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The Piececlopedia is intended as a scholarly reference concerning the history and naming conventions of pieces used in Chess variants. But it is not a set of standards concerning what you must call pieces in newly invented games.

Piececlopedia: Nightrider

Historical notes

The Nightrider is one of the two most popular fairy chess pieces by chess problemists. It was given the name by the famous British chess problem composer T. R. Dawson, appearing in his book Fairy Problems in 1925. According to the Oxford Companion to Chess, however, the piece was actually invented in 1907 by W. S. Andrews. The technical name for the piece is Knightrider, but nightrider was already a meaningful English word, making it a more suitable name for the piece.

This piece has been used in such recent variants as Cavalier Chess and Grand Cavalier Chess by Fergus Duniho, and in Xhess by David Howe.


The Nightrider can make a move like a Knight, but then can continue to move in the same direction. Thus, it can make one or more successive Knight-leaps, all in the same direction: the spaces visited by all but the last jump must be empty.

Movement Diagram

Note that e.g. d4 must be empty for the nightrider to be able to go to e6.

Vocabulary: Rider

The Nightrider is a Knight-rider. A rider is a piece that can repeat the same type of leap in a single direction — until it captures a piece or its next leap would be to an occupied space. The Nightrider repeats the Knight's leap in a single direction. It may continue leaping like a Knight in one direction until it captures a piece or is blocked from further leaping. Although the Nightrider isn't used in standard Chess, that game has three riders of its own. The Rook is a Wazir-rider, the Bishop is a Ferz-rider, and the Queen is a compound of these two. As a Wazir-rider, a Rook repeats the single-space orthogonal leap of a Wazir until it is blocked from moving any further. Likewise, a Bishop repeats the single-space diagonal leap of a Ferz until it is blocked.


The Nightrider cannot inflict checkmate on a rectangular board with only assistance of its own King, and is thus a minor piece. Itt can force checkmate on a bare King with the help of almost any other piece, including a Knight. It needs a lot of room for this manouevre, though, so its mating skills degrade to that of a normal Knight on 6x6 or smaller boards. Try it!

Alternate Images

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Abstract Set Alfaerie Set Motif Set Cazaux Set

This is an item in the Piececlopedia: an overview of different (fairy) chess pieces.
Written by Fergus Duniho and Hans Bodlaender.
Updated by Greg Strong.
WWW page created: 1998-10-30.
WWW page updated: 2020-12-21.