Check out Chess with Different Armies, our featured variant for July, 2024.

This page is written by the game's inventor, William Schmidt.

Knight Mare

By William C. Schmidt



Knight Mare is a large board variant. 


Knight Mare is a large board variant consisting of 11 rows x 11 columns with 120 cells and  a non-playing center cell called Hyperion; (a dead cell; must go around) the world's tallest tree growing in the center cell.


The two ranks contain 11 pawns and 11 power pieces.

Choose mode, place pawns on appropriate rank. 

Set power pieces left to right: Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen, Empress / Emperor, Maharani / Maharaja ,  Sultan / Czar, Bishop, Cardinal / Pope, Knight, Rook. 


  Maharaja is a royal Knighted Queen placed in the center column, moves as Queen and a Knight may not suicide. Should another piece be designated royal this piece shall be called a Maharani.

  Sultan is a Knighted King placed next to the Maharaja on the right side, moves like a King and a Knight. Should this piece be designated Royal it shall be called a Czar.

Bishop is placed in the next cell to the right of Sultan/Czar (rule of thumb: Sultan does not communicate directly with Cardinal he must contact the Bishop who relays info to the Cardinal) hence Sultan, Bishop, Cardinal.

Cardinal is a Knighted Bishop placed in the 3rd cell to the right of the Maharaja. The cell to the right of the Sultan's Bishop; It moves like a Bishop and a Knight. Should this piece be designated Royal it shall be called a Pope.

Knight is placed in the next to last column on each side.

Rook is placed in the last column on each side.

Empress is a Knighted Rook placed immediately to the left of the Maharaja, moves like a Knight and a Rook. Should this piece be designated Royal it shall be called an Emperor.

Queen is placed in the 2nd cell to the left of the Maharaja, next to the Empress. Should this Queen be promoted once it shall be called a Vizier. Should this Queen be promoted a second time it shall be called a Grand Vizier. Since this Queen cannot be designated royal this helps distinguish this piece from the various ranks of the Maharaja.



Getting started:

Setup as above. White goes first.

Royalty may be given to any one of the four knighted pieces (Empress to Emperor, Maharaja to Maharani, Sultan to Czar, or Cardinal to Pope) by agreement of both players prior to starting. Both players must have the same Royal piece. 

All power pieces (i.e., not Pawns) may be promoted in rank by various methods. Demotion is also a possibility. 

Royal pieces may not suicide (move into check).

Methods of Promotion:

First promotion: When all of a player's Pawns have moved one rank forward, Ridership is granted to all power pieces remaining in arsenal.

Additional Promotions: When a player attains the back rank with a Pawn: All of the opponent's power pieces are demoted to their original powers at the start of play, before automotion. Also Knighthood or Ridership is bestowed upon one power piece not yet at maximum power of the player's choice. If the chosen piece is a Rook, Knight, or Bishop both pieces are promoted if they still remain in play. Opponent's power pieces remain in demotion until offending pawn(s) is/are captured. Player's promoted piece retains powers even if Pawn is captured. Pawn does not change but remains in place unless captured.


Knight may be promoted to a Knightrider.

Rook may be promoted three ways: Knighthood, should this Rook be knighted, it shall be called a Shayke. If this Rook is endowed with Ridership (deflecting ability) it shall be called a Mutajid. A Shayke endowed with ridership is called a Sayyid.


Modes of Play

Automote: Should both players have an unchanging desire to attain the first promotion at the first opportunity and both agree, all Pawns are moved forward one rank. Promotion occurs, and play begins; White goes first.

Promote: Promotion occurs according to rules.

Bequeathable Powers:

Knighthood: Knighting a power piece simply adds the ability to move as a Knight to a power piece. But what if you knighted a Knight? A Knighted Knight is a Knightrider

Ridership: A Knight that possesses Ridership may move like a Knight as many moves as are open or (capturing on last move) in the same direction. Example: Knightrider begins by moving north and east. If an empty cell is available, or if capturing, the Knightrider may continue to move in a north x east direction. It may not move south, nor may it move west, until next turn. What if the ability to continue moving were granted to a Bishop?

Deflection: In this game Deflection is a form of Ridership and will be referred to as such in any following discussion. A Bishop with the power of deflection may move to edge of the board or one of Hyperion's faces, deflect once and continue if unobstructed to any cell or capture piece at end of travel. Rooks and Queens with the power of deflection may move to the edge of the board or one of Hyperion's faces, turn right or left, only once, and continue if unobstructed, to any cell or capture the piece at end of travel.

Empowerment of pieces by order of perceived power

Granting Ridership on the first promotion alters pieces in the following ways:

Maharani: Knighted non-royal queen becomes a Devi.

Maharaja: Royal Knighted Queen becomes a Deva.

Empress: Non-royal Knighted Rook becomes an Imperial Empress.

