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This page is written by the game's inventor, Gary Gifford.

Gryphon Aanca Chess

by Gary K. Gifford Gryphon Aanca Chess is a 12 x 12 variant which was in part inspired by a backward step from Tripunch. It also had piece creation ideas which came to me after reading through Jean Louis Cazaux's piece descriptions. The notes section contains details. Partial view of the 12 x 12 board. The Black setup is the same - but on ranks 10, 11, and 12 (with Black pawns on rank 10). A link to the pre-set is: /play/pbm/play.php?game%3DGryphon+Aanca+Chess%26settings%3D3gkg This setup is very close to the preliminary (beta) pre-set. A Jean Louis Cazaux's piece set (my original working set) is shown in the notes section.


As in the figure... but on a 12 x 12 board and with a mirror image for black.*

*It is possible to have different setups for White and black, as follows:

The starting positions can be similar to as seen in the figure, but with 1 or both Retnuhs (above shown at e1 / h1 for White) switched in position with Royal Aides (above shown at d2 / e2 / h2 / i2 for White).  Black can choose an independent setup (i.e. he need not mimic White's pattern in regard to Retnuhs and Royal Aides.)

This flexible setup aspect of the game is similar to a piece repositioning allowed in Korean Chess.

Note: The setup must be made at the beginning of the game, prior to the first move.  It is only then that the players can switch positions of 1 or both Retnuhs with Royal Aides .


Note: Since making this game it has come to my attention that some of the pieces have several names. David Paulowich has pointed out many naming convention issues, such as the Retnuh, which I created, is now known to have existed in 1999.  See Notes for additional information.

Pawns - As in Fide Chess except. a) A pawn on a player's third rank can move 1, 2, or 3 spaces straight. (b) a pawn on a player's 4th rank can move 1 or 2 spaces straight.  There is a pawn en passant option which applies to pawns which move 2 or 3 spaces (providing that if they moved either 1 or 2 spaces they could have been captured by a pawn.  Pawns promote to any piece that exists at beginning of game - except King.
IMPORTANT: Pawns promote on file 11 for White, on File 2 for Black.

Falcon (aka Hawker, Y-rider): (See Images c2 / j2) Moves one leg of Y - Diagonally forward as a Bishop or straight backward as a  Rook.

Noclaf: (See Images f2 / g2) Move diagonally forward as a Bishop, or backward as a Knight to one of four squares.

Aanca (aka Elephant Bird, Archdeacon): (see Images c1 / j1) Move orthogonally 1 space, then optionally moves as a Bishop. 

Gryphon (aka Griffin): (See Images a1 / l1) Move diagonally 1 space, then optionally as a Rook.  An exception to this is allowed for castling.

Hunter (aka Grey Whale, Multi-General [Suisho]): (See Images b2 / k2) Moves one leg of upside-down Y pattern: Straight ahead as a Rook, or diagonally backward as a Bishop.

Retnuh (aka Firehorse): (See Images e1 / h1) Moves straight ahead as a Rook, or  backward as a Knight to one of four squares.

IMPORTANT: At the beginning of the game, prior to the first move, players can switch positions of 1 or both Retnuhs with Royal Aides.  This is similar to a pre-game switch allowed in Korean Chess.  It does not count as a move.

Royal Aide (aka Dosho, or Copper General): (See Images d2 / e2 / h2 / i2 ) Moves and captures 1 square ahead straight or 1 square ahead diagonally. Instead of one of the three forward possibilities, it can move and/or capture 1 space straight back. 

Note: In my Jean Louis Casaux based set the helmet triangles point in the direction of the 3 possible forward movements. The goatee is a reminder of the 1 backward possibility. 

King, Queen, Knight, Rook, and Bishop.  As in Chess - but see rules affecting castling.  In this game Rooks are not involved in castling; but Gryphons are.


Similar to chess, but with new pieces and initial multiple movement.

1. MOVEMENT - On each of the first five moves of the game, a player can move as follows, providing he does not cross his 6th rank:
(a) move a combination of up to five different pawns and/or pieces
(b) if he (or she) desires to move a pawn or piece beyond their 6th rank they can... however, they can move that pawn or piece only.

2. CASTLING - is not allowed through a check.  King and associated Gryphon (not rook) must not have moved prior to castling.  To Castle: Move the King 2, 3, or 4 spaces toward the associated Gryphon; and move the Gryphon adjacent to the King, but toward the center of the board.

Clarifications and updates to the rules will be added as needed.

Win by checkmating your opponent or forcing a resignation.


