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This page is written by the game's inventor, Ken Franklin.

Leap Chess

In Celebration of the Current Millenium's First Leap Year

By Ken Franklin


Leap Chess is a Chess variant with some aspects of Checkers -- pieces leap to capture (although capture is by replacement), captures are mandatory, and stalemate is a loss. It is played on a board of 44 squares, and is an entry into the Contest to Design a Chess Variant on 44 Squares.

The sides are Red and Black because of the similarities with Checkers. However, all the Orthodox Chess pieces are included (with the Bishops becoming Alfils, the Rooks becoming Dabbabahs and the Queens Sails), so is castling (with the Knights in the 44-square board variants) and 3rd row en-passant moves. Pawn promotion remains within the back rows only.

Board and Setup

Leap Chess is played on a 6 by 8 board with the corners removed.

8      | n |:q:| k |:n:|
7  | r |:p:| b |:b:| p |:r:|
6  |:p:| p |:p:| p |:p:| p |
5  |   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
4  |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |
3  | P |:P:| P |:P:| P |:P:|
2  |:R:| P |:B:| B |:P:| R |
1      |:N:| Q |:K:| N |
     a   b   c   d   e   f
  • Pawns: b2 e2 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3
  • Knights: b1 e1
  • Alfils: c2 d2
  • Dabbabahs: a2 f2
  • Sails: c1
  • King: d1
  • Pawns: b7 e7 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6
  • Knights: b8 e8
  • Alfils: c7 d7
  • Dabbabahs: a7 g7
  • Sails: c8
  • King: d8


Leap Chess is conducted by rules of Orthodox Chess, except that:

The Moves of the Pieces

Kings move and capture as in Orthodox Chess, except castling is done with the Knights. When castling king-side, the King and the Knight essentially swap places, when castling queen-side, the King moves to the c file and the Knight leaps to the King's starting square.

Pawns move, capture and promote as in Orthodox Chess, except that Pawns that start the game on the 3rd rank have no initial double move. Pawns promote on the back row squares only (ranks 8 for Red and 1 for Black).

Knights move and capture as in Orthodox Chess.

Alfils leap two squares diagonally (possibly passing over an occupied square).

Dabbabahs leap two squares left, right, up or down (possibly passing over an occupied square).

Sails move either like an Alfil or a Dabbabah, making them equivalent to an Alibaba.


All versions of this game can be played on a 64-square board with normal castling and Pawn moves.

Multiple Captures

Played like in the rules above, but if a piece makes a capture, and then has other captures available, it must continue capturing. There is no requirement to choose a capture that leads to the maximum possible number of captures as there are in some forms of Checkers.

Captures Optional

Played like in the rules above, but captures are not forced.

Computer Play

There is an implementation of Leap Chess for Zillions of Games. You can download it here:

Written by Ken Franklin, converted to HTML by Peter Aronson.
WWW page created: January 21st, 2004.