Emperor is the Royal title of an Empress. If this piece is designated royal it is called Emperor regardless of ridership, but it still may receive promotion .

Queen: A Queen promoted with Ridership becomes a Vizier.

Vizier: An additional promotion, knighthood, may be granted to this piece making it a Grand Vizier.

Grand Vizier: A Knighted Queen, although this piece has identical powers to the Maharani at the start of the game, it cannot be designated Royal, so is therefore a different piece.

Cardinal: A non-royal Knighted Bishop receiving ridership becomes a Crown Cardinal. The Royal designation of a Cardinal/Crown Cardinal is Pope.

Sultan: A non-royal Knighted King receiving ridership becomes a Shah. A Royal Sultan/Shah is a Czar.

Rook: A Rook receiving Ridership becomes a Mutajid. A Rook entering knighthood, although possessing the same powers as the Empress, cannot be designated royal so becomes instead a Shayke. Granting Ridership to a shayke makes a Sayyid. Should both Rooks remain in play both are promoted when such occurs.

Bishop: A Bishop receiving Ridership or entering knighthood, no matter, becomes an Archbishop. An Archbishop possessing either knighthood or ridership, no matter, and receiving the as yet unprocessed power is promoted to Cardinal-elect. Both promote.

Knights become Knightriders. Both promote.


Playing Tips

Helpful hint for homemade boards: Place a checker of the opposite color, for contrast, under each promoted piece, should piece receive a second promotion an opposite (from the first checker) color checker should be placed under the first checker.

By applying all the criteria, with the exception of Hyperion, to a Standard Chess Board you will get a game I have named Knight Times.

Add a set of checkers to your chess pieces, to be used for promotional purposes and continue.




Archbishop: [DS.K/R.#A] a Knighted or a Riding Bishop.

Automote is fast set up to immediate promotion. By agreement of both players, all Pawns are moved one cell forward, Ridership is endowed to all power pieces, (promotion occurs).

Bishop: [DS#B]

Cardinal: [DKS#C] Knighted bishop at the start of game that may be designated a Royal Piece.

Crown Cardinal: [DKRS#Cr] a Cardinal that has been endowed with Ridership.

Diagonal: [D]

Deflection: a form of Ridership affecting the diagonal and orthogonal movements of a piece. Diagonal motion is enhanced with the ability to deflect once off the edge of the board. Orthogonal motion is enhanced with the ability to turn right or left, once at the edge of the board.

Deva: [DOKRS#Da] a Royal Riding Maharaja.

Devi: [DOKRS#Di] a non-royal Riding Maharani, the most powerful piece.

Emperor: [OK#Er] an Empress that has been given a royal designation.

Empress: [OK#Es] a Knighted Rook.

Grand Vizier: [DOKRS#G] same as Maharani but cannot be designated royal.

Hyperion: a four-faced dead spot, cannot use, cannot go through, must go around, located in the center cell of Knight Mare, Niners, & Missing Link. It was named after the World's tallest tree. Riding sliders are permitted one deflection off any face.

Imperial Empress: [OKRS#I] an Empress endowed with Ridership.

Knight; [K#K]

Knighthood: a piece possessing the ability to move like a Knight.

Knightrider: [KR#N] moves as Knight as many segments as are open and/or capturing piece attend of last segment, in one direction.

Maharaja: [DOKRS#Ma] a Royal Knighted Queen, the anchor piece located in the center column. The game began development with this piece being Royal. [I saw an opportunity to make three other royal pieces and just filled in the blanks.]

Maharani: [DOKRS#Mi] a non-royal Knighted Queen.

Mutajid: [ORS#Mu] a Riding Rook.

Orthogonal: [O] vertical + horizontal movement.

Promotion: While there are only two methods of promotion/demotion, I am certainly open to suggestions. If anyone invents another method of promotion, and both players agree, go for it!!! If you wish to offer a method of promotion to be entered in the official rules for this game, send suggestion as a comment to this page, message will be forwarded to the author of this page for consideration and credit given to inventor if approved.

  Pope: [DKRS#P] a Royal Cardinal, whether it is endowed with Ridership or not.

Riders: [R] -Pieces endowed with ridership.

Ridership: a form of Knighthood allowing pieces to move further than in Orthodox chess. Ridership applies to all movements a piece can make.

Rook: [OS#R] 

Sayyid: [OKRS#Sa] a knighted riding Rook.

Slider: [S] moves more than one space in desired direction.

Shah: [DOKR#Sh] a non-royal Riding Knighted King.

Shayke: [OKS#Sk] Non-royal Rook with knighthood.

Sultan: [DOK#Su] a non-royal Knighted King.

Vizier: [DOR#V] a Riding Queen.

[ ]: motivation/algebraic denotation.

Computer Play

Play Knight Mare on Game Courier.