It was a going back to the beginnings of Ralph Betza's Tripunch that introduced me to the Gryphon and Aanca. The moves of which are described in these rules. Also Ralph Betza has written about them (see links in the rules to Tripunch chess). A second source of inspiration resulted from reading descriptions in Jean Louis Cazaux's piece graphics page. And it was Cazaux's graphics (with a few modifications for some pieces) that gave me my working set, shown below. The above pieces are from Jean Louis Casaux pieces file, with exception of Noclaf, Retnuh, Royal Aide, and Pawns. However, for image consistency, these 4 pieces were edited from those of Mr. Casaux set of piece graphics. (Also see Note 2 in the Notes Section regarding the Aanca) While reading about the "Hunter" and the "Falcon" [as defined by Jean Louis Cazaux] I thought of similar pieces that move backwards as a Knights to 1 of four spaces. Then I made two such pieces (the Retnuh and the Noclaf)... I am not aware of such pieces already in existence, but if it turns out that there are I will rename the pieces in this game and give appropriate credit (note 5). In addition, I based the Royal Aide on the "Sergeant" as described by Jean Louis Casaux; however, I allow a backward move and capture (So the Royal Aide is like a Gold General in Shogi, less the left and right orthogonal movements (see Note 3 for update). To my knowledge, the following pieces were new; but should it turn out they already exist I will add comments accordingly. Noclaf [Update 10/07/2012] - - from Christine Bagley-Jones' comment I see that, "Ralph Betza's army 'Forward Fide's' has 'Bishight', moves forward as Bishop or backward as Knight, and 'Knishop', moves forward as Knight or backward as Bishop. So the Noclaf is a Bishight... accredited to Ralph Betza. Retnuh, Royal Aide Update - Royal Aide is not new - it is a "Copper General"; Retnuh is not new - it is the same as a Firehorse. See notes. NOTE 2 - Jean Louis Casaux did not have a Aanca image. The movement description for his "Duke" was very close - so I have used that image for now. I will gladly change it. At the moment I do not know what a Aanca is suppose to look like. Update: Aanca is another Gryphon. Charles Gilman uses the name Archdeacon' for the 'Aanca' piece; and it is,indeed a good name. Aanca was mentioned in Spanish text in the year 1283. In the initial preset I used a Tiger Head to represent the Aanca beast; but later used an Aanca that was designed by Jeremy Good. In the first graphic I show a newly designed Aanca and Gryphon [of my own designs]. 5-10-07: At the site: we can read about Alfonso X's Grant Acedrex Le "Grant Acedrex" d'Alphonse X de Castille (about the great game, i.e., what was written about it in 1283. We can find there that the Aanca was known as an Elephant Bird. Note 3 4-26-07 Piece Information Update from David Paulowich: "The Grey Whale in Whale Shogi moves exactly like a Hunter. The Goose in Tori Shogi leaps two squares along a Falcon path. This game has several other 'Y-shape movers'. In DAI SHOGI the Dosho (Copper General) moves exactly like a Royal Aide. The Keigei (Whale) is a Hunter, plus full vertical Rook movement. The Hakku (White Horse) is a Falcon, plus full vertical Rook movement." 5-10-07: The Hunter is also a Multi-General (Suisho) in Tenjiku Shogi. Note 4: 5/5/07: The Falcon used here, as described by Jean Louis Casaux, is the same as the Hawker used in Charles Gilman's Nimrod Chess. 5/10/07: Falcon is also the same as Jeff 'Cavebear' Stroud's Y-Rider [see his ABC Chess] Note 5: 5/5/07: In making a preset for this game I located pieces as follows: Upright Rook combined with Upside down Knight; Upright Bishop combined with Upside down Knight. So perhaps Retnuh and Noclaf have previously been thought of? Or, perhaps those piece images were intended to include complete Rook movement in the case of the Retnuh and complete Bishop movement in the case of the Noclaf? 5-10-07: Adrian King made a Firehorse piece in 1999 (see his his Typhoon game) Firehorse and Retnuh move the same. Note 6: 5/10/07: I imagine that most pieces in this (and many other modern CVs] can be found in Tai Kyoku Shogi. That ancient game uses a 36 X 36 board and has 11 ranks dedicated to each player's starting position. There are 402 pieces for each player(804 pieces!); and 300 different piece moves. Note 7: A thanks to Jeremy Good and Antoine Fourriere for adding my new piece graphics and again to Antoine for making them "flippable." Note 8: The 3-space pawn move rules was adopted on July 5th 2007. It was prompted by a comment from Jeremy Good. Note 9: The 5 turn/5 move rule was adopted on July 5th 2007. This rule was added due to piece density and mobility issues. I began thinking about such a rule after discussing similar rules for other games with Sam Trenholme.

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By Gary K. Gifford.
Web page created: 2007-04-22. Web page last updated: 2007-04-22