Spartan Chess™ is a chess variant played on a standard 8x8 chess board.
The two sides have pieces and pawns with different characteristics and
capabilities. Such differences you would expect between opponents on an
actual ancient battlefield.
The Black side represents the Spartans and the White the Persians. The Persians have pawns, pieces, an initial placement and move in accord with the rules of orthodox chess. The Spartans have two Kings and with the exception of their Kings, every Spartan playing piece moves differently from any piece found in orthodox chess.
Spartan Chess Features:
A Persian army (white) identical to that of orthodox chess
A Spartan army led by two Kings
Spartan pawns (hoplites) that move differently than orthodox pawns
Spartan pieces that move differently than any found in orthodox chess
Asymmetric play and feel
Can be played with a standard chess set
Different victory conditions for both sides
Play Spartan Chess against the computer through Jocly
Play Spartan Chess against others via Game Courier
King e1; Queen d1; Rooks a1, h1; Knights b1, g1; Bishops c1, f1; Pawns a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2.
Kings c8, f8; General b8; Warlord g8; Captains d8, e8; Lieutenants a8, h8; hoplites a7, b7, c7, d7, e7, f7, g7, h7.
Using Non-Orthodox Chess Sets
If you have a Capablanca, Embassy or Gothic chess set you can use the Chancellor to represent the General and the Archbishop to represent the Warlord. Other styles of Bishops, Knights, Rooks and pawns, from a second and different style set, can help to distinguish the Spartans from the Persians and remind players of their different characteristics.
Using an Orthodox Set
Spartan Chess can be played with an orthodox chess set. When using a orthodox chess set substitute orthodox pieces for Spartan pieces as follows:
|For Spartan Piece||Use Orthodox Piece|
PiecesThe Spartan pieces move as described in this section. See section "Notes" for explanation of
symbols used in the following diagrams.
Spartan General or Strategos
The General may move as a Rook or as a King.
Spartan Warlord or Polemarchos
The Warlord may move as a Bishop or jump as a Knight.
Captain or Tyntagmatarchos
The Captain jumps to move or capture one or two squares horizontally or vertically.
If the first square is blocked by a friendly or enemy piece, then the Captain may jump over the first square to the second square to capture or move.
Lieutenant or Tagmatarchos
The Lieutenant jumps to move or capture either one or two squares diagonally or can move one square horizontally.
If the first square diagonally is blocked by a friendly or enemy piece, then Lieutenant may jump over the first square to the second diagonal square to capture or move.
Hoplite or Spartan pawn
Hoplites move differently than pawns, illustrated and explained as follows:
Hoplite Movement - The hoplite may move one square forward diagonally and captures one square directly ahead. Hoplites may not move backwards.
Hoplite First Move - A hoplite may move one or two squares diagonally on its first move and on this first move may jump over the first square to the second. Hoplites may not capture by jumping.
All rules of orthodox chess apply except as amended by these rules.
The Spartan and Persian have different victory conditions.
Spartan Victory - The Spartan wins when the Persian King is checkmated as in orthodox chess.
Persians Victory - The Persian wins once one of the Spartan Kings is captured and the remaining Spartan King is checkmated or when both Spartan Kings are placed under simultaneous attack (duple-check) and neither King can be removed from attack on the next move (Duple-Check and Mate).
The Persians, being the aggressors historically and White, always move first.
When the Spartan has two Kings in play a Spartan King is immune from check. Thus, the Spartan may move a King onto an enemy attacked square, leave a King under attack or move a piece that would expose a King to attack.
Duple-Check & Mate
If both Spartan Kings are placed under simultaneous attack this is a form of check called duple-check. It is illegal for the Spartan to make a move that will place both of his Kings underattack. With both Kings under attack, the Spartan loses if on his move he is unable to remove at least one King from attack. In such case the game ends in checkmate.
A hoplite, upon reaching the 8th rank, may promote to any Spartan piece including a King but only if the Spartan has only one king in play.
Capturing en passant
There is no capturing en passant in Spartan Chess.
Spartan Kings may not castle.
Download a zip file containing a pdf format copy of the rules here.
Use an accepted orthodox set of notation to record Spartan Chess games plus these symbols.
Symbols Used in Illustrations
The following characters are used in the accompanying diagrams:
With different armies different strategies are effective for Persian and Spartan.
Spartan Chess game after 17 moves recorded using reversable algebraic notation.
15. King moves into attack
Mr. H.G. Muller programmed a version of his application
Fairy-Max to play Spartan Chess.
Fairy-Max is a chess playing engine that runs with WinBoard, a graphical chess interface. With this package hundreds of computer vs computer games were played. Mr. Muller's testing and comments were important to the final form and play balance of this chess variation.
You can download a copy of Mr H.G. Muller's f-Max WinBoard package here: Download Spartan f-Max.
Unzip the file to your root directory.
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|Disk Playing Pieces
You, like others, may make your own set Spartan Chess set in a style similiar to an oriental chess set from artwork you can dowload.
|Spartan Chess set artwork||Download||View *|
|Set made by Calvin Daniels||View *|
Conventional Chess Set
A convention Spartan Chess set is under development and is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2011. You may view sketches for the Spartan pieces here: Spartan Chess Pieces
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 Steven Streetman.
Last revised by H. G. Muller.
Web page created: 2010-11-05. Web page last updated: 2023-02-13