Abstract Chess Pieces
by Fergus Duniho
This is my ever-growing set of abstract, somewhat cubist, Chess piece images. These are designed mainly for use with Zillions of Games. This set includes images for all the pieces used in most of my own games, the Fairy Chess ZRF from Zillions of Games, and Mad Chess. And there are images for some other pieces too.
My main inspiration for these pieces was a 3D set I used in an Amiga Chess program called Checkmate. I cannot provide a screenshot, because the security built into the program has stopped it from running in Amiga emulators. It resembled the Man Ray set and the Bauhaus set and also had some novel features of its own. Although the Abstract set was not directly inspired by the Man Ray and Bauhaus sets, it's easier to compare it with them thanks to having photographs of what they look like. The greatest similarity between these sets and my Abstract set is that they used cubes for Rooks, and the abstract set uses squares. Additionally, the Man Ray set uses semi-spheres for Pawns while the Abstract set uses semi-circles, and the Bauhaus set uses blocks with two opposite corners cut out for Knights, leaving each face with an L-shaped pattern in the form of a Knight move, while the Abstract set portrays the Knight as a pattern of three squares in the same pattern. Because these pieces were illustrated 2D images, they were not bound by the same contraints as sculptured 3D pieces, which allowed some to be composed of disconnected parts.
Except for the Rook, the Chess pieces in the Abstract set were also inspired by the Staunton set. The Knight includes an eye to make it look more like a horse. The Bishop includes a line to make it look more like the Bishops's miter in the Staunton set. The Queen has a pointy crown sort of like the Queen in the Staunton set. The King has a cross, as does the King in the Staunton set. And the Pawn resembles the top of a Pawn in the Staunton set.
I drew each piece with Ultimate Paint. Because I originally made bitmap images for use with Zillions-of-Games, I used XNView to convert the bitmaps to gifs, then used giftrans and emacs to generate the transparent gifs you are looking at here. Besides the red pieces shown here, there is also a matching set of white pieces.
Download Whole Set
All images Copyright © Fergus Duniho, 1999-2023.
These images may be used only with explicit permission or under the conditions described at the bottom of this page.
Here are the six pieces used in FIDE Chess.
Each image conveys some sense of how a piece moves. This is most evident with the six standard pieces. The Rook's square shape indicates orthogonal movement. The Bishop's triangular shape indicates diagonal movement. The Queen, which can move as a Rook or a Bishop, is composed of both squares and triangles. The Knight's image indicates how the Knight moves. The circular shape of the Pawn and King indicate pieces which move only one space at a time. Squares for orthogonal movement, triangles for diagonal movement, circles for moving one space, and abbreviated movement maps for leapers are the motifs used in all the other piece designs.
Ultima, Rococo, and Supremo pieces
The Coordinator shows four squares with two triangles pointing toward each other, which represents the connection between the King and the Coordinator, and two pointing out, which represents the ability to capture a piece on the other corners of the rectangle formed by the King and Coordinator. The Chameleon resembles a chameleon in the form of the letter C, and it includes some holes that show the color of the space it is on, since real chameleons are known for changing their color to match their environment. The Long Leaper is in the form of a frog. The Immobilizer combines the shape of a stop sign with the crossed arms of a straitjacket for a double representation of immobility. The Withdrawer resembles some kind of herbivore prey animal fleeing from a predator. It is also designed to fit together with the Advancer to form the Pushme-Pullyu, a piece I invented with the power of both of these pieces. While most of the preceding pieces include both squares and triangles to represent the power to move orthogonally or diagonally, as a Queen does, the Pincer Pawn has no triangles, because it can only move orthogonally. It looks like a puzzle-piece with opposite sides that can fit together to represent that its capturing power depends on other pieces. The Swapper piece shows a square in a triangle and a triangle in a square, which is suggestive of swapping.
