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This page is written by the game's inventor, Ralph Betza.

Pied Color Chess

By Ralph Betza

I dropped my chessboard, and pied the colors!

When I picked it up and looked at it, no longer were the colors of the squares arrayed in smooth alternation, but instead they were all jumbled all over the board. It looked like this:

8 ... *** *** ... ... ... *** ***
7 ... ... *** *** *** ... ... ...
6 *** *** ... ... *** *** ... ...
5 ... *** *** ... *** *** ... ...
4 *** ... *** *** *** *** ... ***
3 *** ... ... ... ... *** ... ***
2 ... ... *** ... *** ... *** ...
1 *** ... *** ... *** ... *** ...

   a   b   c   d   e   f   g   h

Suddenly a mysterious stranger appeared and insisted that I play a game, for what stakes I know not. It was a nightmare, for my pieces other than Pawns would not go where I wanted them to.

The Rook, for example, insisted on changing color at every step of the way, and would only proceed to the square that was nearest the line that a Rook would normally take, or in a Rookish direction, or more or less in a straight line; the Bishop did the same but stayed on its color, the Knight jumped two squares changing color, and the King and Queen followed the rules of the Rook and Bishop combination.

I remember one time I had a Rook on b1, tried to move it North as far as it would go, and it finished on g8 after landing on c2, b3, c4, d5, e6, and f7!

I got a terrible headache, but whether it was caused by the strange moves of the pieces or by the baleful gaze of my opponent, I cannot say. I struggled on trying to draw, but to no avail.

I lost, and my opponent vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving me with a feeling of impending doom.

Please tell me it was only a dream. Such things cannot truly happen, can they?

P.I. Pied Color Chess

In Partial Information Pied Chess, you do not know the color of squares that are not adjacent to your own pieces. A long move in the opening may be a leap into the darkness, when only the moderator knows where you will land.

Periodically Pied

Every so often, the board is newly jumbled. This rule works well with P. I. Pied.

Pied on Demand

A player may skip a move to pie the colors. This may be done even when in check, or even when checkmated. Probably this game should be played as Token Pied on Demand: only one player has the right to pie the colors, and at the start of the game it is Black who has this right. Exercizing the right to pie gives the opponent the right to do so, but only after a delay of one turn.

On Language

I am convinced that I remember reading that manual typesetters used the verb pie to mean jumble, especially to scramble by dropping. I do not remember where I read this. Samuel Clemens? Perry White? The Pied Piper?

Neither my big old dictionary nor my little new one mentions this verb. (A reference to that definition can be found here, however -- Ed.)


In the diagram, a Rook on b1 moving East or West would have its normal move (marked with '-' or green circles).

8 ... *** *** ... ... ... *+* ***
7 ... ... *** *** *** .+. ... ...
6 *** *** ... ... *+* *** ... ...
5 ... *** *** .+. *** *** ... ...
4 *** ... *+* *** *** *** ... ***
3 *** .+. ... ... ... *** ... ***
2 ... ... *+* ... *** ... *** ...
1 *-* .R. *-* .-. *-* .-. *-* .-.

   a   b   c   d   e   f   g   h

Moving North (marked with '+' or red circles), however, it would first go to c2, because that is the only opposite-color square to the North; then it would go to b3 because that is nearest the line that a normal Rook would take. "proceed to the square that was nearest the line that a Rook would normally take, or in a Rookish direction, or more or less in a straight line".

From b3, it would go to c4 and not a4; it has already been to the c-file. After that, the board is set up to force it to g8.

Example 2

In the diagram, a Knight on d4 could leap to any square marked with a '+' or a red circle.

8 ... *** *** ... ... ... *** ***
7 ... ... *** *** *** ... ... ...
6 *** *** .+. .+. *** *** ... ...
5 ... *** *** ... *** *** ... ...
4 *** .+. *** *N* *** *** ... ***
3 *** .+. ... ... ... *** ... ***
2 ... ... *** .+. *** .+. *** ...
1 *** ... *** ... *** ... *** ...

   a   b   c   d   e   f   g   h

Seven squares in total.

World Building

In the example diagram, I colored a number of squares to set up my sample Rook move, and then I flipped a coin for the rest of the board. You will notice that a Rook on h6 would have no legal move, and that a Rook elsewhere could not go to h6.

One might want to use a semi-random way of coloring the squares rather than a truly random one. Adding the rule that "every square must have at least one opposite color square adjacent to it" might be sufficient.

Perhaps one should also require that there be 32 squares of each color. Or perhaps not....


The reason for the Rejection Rule is that randomly coloring the squares might give one player a big advantage.

The Rejection Rule would be that before the start of the game, each player examines the board and has a chance to reject the setup as unfair. This does not work in P.I. Pied Chess, but of course P.I Pied should probably be played as either Periodically Pied.


On the other hand, the fact that a King on h6 has no moves other than to g7 or g5 might be interesting. It is not guaranteed in this game that K+Q versus K is a win, is it?

Cream Pie Chess

This game has no relation to Cream Pie Chess, other than that the use of "Pie" in the name of the game provided inspiration.

There is no link here to Cream Pie Chess because I have not written up that game yet.

Written by Ralph Betza.
WWW page created: February 28th, 2003.