Check out Alice Chess, our featured variant for June, 2024.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Tom Hartley.


Initial Setup

Played on a 14x14 board. (We made ours out of a checkered plastic-clothbacked tablecloth.)

Objective: Capture your opponent's Emperor.

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Pieces and Movement

Emperor (E) - Moves as standard King.

Marshall (M)- Moves as standard Queen, but can only capture like the standard King.

Guard Infantry (GI)- Moves as a two space Queen.

Guard Cavalry (GC)- Moves as standard Bishop.

Heavy Cavalry (HC)- Moves as the Knightrider.

Light Cavalry (LC)- Moves as the Camel.

Grenadiers (g)- Moves as a 4-direction pawn, or Steward. (elite infantry)

Dragoons (D)- Combines movement of standard Knight and Grenadier. (mounted infantry)

Heavy Infantry (hi)- Moves as the standard Pawn.

Light Infantry (li)- Moves as the Berolina Pawn.

Horse Artillery (HA)- Moves as the standard rook.

Foot Artillery (FA)- Moves as the Chinese Cannon.

Infantry promoted to Guard Infantry, or Dragoons. There is no castling and no en passant rule.

Armies during the Napoleonic wars were highly organized into a variety of specific fighting units. This was particularly true of the French Army. Below is a further subdivision of the French Army into specific types of units, with an associated Napoleonic Chess piece movement. Also is listed an approximately corresponding British (or other allied) unit. An interesting variation on Standard Napoleonic Chess, is to allow the generic units used there, to be replaced by any of the specific types of subunits listed below. The players agree as to which subunits are going to be used at the beginning of the game. I am particularly fond of the Mameluke that makes two knight moves, and I prefer to use that instead of the Bishop for the Guard Cavalry. Let's call this variant Free Choice Napoleonic Chess.

It should be noticed that Engineer units, Fortresses, Rivers, and Bridges are included in the list. We believed that these added some interesting possible variations. With the assortment of units available, even larger chess variants could be devised. This also allows the recreation of various real battle encounters, for those interested more in wargaming. This also allows the playing of standard chess with Napoleonic units. For example:

FIDE Napoleonic Chess

Eight by Eight board.

Use standard chess rules, played with
Infantry (Pawn)
Artillery (Castle)
Cavalry (Knight)
Guard (Bishop)
Marshall (Queen)
Emperor (King)

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Napoleon and the Ottomans

Ten by ten board
Use the rules for Turkish Great Chess

E - Emperor (King)
Ge- General (Queen+Knight))
ED- Empress Dragoons (Bishop+Knight)
Ca- Carabiniers (Queen)
AV- Artillerie Volante (Rook+Knight)
GC- Guard Cavalry (Bishop)
D - Dragoon (Knight)
FA- Field Artillery (Rook)
Hi- Heavy Infantry (Pawn)

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Listing of Napoleonic Chess Units, their appreviation, their movement, and the corresponding British/allied unit.

French						Great Britian (and allies)

