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The Chess Variant Pages

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

Maces, Horse-apults, and Tulpas

By Gary K. Gifford March 2008

The preset is here:

This game is like Maces and Horse-apults, with exception that Tulpas can be created and added to the game.

What are Tulpa pieces? Tulpa pieces are pieces that a player creates with his or her mind. In the game this will be simulated with playing cards. I have provided additional Tulpa information in the notes and you can read more about Tulpas on the internet.


The setup is identical to that seen in Maces and Horse-apults. The pre-set starts with 10 Tulpas visible in the center of the board (5 per player); all of these are removed before White makes his first move.

Note: The reason the Tulpa pieces are shown on the board is so they can be available as part of the used piece set (without needing to load the entire large piece set).


Pieces are as in Maces and Horse-apults. If you are not familiar with that game you should read the rules for that game, then return here.

There are also 5 possible extra pieces per side. These are Tulpas:

Amazon - moves like a Knight or Queen.

Wild Ox - Moves and captures as a Knight, plus can make one capture of an adjacent piece after moving. The Wild Ox piece is borrowed from Odin's Rune Chess. Examples of Wild Ox moves and captures can be seen in the Rules for Odin's Rune Chess. A Wild Ox can capture two pieces per turn (one by the Knight move displacement and one by its Mace-like capture, which for this beast is attributed to a horn-thrust).

Archer - Moves one or two spaces like a King, or shoots 1 or two spaces to the first clear enemy target. Instead of capturing by shooting, it can instead, capture by displacement. This piece is borrowed from Catapults of Troy. Examples of it can be seen in those rules.

Spider - The spider is a Medusa piece that moves like a King and immobilizes adjacent enemy pieces. Think of the adjacent enemy as being stuck in a web. This is essentially the Spider seen in Dimension X, however in this game it can move in the Fide-like world.

Mace - Moves like a King. But, captures one adjacent enemy piece per turn. If the Mace does not move, it gets a free capture of an adjacent enemy (a capture is mandatory, if possible, even if it puts you in check). If a Mace moves it can only capture from a space that is adjacent to its new resting space.


Rules are as in Maces and Horse-apults with these exceptions:

Each player starts with 10 cards (5 representing Black Tulpas and 5 representing White Tulpas). Note that no Tulpa piece is on the board at the beginning of the game (your two starting Maces will be present, but not the Tulpa Mace).


1) As White, keep your cards hidden and place one White card face-down on the table. Let's say that you place the Amazon face down.

2) Black now also places a card (for a White Tulpa) face down on the table. 3) Turn the two cards over. If they match, (2 Amazons in this case) White gets to add the Amazon to any free space on ranks 1 or 2. By matching cards White has created a piece, a Tulpa Amazon. In this case both players discard their White Amazon Tulpa card. And on White's second turn his chance of creating a remaining Tulpa will be 1 out of 4 instead of 1 out of 5. If the cards did not match, White failed to create his Tulpa and the cards are returned to the White sets of 5.

4) White makes a normal move. If he added a Tulpa to the game, he can move it instead of moving one of the standard pawns or pieces.

5) The process repeats for Black.

This is repeated for each turn. Once a player has his 5 Tulpas the card process ends for him. He cannot recreate any captured Tulpas.

Note that pawns cannot promote to Tulpas (with exception of the Mace (as there are non-Tulpa Maces).


I first read about Tulpas in the book "Secrets and Mysteries of the World," by Sylvia Brown, (c) 2005; published by Hay House, Inc. What is a Tulpa? According to believers a Tulpa is something created with the mind. For example, if I imagined a dog and the conditions were right I would create this dog with my mind. The dog would appear real(even to others)but the Tulpa dog would have no actual dog parents. The Tulpa concept seems to have its origins in Tibet.

So I started thinking about Tulpas and chess. Imagining one player trying to "think" a helping piece into existence while his opponent tried to stop him (thus the use of the Tulpa cards).

If your opponent's card never matches yours, you will never create a Tulpa piece. But, once you beat the 1:5 odds it will be easier to create the second Tulpa (1:4), then the third (1:3). When you get to creating your fourth Tulpa (1:2) you will have a 50:50 chance of success. When you get to Tulpa 5 you and your opponent will have only that Tulpa card remaining, so you are guaranteed to obtain that Tulpa on that turn (1:1).

If you end up being really good, you may end up with extra chess pieces lying around the house.

QUESTION: How can this game be played using CV? After all, we can't use the Tulpa cards.

ANSWER: You can play this game using CV, but you will need a third party, a Tulpa referee. At present, I do not mind being such a referee for up to 5 games, should players want to give this game a try. How it would work: Instead of using cards, both players would send their face-down card choice to me (to the referee)... I would then confirm Tulpa created or not created (in an e-mail or via Kibitz note, as preferred by the players). Obviously, for an internet game, you will need a trustworthy referee. For a face-to-face game the card method will work fine.

Clarifications to be added as needed.

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: 2008-03-23. Web page last updated: 2008-03-23