Check out Chess with Different Armies, our featured variant for July, 2024.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Gavin King.


By Gavin King


Motorotor is a nifty idea I had for an entry to the 43 square contest. The two Kings are confined to two platforms which slowly orbit the field of play. The Pawns are omnidirectional, and the Bishop can change colors. The orbiting platforms make for tricky checks.



You might want to read Ralph Betza's Funny Notation, in the "Articles on Pieces" section of the Piececlopedia.

Omnipawn: mWcF in funny notation. No doublemove, promotion, or en passant. (This piece is sometimes called a Steward, and moves one step orthogonally without capturing, or captures one step diagonally.)

Normal FIDE Knight.

Luxury Bishop: BmW. Think about it. It moves like a FIDE Bishop or may take a single noncapturing orthogonal step.

Unicorn: BN. (Also widely known as the Cardinal or Princess, and moves either as a Knight (complete with jumping moves) or as a Bishop.)

Ordinary FIDE Queen.

Ordinary FIDE Rook.

The King may move anywhere in his own platform, but nowhere else.


Object: capture the opponent's king.

Move: A turn consists of two mandatory things:

  1. Rotate your platform 1 space clockwise.
  2. Move a piece. Pieces may not enter the friendly platform except to capture. Non-royal pieces on the friendly platform have only 2 passive moves in a row before they must leave the platform. (note: sample game may not comply with these rules)
In that order.

#2 is self-explanatory, so I'll explain how #1 works.

Rotation: Begins with starting position, first diagram is after one move of each player, subsequent diagrams are 1 move for each player apart. Nobody moves, this is only to demonstrate rotation. Platforms on corners "wrap around" as if you had folded the two pieces down to form the corner of a cube. (Kindly ignore the fact that the squares change color :)


Start + 1

Start + 2

Start + 3


Name: "Motorotor"="Motorized rotor". BMW is a Bavarian car company that makes luxury cars. Hence, BmW would be a luxury Bishop. Get it?

Inspiration: Subway Chess, or whatever else has moving chunks of squares.

Variants: You might replace the Unicorn with a Nightrider or a Paulowich Unicorn (BNN).

Notation: Hard. I'd recommend making the whole thing one giant 11x11 square "ocean" and have the platform squares named off of that, like so:

The king is at f2.

The king is now at e2

Playing Tips

If you know any, please tell me (clicking on my highlighted name below will get you to my e-mail address).


I used butcher paper for the "ocean", strips of cardboard from a pizza box for the platforms,an upside-down rook for the Unicorn, and lots of Sharpie. You may make yours nicer than mine if you wish.

Sample Game

Gavin King vs. Gavin King.

        1.e3-e4    f10-g8   
        2.c4-d4    h9-h8   
        3.a5-c4    k7-i8   
        4.b4-d5    i7-g6   
        5.c6-d8    j5-h7   
        6.b8-d6    g6xe4    
        7.d6-f4    k4-j5   
        8.f4-e5    j4-h1   
        9.e10-f11  e4xd5   
        10.d8-h4   f1-g3??   
        11.h4xg2   f1xf2    
        12.h11xh8  e3xd4    
        13.e5xd4   d1xd4    
        14.h8-d4!  g8-i7?   

Written by Gavin King.
WWW page created: March 18, 2003.