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The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, Charles Gilman.


Swapping round bits of FIDE piece moves to create Nimrod Chess resulted in one each of the four new pieces, making the pair of Knights rather an anomaly. While one way to resolve this was with Bachelor Nimrod's smaller army and board another would be with larger ones. While still balking at mixing the Knight's move with radial ones, I wondered about mixing it with the Camel move in a larger variant. As I could think of more than two pairs of such pieces I chose the pairs best balancing ease of understanding with strength of movement.

Naturally my jumping-off point was Wildebeest Chess with its neat balance between radial and oblique pieces. I retained its board, army size, total set of moves, and radial/oblique separation. As no resulting piece was colourbound I saw no need to place similar back-rank pieces (no identical ones remained) side by side, and so put radial ones on the first and third files in from each side and oblique ones on the second and fourth, as is more typical of variants with even numbers of files such as my own Reinforcement Ecumenical Chess and Wildeurasian Qi. The middle three files remained the Wildebeest ones as I was retaining their original pieces, the compound ones. The rotational, rather than mirror, symmetry between the armies in the array followed from these files.

My piece article Man and Beast 12: Alternative Fronts describes a wider range of pieces of the kind used here.



The KING moves one step orthogonally or diagonally.
The QUEEN moves any distance orthogonally or diagonally through empty intermediate cells.
The PAWN moves one step forward, diagonally when capturing, orthogonally otherwise.
The HUNTER moves forward as a Rook, or backward as a Bishop. It appears under the name Grey Whale in Whale Shogi.
The HAWKER moves forward as a Bishop, or backward as a Rook.
The HUNTRESS moves forward or sideways as a Rook, or backward as a Bishop - five directions including two opposite Rook ones.
The HAWKRESS moves backward or sideways as a Rook, or forward as a Bishop - five directions including two opposite Rook ones.
The GNU or Wildebeest combines all Knight and Camel leaps. Like the King the Gnu can triangulate - return to its square in 3 moves by describing a right triangle comprising 2 of its shorter moves and 1 of its longer one.
The HARTEBEEST leaps 3 ranks and 1 file or 2 files and 1 rank. Like the Camel it is rankswitching - always moving from an odd to an even rank or vice versa, and so cannot lose the move. The name is an African ungulate's name similar to Wildebeest and starting with the H of Helm. Corresponding subsets of the Zebu, Guru, and Sadhu moves give the Sartebeest, Bartebeest, and Vartebeest. As a bonus hart is an old English word for a male deer corresponding to hind for a female deer. This ties in with the Hindrook of Altorth Hex Chess and Ringworld Chess also having a subset of a symmetric piece's move.
The COHARTEBEEST leaps 2 ranks and 1 file or 3 files and 1 rank. Like the Camel it is fileswitching - always moving from an odd to an even file or vice versa, and so cannot lose the move. The name refers to replacing the subset of each Gnu-component's move with those of its dual's move, like the Cobison and Cogazelle of Man and Beast 03: From Ungulates Outward. Corresponding subsets of the Zebu, Guru, and Sadhu moves give the Cosartebeest, Cobartebeest, and Covartebeest.
The HINNY advances like a Hartebeest or retreats like a Cohartebeest, and can also be seen as a compound of the Cram (3:1 version of the Crab) and the Barc. The name is after a hybrid ungulate, like the more familar mule but with horse as father and donkey as mother rather than vice versa. The animal's hybridity evokes the imbalance between forward and backward moves. Corresponding subsets of the Zebu, Guru, and Sadhu moves give the Sinny, Binny, and Vinny.
The COHINNY advances like a Cohartebeest or retreats like a Hartebeest, and can also be seen as a compound of the Crab and Marc (3:1 version of the Barc). The name refers to replacing the subset of each Gnu-component's move with those of its dual's move, again like the Cobison and Cogazelle. Corresponding subsets of the Zebu, Guru, and Sadhu moves give the Cosinny, Cobinny, and Covinny.


Pawns have same optional initial moves as in Wildebeest itself, complete with En Passant.

The King may Castle with either five-way piece, exactly as with Rooks in Wildebeest itself.

Pawns are promoted to any other capturable array piece type on reaching the far rank.

Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate are as usual.


Pieces can be represented by 11 Pawns used indiscriminately, and 1 of each other piece, from 2 distinguishable FIDE sets, e.g. large King as King and large/small Queen as Queen/Gnu, Rook as Huntress/Hartebeest, inverted Rook as Hawkress/Cohartebeest, Bishop as Hunter/Hinny, Knight as Hawker/Cohinny.

The Co-prefix should be stressed in piece names starting with it. This is mainly to emphasise the difference from the piece without, but partly to make Cohinny sound less like Queen, as the variant has both pieces.

One pair of pieces that I considered but rejected were the Gnuranker, which like the Fibnif has no move exceeding one file left/right, and Gnufiler, which has none exceeding one rank forward/backward. This seemed too limiting on a larger-than-FIDE board, and too far removed from the ranges of the original Knight and Camel.

Where an oblique triangulator's colourswitching component has its even coordinate longer than its odd, the Hartebeest counterpart is rankswitching and the Cohartebeest one fileswitching (e.g. Bartebeest/Cobartebeest from 4:1 Giraffe). Where it has its odd coordinate longer than its even, the Harbebeest counterpart is fileswitching and the Cohartebeest counterpart rankswitching (e.g. Sartebeest/Cosartebeest from 3:2 Zebra, Vartebeest/Covartebeest from 5:2 Satyr).

The name Hinny may raise two questions. Firstly, why bring donkey genes in for a piece mixing some Knight (horse) and some Camel leaps? Well, horses and camels cannot interbreed anyway. Secondly, why not use Mule for the reversed Hinny? Partly because Cohinny does the task perfectly well and partly because Mule would not extrapolate to other pairs of oblique directions. It occurred to me recently that the currently spare Mustang and Mule could be used for one-off pieces with subsets of the Gazelle moves - Zebraranker+Nightfiler and Zreb+Barc respectively. However, there would also need to be distinct names for Nightranker+Zebrafiler and Crab+Berz, as Comustang and Comule would more logically be Zemelranker+Camelfiler and Zrem+Marc. Perhaps Mule should be Nightranker+Zebrafiler. It would also be logical to have four real words to name the pieces with the corresponding subsets of the Bison moves and the same prefixed by Co- the ones with Cobison moves.

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 Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2008-01-17. Web page last updated: 2019-07-08