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This page is written by the game's inventor, Bob Greenwade. This game is a favorite of its inventor.

Beast Chess

The idea for Beast Chess came when I noticed how many fairy chess pieces were named for animals. I just thought, why not fill the whole game with them?

After a bit of research, I determined that loading the board with beast-type fairy pieces wasn't feasable; the King and Pawns still needed to behave as in the standard game; and if the King did, then the Queen probably should as well. The Bishop, Knight, and Rook were fair game, though.



Beast Chess can be played with the standard pieces, with a set of all beast-like pieces, or a mixture. The setup board here, and any other diagrams, assume the latter, treating each piece as its move style.This setup simply replaces the Bishops with Rhinos, Knights with Gnus, and Rooks with Eagles.

If you want to play with all animal figures, I suggest using a lion for the King, a lioness (or similar figure) for the Queen, and squirrels for Pawns. The result would look something like this:

That's only for purposes of illustration, though; the moves of the King, Queen, and Pawns would still be the same.

Try it!


files=8 ranks=8 promoZone=1 promoChoice=QERG graphicsDir=/graphics.dir/alfaeriePNG/ squareSize=50 graphicsType=png symmetry=none pawn:P:ifmnDfmWfceF:pawn:a2,b2,c2,d2,e2,f2,g2,h2,,a7,b7,c7,d7,e7,f7,g7,h7 queen:Q:Q:queen:d1,,d8 eagle:E:FyafsF:bird:a1,h1,,a8,h8 rhino:R:WyafsW:rhino:c1,f1,,c8,f8 gnu:G:NC:gnu:b1,g1,,b8,g8 king:K:KisO2:king:e1,,e8


The three new pieces are:

Rhino (Bishop)

The Rhino here isn't the one described on the Piececlopedia Rhino page; rather, it's used as one of the alternate names for the Manticore: it moves one square orthogonally, and then continues outward diagonally like a Bishop.

Gnu (Knight)

The Gnu (or Wildebeest, if you prefer) combines the abilities of the Knight and Camel; it can make a (1,2) jump or a (1,3) jump in any direction.

Eagle (Rook)

The Eagle (an alternate name for the Griffin) moves one space diagonally, and then may continue outward like a Rook.


Other than the replacement of pieces described above, all standard rules of Chess are observed.


The three "replacement" pieces are as close to the originals as I could find, keeping with the idea of using established pieces with animal names.

While the Gnu is clearly more powerful than the Knight, the Rhino and Eagle are "crooked sliders" that mainly give different dynamics to similar moves. While they can reach more spaces than the pieces they replace, they also have asymmetrical paths; it's quite possible for them to move into spaces that they have a hard time getting out of.

Of course, if you want to experiment with the all-animal setup (on the green board above) by actually using a Royal Lion instead of King, Squirrel instead of Pawn, and something else (probably Amazon or Sissa) instead of Queen, go right ahead. I'd like to know how that works out.

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 Bob Greenwade.

Last revised by Bob Greenwade.

Web page created: 2023-06-10. Web page last updated: 2023-08-13´╗┐