|Makes (1,3) jump.|
|Move 1 space in any direction.|
|Leaps 2 spaces diagonally. Also called Alfil. The tall, thin triangle represents an elephant's tusk, which is the shape used to represent this piece centuries ago. The Elephant is the ancestor of the modern Bishop. The name changed to Bishop when an elephant tusk was mistaken for a Bishop's miter.|
|Moves 1 space diagonally. Also called General.|
|Alternate image for Fers.|
|Makes (1,4) jump.|
|Leaps 2 spaces orthogonally. "War machine" is a translation of Dabbaba, which referred to a wheeled tower with a ladder for scaling the walls of a fortress or castle.|
|Moves 1 space orthogonally. Also called Vizer.|
|Makes (2,3) jump.|
Exclusive Leaper Compound Pieces
|Moves as Camel or Knight. Also called Gnu.|
|Moves as Elephant, War Machine, or Wazir. Created by Daniel MacDonald for Omega Chess. Abstract image designed to look like a coat-of-arms that reflects the piece's powers of movement.|
|Moves as Knight or Fers. Introduced as the Steel Queen in Mad Chess.|
|Moves as Knight or Wazir. Introduced as the Stone King in Mad Chess.|
|Moves as Knight, Elephant, or War Machine. Also called the Squirrel. A Rocket was easier to draw and seemed to fit the piece. And, by an amazing coincidence that occurred to me only later, Rocket is the first name of the world's best known squirrel, Rocket J. Squirrel of "Rocky and Bullwinkle."|
|Moves as Ferz, Wazir, Knight, Elephant, or War Machine. It may leap to any space in a two-space radius.|
|Moves as Elephant or War Machine, leaping two spaces in any diagonal or orthogonal direction. The eight legs of the Spider relect the eight directions of movement belonging to the piece. Also known as Alibaba. Used under the name of Spider in Interdependent Chess.|
|Moves as Knight or leaps 3 spaces orthogonally. From Mad Chess.|
|Moves as Camel or Fers. Created by Daniel MacDonald for Omega Chess.|
Exclusive Leaper-Rider Compound Pieces
|Moves as Knight, Bishop, or Rook. Also called Terror or Maharajah.|
|Moves as Knight or Bishop. Sometimes called Paladin or Cardinal.|
|Moves as Knight or Queen. Same as Amazon.|
|Moves as Knight or Rook. Sometimes called Marshall or Chancellor.|
|Moves as Queen or leaps 3 squares orthogonally. From Mad Chess.|
|Moves as Queen or leaps 3 squares diagonally. From Mad Chess.|
|Makes consecutive Elephant (Alfil) moves in same direction.|
|Makes consecutive Camel moves in same direction.|
|Makes consecutive War Machine (Dabbaba) moves in same direction.|
|Makes consecutive Knight moves in same direction.|
|Moves as Rook, Bishop, or Nightrider.|
|Moves as Rook or Nightrider.|
|Moves as Bishop or Nightrider. Introduced in Unicorn Chess as the Unicorn.|
|Moves as Rook, but must jump over another piece to capture. From Chinese Chess. Also known as Pao.|
|Leo moves as a Cannon or a Vao. This image may also be used for the fairy chess Lion, which moves as a Queen but must hop over another piece before reaching its destination.|
|Slides as Queen, hops over one piece, and lands on next square.|
|Slides as Queen, hops over one piece, capturing it, and lands on empty square.|
|Moves as Bishop, but must jump over another piece to capture.|
Divergent Compound Pieces
|Moves forward 1 space diagonally; Captures forward 1 space orthogonally. Also called Berolina Pawn.|
|Moves as Bishop; Captures as Queen. Introduced in Mad Chess as the Valkyrie.|
|Moves as Rook; Captures as Fers. Introduced in Mad Chess as the Crazy Footsoldier.|
|The Berolina equivalent of the Steward (see below). Moves one space diagonally without capturing or one space orthogonally to capture. Introduced by Fergus Duniho in Interdependent Chess.|
|Moves as Queen or Knight; Captures as Knight.|
|Moves as Queen or Nightrider; Captures as Knightrider.|
|Moves and captures as Elephant or War Machine; Captures as Wazir or Fers. This is the Murray Lion, not to be confused with the Leo or the fairy Chess Lion.|
|Moves as Rook; Captures as Queen. Introduced in Mad Chess as the Berserker.|
|Moves as Pawn backwards, forwards, or sideways. Moves one space orthogonally without capturing or one space diagonally to capture. Introduced by John William Brown in Centennial Chess.|
|Moves as Bishop; Captures as Wazir. Introduced in Mad Chess as the Mad Infantryman.|
Royal Compound Pieces
The King's motif is a cross composed of empty space. This motif is used in each of these royal pieces.
