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The Prime Minister

The Prime Minister (Bishop + Knight) is not a new piece, it's been known and used for years. It is also named Archbishop, Cardinal, Centaur, Adjutant, Equerry, Hawk, Vizir and Janus, among a few other names, in different games.

The Prime Minister:

Drawing of the Prime Minister from Gabriel Vicente Maura's book: “Mathematical Thesis of Modern Chess”

History of the Prime Minister

There are several instances in the past where the Prime Minister was used on different boards under different names.

Pietro Carrera in 1617 inserted two new pieces, a Champion, having the moves of rook and knight, to be placed between the king's rook and king's knight and a Centaur, combining the moves of bishop and knight placed between the queen's rook and queen's knight on a 10x8 board.

L. Tressan, of Leipsig, in 1840 created 10x10 and 11x11 board variants with an Adjutant (Bishop + Knight) as one of the additional pieces.

Henry Bird in 1874 suggested a board 10x8 and two new pieces, a Guard (Rook + Knight) and Equerry (Bishop + Knight), the former placed by the side of the queen and the latter by the side of the king, all other pieces remaining in the same positions.

World Champion José Raul Capablanca proposed a new 10x8 chess variant after he had gained the world champion title (from Lasker) in the 1920s, and two new pieces, an Archbishop (Bishop + Knight) and the Chancellor (Rook + Bishop), the former placed between the Queen’s Bishop and Knight and the latter between the King’s Bishop and Knight.

Gabriel Vicente Maura introduced the Prime Minister in his 1968 invention, Modern Chess, and published it to the world in his 1973 book Mathematical Thesis of Modern Chess:

Other recent uses for the Prime Minister are in Janus Chess on a 10x8 board by Stephan Blasius in 1978, and in a chess variant invented by grandmaster Yasser Seirawan in 2007, which uses a Hawk (Bishop + Knight) and the Elephant (Rook + Knight), and is played on the standard 8x8 board.

In 2008 the Prime Minister was revived in Modern Random Chess, Prime Ministers Chess and it's random variant; as well as the Prime Ministers Contemporary Random Chess variant.

Pictures of the Prime Minister

Kings and their Prime Ministers from an original Modern Chess set

Homemade Prime Ministers

Knight crowned by small Bishop, Bishop crowned with small Knight, and a crownless King.

Knights crowned with the heads of Bishops.

Movement of the Prime Minister

The Prime Minister has the combined moves of a Bishop and a Knight. The Minister has the long range of a Bishop, without the ability of leaping as it moves diagonally; and the leaping carateristics of the Knight in the short range.

The two diagrams above display the reach of the Prime Minister. Note on the second diagram a lonely Minister with it's 4-square block attack could mate an opponent's King at the corners of the board.

Two more examples. The second diagram shows a Minister fork to the Queen and Rook (in green, to display that they are both under attack), and how the White (or green) Queen and the Black Pawns limit the diagonal range of the Minister, but how it's Knight leaping component is unaffected.

The Prime Minister is the a piece capable of giving a checkmate on it's own. Sample Prime Minister's checkmates:

Approximate Value of the Prime Minister in the different size boards:


Games that use the Prime Minister:

Some games that use the Prime Minister under a different name:

The Prime Minister in action!

Modern Chess
José Carrillo (CAN) - Luis Menéndez (PUR)
CV Game Courier, March 2008

after 20.Mf7+ 1-0 (after 20... Ki9 [forced] 21.Bi7!, White threatens 22.Mg8# and 22.Bh8#)

Modern Random Chess
Carlos Cetina (MEX) - José Carrillo (CAN)
CV Game Courier, June 2008

after 19.Qb3+!! cxb3 20.Mxb3# 1-0 mate!

Prime Ministers Contemporary Random Chess
José Carrillo (PUR) - Pablo Denegri (PER)
OTB - June 20, 2008

after Mb4# 1-0 mate!

Prime Ministers Contemporary Random Chess
Pablo Denegri (PER) - José Carrillo (PUR)
OTB - July 2, 2008

after ... Mxe3# 1-0 mate!

Modern Random Chess
Armin Liebhart (AUT) - José Carrillo (CAN)
CV Game Courier, July 2008

after 41... Rxa3+!! 1-0 (after 42. bxa3 [forced] 21.Mc3# mate!)


Thanks to Luis Menéndez, from Manatí, Puerto Rico, for introducing me to Maura's Modern Chess, the Prime Minister, and for giving me the original Modern Chess set below as a present.


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Author: Jose Carrillo.
Web page created: 2008-06-06. Web page last updated: 2008-12-31