Heavy Cavalry (HC)- (2,1)KtR		Heavy Cavalry
	Cuirassiers (Cu)- (2,1)KtR		Scots Greys
	Carabiniers (Ca)- Queen			Dragoon Guards-Carabinier
Light Cavalry (LC)-(3,1)Camel		Light Cavalry
	Hussars (H)- (3,1)Camel			Hussars
	Lancers (La)- 3spaceQueen		Light Dragoons
	Chasseurs a cheval (Cc)-(3,2)		(Mounted Jager)
Dragoons	(D)- (2,1)Kt+4wayPawn	Dragoons
Guard Cavalry (GC)- Bishop (B)	Guard Cavalry
	Grenadiers a cheval (gc)- g+B		Life Guards
	Empress Dragoons (ED)- B+Kt		Royal Horse Guards
	Mamelukes (M)- 2Kt				Asian cavalry, cossacks,
	tartars,lancers,...			Kalmuks,tartars,Bosniaks,
Guard Infantry (GI)- 2spaceQueen	Guard Infantry - Foot Guards
Heavy Infantry	(HI)- P				Heavy Infantry
	Grenadiers (g)- 4way P			Grenadiers (Janissaries)
	Fusiliers (f)- P					Line (Musketeers)
Light Infantry	(LI)- Berolina(BP)	Light Infantry
	Voltageurs (v)- BP+jump2	     	Cacadores (Portugal)
	Tirailleurs (t)- BP+(x2ahead) 	Rifles (Jagers)
	Chasseurs a pied (cp)- BP		Light Infantry
	Carabiniers a pied (cb)-4wayBP	Highlanders
Artillery	(A)- Rook				Artillery
	Artillerie a pied (FA)-Ch.Cannon 	Field Artillery
	Artillerie a cheval (HA)- Rook	Royal Horse Artillery
	Artillerie volante (AV)- R+Kt
Marshall (M)- mQ+xK				General
	General (Ge)- Q+Kt
Emperor (E)- K					Duke of Wellington

Engineers create/destroy fort.-K   Engineers

Fortification (we use a poker chip)
	 Protects inhabitants from any attack.
      Created on a square occupied by engineers as 1 turn
	 destroyed by engineers being adjacent as 1 turn
      or destroyed by surrounding on 4 sides + or x as as 1 turn
	 or destroyed upon evacuation if desired, but the evacuating 
	piece cannot capture if it destroys fortification.
	 No pieces may leap over an occupied fortification.

If a river is placed on the board, all units must stop in a river square before emerging in a later turn. Leaping units must actually land in the river on a natural turn. Bridges are created by engineers occupying the river square as 1 turn. It then effectively becomes a land square. It can be destroyed by any unit that occupies it as 1 turn.

Light Infantry & Fusiliers promoted to Guard Infantry, Dragoons, or Engineers.


(after all, it was the Grande Armee)

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A very short glossary.

Heavy Cavalry 
	Cuirassiers - Larger men on large horses, each wearing a 
		cuirass, or body armor.
	Carabiniers - Similar to Cuirassiers, but carrying a 
Light Cavalry	
	Hussars - Light cavalry adorned in the Hungarian cavalry 
		style, very flashy and cavalier.
	Lancers - Light cavalry armed with lances.
	Chasseurs a cheval - Standard light cavalry.
Dragoons	- Originally designed as mounted infantry.
Guard Cavalry 
	Grenadiers a cheval - Larger men on larger horses.
	Empress Dragoons - Special group of Guard Cavalry.
	Mamelukes - Flashy Egyptian cavalry that went into battle 
		carrying multiple weapons, and changing them at will.
		There were many different types of Asiatic cavalry
		including cossacks, tartars, kalmuks, etc..
Guard Infantry - Special distinguished infantry usually kept in
Heavy Infantry	
	Grenadiers - Infantry originally armed with grenades. 
		Evolved into elite infantry units containing the 
		largest men, at least 5 feet 8 inches tall.
	Fusiliers - Standard line infantry
Light Infantry	
	Voltageurs - Light infantry used as skirmishers that could 
		keep up with light cavalry.
	Tirailleurs - These were sharpshooters deployed ahead of the 
		main army to harass the enemy.
	Chasseurs a pied - Standard light infantry, often used as a 
		skirmishing screen for the main army.
	Carabiniers a pied - Elite units of the Chasseurs a pied.
	Artillerie a pied - Standard field, or foot artillery.
	Artillerie a cheval - Horse artillery.
	Artillerie volante - Horse artillery where even the gunners
		were mounted. 
	Marshall - The elite of the generals.
	General - Leaders of large numbers of units.
Emperor - Napoleon, of course.

This variant is an entry in the 1999 Large Variant contest.

Written by Tom Hartley.
WWW page created: April 30, 1999.