The Chess Variant Pages

Check out Marseillais Chess, our featured variant for February, 2024.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Pangus Ho.


Inspired by Shogi and Pal Benko's Pre-Chess, iChess is an attempt to improve Chess in four different ways:

  1. eliminating the irregularities in the rules, such as castling as en passant,
  2. reducing the importance of memorized opening and ending moves,
  3. reducing the percentage of drawn games,
  4. increasing the number of possible moves in each turn, making the game harder to solve by computers.

To achieve these goals, iChess combines the elements of Chess and Shogi, and allows the players to select the initial position of the pieces.


Like Chess, iChess is played on a checkered 8x8 board. Each player begins with one King, one Queen, two Rooks, two Bishops, two Knights, and eight Pawns. Only the Pawns are initially on the board.

Initial position of the game

The game begins with the deployment phase. The first player picks a piece other than the King and drop it onto the board, and then the second player does the same. The players continue in this way until all the pieces are placed. The Kings are dropped last (on the eighth move), after which the pieces may start moving.


The iChess pieces are similar to Shogi pieces in shape, but use abstract motifs that are designed to be culturally neutral.

The Pawn moves and captures one square forward like the Shogi pawn. It can promote to a Ferz upon reaching the last four ranks of the board. Promotion is optional unless the Pawn reaches the last rank.
The Ferz is a promoted Pawn. It moves one square diagonally like the Shatranj Ferz.
The Knight moves like the Chess Knight.
The Bishop moves like the Chess Bishop.
The Rook moves like the Chess Rook.
The Queen moves like the Chess Queen.
The King moves like the Chess King, minus castling. It may not move into check. A player loses when the King is checkmated.


After the initial deployment phase (described above), the rules of iChess are mostly the same as Shogi, but there are some differences.

The iChess board is divided into two parts. A player's drop zone consists of the the four ranks closest to the player. Drops, including the initial drops in the deployment phase, are restricted within the drop zone. The other half of the board (the opponent's drop zone) is the player's promotion zone. Pawns may promote only when they reach the promotion zone.

In each turn, a player may either move a piece on the board or drop a captured piece onto a vacant square. As in Shogi, a Pawn may not be dropped into a file that already contains another friendly Pawn, but unlike Shogi, the Pawn drop may deliver a checkmate. When a Ferz is captured, it is demoted back to a Pawn.


If you have Zillions of Games installed on your computer, you can play this game. Click here to download iChess.

If you want to play using a physical set, you can use a standard 8x8 chessboard with Shogi pieces. The suggested piece mapping is:

Shogi iChess
Pawn (Tokin) Pawn (Ferz)
Knight Knight
Lance Rook
Silver General Bishop
Gold General Queen
King King

Sample Game

The notation below follows the standard algebraic notation. The equal sign (=) indicates a drop or a promotion. For example, R=a1 means Rook is dropped on a1, and Pc5=F means Pawn moves to c5 and promotes to Ferz.

  1. R=a1 R=h8
  2. B=f4 R=f8
  3. R=g1 Q=a8
  4. Q=f2 B=d5
  5. B=e4 N=g8
  6. N=g4 N=g5
  7. N=c4 B=c5
  8. K=h1 K=a7 end of deployment phase
  9. BxNg5 PxBg5
  10. BxBd5 PxBd5
  11. Nh2 Ne7
  12. N=e4 Rhg8
  13. B=f4 Pd4
  14. PxPd4 BxPd4
  15. P=d3 Pc5
  16. PxBd4 PxNc4
  17. PxPc4 Nf5
  18. Pc5=F N=h7
  19. FxPb6+ KxFb6
  20. Rad1 Rd8
  21. Qc2 Rc8
  22. Qd3 B=e7
  23. Ra1 Qb7
  24. NxPf6 NxPg3+
  25. RxNg3 BxNf6
  26. B=e4 Qd7
  27. BxNh7 QxPd4
  28. QxQd4+ BxQd4
  29. Q=b4+ N=b5
  30. BxRg8 RxBg8
  31. N=a4+ Ka7
  32. QxNb5 BxRa1
  33. Qb6+ Ka8
  34. QxPa6+ R=a7
  35. Nb6#

Final position of the game


Please contact Pangus Ho at hzb_pangus at for any comments or suggestions.

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 Pangus Ho.
Web page created: 2014-06-19. Web page last updated: 2014-06-19