|Moves as King or Bishop. Introduced in Fusion Chess as the Pope.|
|Moves as King or Rook. Introduced in Fusion Chess as the Dragon King. Moves the same as the Shogi piece by the same name.|
|Moves as King or Knight. The royal piece in Cavalier Chess. Known as the Eques Rex in Fusion Chess.|
|Moves one space orthogonally, then one space diagonally outward. The Knight from Chinese Chess. The Cavalier from Cavalier Chess. Also known as Mao.|
|Moves as Wazir; Captures as Pawn. The circle with a dot is the alchemical symbol for gold. This pawn can move to the same spaces as a Gold General (from Shogi), but it can't capture orthogonally, and it can't move diagonally without capturing. So it's more limited than the Gold General. I think I created the piece while developing Wormhole Chess but eventually decided to use regular Pawns with that game.|
|Moves as Pawn or Cavalier; Captures as Pawn. Introduced by David Howe in Xhess.|
|Moves as Pawn or Bishop. The Gryphon in the Fairy Chess ZRF.|
|Moves as Pawn or Knight. The Dragon in the Fairy Chess ZRF.|
|Moves as Pawn or Rook.|
|Invented by Fergus Duniho for Interdependent Chess. Piece image is based on the symbol used for the Universalist denomination, now part of Unitarian Universalism.|
|Invented by Fergus Duniho for Voidrider Chess. Piece image is based on a Power Rangers helmet with a prominent V on the forehead.|
|1. Moves one space as Fers, then as Rook.|
2. Moves (not leaps) two spaces in any single direction. (Touranian International)
|Moves as Knight, or moves as a Rook along a file. Introduced as the Unicorn in Mad Chess.|
|Moves as Knight, or moves as a Rook along a rank. Introduced as the Rhynokeri in Mad Chess.|
|Same as Pawn but does not promote.|
Conditions of Free Use
There are three main possible uses for these images, and the conditions for use will vary depending on how they are used. The three main uses are Zillions of Games, Web pages (including online PBM servers), and standalone software. I'll begin with general conditions that apply to any use, then follow up with specific conditions for specific kinds of use. Any commercial use of these images requires explicit permission from myself, Fergus Duniho. These conditions apply to any free use of these images by anyone besides myself outside of Chessvariants.com:
- Any product you use them in must be free.
- You should specifically mention that these pieces were designed by Fergus Duniho and are not public domain.
- You should use the images at full size without shrinking or enlarging them.
- When using them on a chessboard, the spaces on the board should be large enough to fit the pieces without any cropping and without adjacent pieces touching each other.
- The colors used for the spaces of the chessboard should contrast with the colors of the pieces.
- Whenever possible, images should be used for the pieces they are intended to be, as described in this webpage. You may use your discretion in selecting images to use for pieces not mentioned on this page.
If you use these images on a web page or online PBM system, this additional condition applies:
- You should include a link to this webpage.
For standalone software, this additional condition applies:
- You should list a link to this webpage.
And for a Zillions-of-Games rules file, these additional conditions apply:
- Place them in a directory called "abstract".
- Don't change the image names.
- Include the following text in your ZRF:
; *** Abstract Chess Piece Images by Fergus Duniho ; *** These pieces are part of a larger set of abstract pieces. ; *** The whole set is at http://www.chessvariants.org/graphics.dir/abstract/ ; *** You may not use them in your ZRFs without including this notice.
Written by Fergus Duniho
WWW Page Created: Tue Oct 19, 1999.