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This page is written by the game's inventor, Ralph Betza.

The Black Ghost


Basic Premise

A very weak piece is added to Black's army in order to cancel the advantage of White's first move.

Formal Rules

For the purists, here are the rules of Black Ghost in "legal" form:
  1. The rules are the same as the rules of FIDE chess, with the following exception:
  2. In addition to the usual army, Black also has a Ghost on c6, d6, e6, or f6.

    The Ghost can teleport itself to any empty square on the board, but it can never capture anything and can never be promoted.

Strategy Ideas

I think the Ghost is worth less than a Pawn, in general.

The Ghost can be used as a sacrifice to disorganize your opponent, it can be defended and used to block important lines, it can be used to block a Pawn in the endgame.

Until you have a good place to use it, the Ghost is in the way. Because the Ghost is worth almost a Pawn if used well, it starts the game in a position where it is very much in the way.

The best strategy is to preserve the Ghost until the endgame, when its ability to make tempo moves can often turn a loss to a draw, or a draw to a win; but in the meantime, the Ghost will constantly be in your way, waiting for the time when you can arrange for it to get in the other guy's way instead.


You can try other starting squares for the Ghost.

Puzzles and Problems

No diagrams here, just some thoughts about how a Ghost could change some well-known endings.

In the Pawnless endgame of King plus two Knights versus King and Ghost, if the King is already confined to the corner it is better not to have the Ghost on the board. However, with the Ghost always able to move, can the King be confined to a corner?

Similarly, King plus Rook versus King plus Ghost is not easy because one usually uses Zugszwang to chase the losing King to the side of the board. Although in this case it is advantageous to capture the Ghost, I think this ending might be a draw. For example, White Ke4, Rc4; Black Kd6, Ghost at will. Black's move.

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