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

This page is written by the game's inventor, Robert Price.

The Fellowship of the Ring

"The Enemy still lacks one thing to give him strength and knowledge to beat down all resistance, break the last defences, and cover all the lands in a second darkness. He lacks the One Ring." -- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

The idea for this variant took shape as I was viewing the Fellowship of the Ring film. I imagined Frodo Baggins as a goodly white pawn, bearing an artifact across the board -- an artifact originally hidden, but which wants to be found by evil, and which will be located by the evil army through torture. Frodo needs the protection of his fellow chessmen as he bears the ring to the fires of the eighth rank. So seductive is the power of this artifact that it may corrupt those who wear it, and no one will part with it willingly.

I wanted the game to be asymmetrical. One of White's goals is to escort the Ring across the board to its destruction, while Black can gain an advantage by intercepting it. Although gameplay is asymmetrical, the starting armies are identical.

The Rules

The starting position is as in FIDE Chess, and the rules of FIDE Chess apply, with the following additions:

The Asymmetry

Advantages for White include: Advantages for Black include: White may have to spread its resources a little thin or break off an otherwise flawless attack to prevent the Ring from reaching the hands of the enemy. In a playtesting session, Zillions (3-5 seconds per move, on machines ranging from a PentiumIII/450 to an Athlon/1200) played sixty games against itself. Of these, White won 25, Black won 33, and there were 2 draws by repetition (both after fewer than ten moves). This suggests that Black may have the upper hand, but just barely.


See the power of the Ring at work in these puzzles, generated and analyzed with the help of Zillions.

Play on Zillions!

Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien
Invented by Robert Price

Written by Robert Price.
WWW page created: February 17, 2002. ´╗┐