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The Chess Variant Pages

The Emperor's Game


Invented circa 1815 by a councillor in Berlin by the name of Peguilhen, this game (also known as the Kaiser's Game), as well as a slightly larger version, were first described in 1819 in the first volume of Archiv der Spiele. Although the author of this work was anonymous, he writes that he did personally meet with Peguilhen, and that these games were created a few years previous. It was later described by Ludwig Tressau of Leipzig in his 1840 work Das Schachspiel, siene Gattungen und Abarten, (The Game of Chess, its Types and Varieties), which may be the first book ever devoted entirely to chess variants.


The game is played on an 10 by 10 board. In addition to the usual Chess pieces, each player has a Commander, an Adjudant, and two extra Pawns. The game starts with the following opening setup.

King e1; Queen f1; Commander d1; Adjudant g1; Rook a1, j1; Knight b1, i1; Bishop c1, h1; Pawn a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2, i2, j2.

King e10; Queen f10; Commander d10; Adjudant g10; Rook a10, j10; Knight b10, i10; Bishop c10, h10; Pawn a9, b9, c9, d9, e9, f9, g9, h9, i9, j9.

Initial Setup:


The Adjudant has the combined moves of Bishop and Knight.

The Commander has the combined moves of Queen and Knight (thus, it can move as Rook, Bishop, or Knight).


Pawns may make a double or triple step for their first move, so a white Pawn on e2 can move to e3, e4, or e5 (or capture at d3 or f3). At each squares passed over, the Pawn can be taken en passant. Pawns can promote to Commander, Queen, Adjudant, Rook, Knight, or Bishop, but only to a piece that has been previously captured.

A player can castle under the same conditions as orthodox chess. When castling, the king moves three squares when castling short and four when castling long. The rook always moves the same number of squares in the opposite direction (thus rook and king do not end up at adjacent positions after castling.)

Other rules are as in orthodox chess.


John Gollon, well known by chess variant enthousiasts for his book on chess variants, now unfortunately out of print, was working on a second book on chess variants. Also unfortunately, this second book was never published. Gollon has sent some materials from a draft of the book to Eric Greenwood in 1976.

An earlier version of this page was based on that text. It has now been updated with new information from A World of Chess, by Jean-Louis Cazaux and Rick Knowlton. The invention of this game was previously attributed to L. Tressau of Leipzig. Tressau published a book describing it, but did not invent it.

Written by Greg Strong, based upon A World of Chess by Jean-Louis Cazaux and Rick Knowlton.
WWW page created: 1997-09-01.
WWW page updated: 2020-12-16.