6th rank may move forward to the 5th or 4th; black Chameleons on the 2nd rank may move or capture on the 1st.

Kings move as in standard chess, although there is no castling.

The winner is the first player to checkmate the other's king. Other rules of Orthodox Chess apply: repetition, stalemate, etc.

Computer Play

An implementation of Chameleon Chess has been written for Zillions of Games. You can download it here:

Editorial Note: Chess variants where a piece's movement depends on where on the board it stands is a popular genre with designers. Probably the oldest is Bruce Zimov's game Lumberjack Chess. Other games of this sort include Chamaeleon by Wolfgang Großkopf, Morph Chess by Karl Scherer, Chameleon by Tony Quintanilla and Zelig Chess by Stan Druben.
Written by P.D. Magnus.
WWW page created: March 26th, 2002.