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The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, Gary Gifford.

Cannons of Chesstonia

(c) May 2006, by Gary K. Gifford

This game "popped into my head" a few days after discussing “GoChess” experiments with friend and Chess Variants Inventor, Joe Joyce.  It was also inspired by my Catapults of Troy which involves the launching of pieces.  That game, of course, drew inspiration from my admiration of Korean and Chinese Chess Cannons.  

Object: Checkmate your opponent, force your opponent to resign, win on time, or, if you are losing, obtain a draw if not possible to win.


As per first diagram.  Cannons are empty at the start of the game.

The board is 8x8, as in Chess with two 2x4 side extensions.  These are used for Cannon positioning and for the storage of 4 projectiles.   The original 32 Chess pieces cannot make use of the Cannon Zones.  Cannons cannot enter the 8x8 standard board area, nor the projectile storage area.

Note: The Game Courier Pre-set, nicely created by CV Editor, Jeremy Good - includes 2 Cannon Projectile Identity Squares.  These show whether a Cannon is empty or not, and if loaded, what it is loaded with.


Pieces: As in Chess, with the addition of a Cannon and four projectiles per side (Pawn, Wazir, Ferz, and Go Stone).

Cannons - A Black Cannon starts on z6. It moves vertically 1 to 3 squares.  It is limited to z3, z4, z5, and z6.  A White Cannon starts on i3 and is restricted to i3, i4, i5 and i6.  Before discussing how to operate the Cannon, a word about the projectiles:

Ferz and Wazir– After arriving on the 8x8 board, move and capture as traditionally.  No promotion.  Ferz - 1 space diagonally, any direction.
Wazir - 1 space orthoganlly, any direction.

Pawn – After arriving on the 8x8 board, moves and captures as in Chess.  It will move vertically forward and capture diagonally, just as your other pawns.

Stone – Cannot be captured.  Cannot move other than being launched from a Cannon.


How the Cannons work:  

LOADING: Simply move the desired projectile to the holding square (load status square).  The Cannon's location, in relation to the projectile at the time of loading, is not relevant.

The Cannons are empty at the beginning of a game.  Cannons can Load (consumes 1 turn), or Move (consumes 1 turn), or Fire (if already loaded) (consumes 1 turn), or Unload (consumes 1 turn).  Unload can be a waste of time, but, if you were going to launch a Wazir, and you realized you could instead, Launch a Pawn and promote it to a Queen in a few moves, then you could use: 

(a) a turn to unload,             Each turn is a separate move.
(b) a turn to load the Pawn 
(c) a turn to launch the pawn.  
Of course, in this scenario you could also simply launch the Wazir, then load the pawn on your next move.


a) Once all your projectiles have been launched, you can no longer move your Cannon.

b) If you think you got stalemated, check your Cannon.  As long as you have a projectile in storage (or loaded in the Cannon) you can move the Cannon, or launch the projectile… in this scenario Stalemate is not possible... {but it might be possible to stalemate your opponent, so be aware of his Cannon/Projectile status.

c) CANNONS ONLY SHOOT HORIZONTALLY along one of these ranks: 3, 4, 5, 6.  NO DIAGONAL SHOTS.

d) Projectiles cannot be shot into a Cannon zone; i.e., the projectiles must land in rank 3, 4, 5, or 6 on the 8x8 section of the board.

A loaded Cannon can fire its projectile over 1 piece (and only 1 piece)  friend or foe.  It cannot shoot the projectile if the projectile will not pass over a piece.  The projectile must land on a vacant square… they never land with capture; but can land to deliver check and/or block a check.  Example of a Cannon firing follows, ranks 7 and 8 are not shown.

Example of an opening where Black goes straight for a Cannon operation, suspending all “normal” chess moves: 

NOTE: In the game-courier pre-set you load Cannons by moving the projectile to a Cannon-Status Identity Square (at your right-hand edge of the board).  You would also move the projectile off of that square when firing your Cannon.


1. The Stone is a great blocking weapon.  You can use it to set up mating nets, defend your own King, or inhibit pawn advancement.

2. Though your Cannon pawn can help early in the game, saving it for an endgame might get you that Queen promotion you wished for.

3. Wazir and Ferz – simply use as you see best for your strategic and tactical concepts.

4. Cannons- Use them wisely.  You must invest moves (sacrifice some tempo) to use your Cannon.

To play on a real chess board with real pieces -  simply set the 4 projectiles at each side of an 8x8 board.  Then use a checker or some other flat surface indicator for the Cannons and place these next to a6 (to represent "x6" for black and h3 (to represent "i3") for white; as these are the starting squares for the Cannons.  Place a projectile on your Cannon to load it.  Move the Cannon adjacent to a3, a4, a5, or a6 when movong for black.  Adjacent to h3, h4, h5, or h6 for white.

A special thanks to Jeremy Good for his making of a game-courier pre-set.

© May 2006 by Gary K. Gifford
Chess diagrams made with Arena 1.1 and Microsoft Paint.

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Gary K. Gifford.
Web page created: 2006-05-20. Web page last updated: 2006-05-20