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Chancellor Chess (Book)

In the late 1800's, Ben R. Foster created a chess variant called Chancellor Chess, and also published a book on it. This book was published (as near as we can tell) in 1889, and so, should, by current copyright law, be in the public domain. If anyone knows otherwise, please contact us.

We publish here, the first part of this book, which gives some chess history, a defense of Chancellor Chess, and a description of the game. The rest of the book illustrates various Chancellor Chess problems, and commentary on the game. We may, in the future, publish some of these problems and/or comments.


We make no apology for appearing before the public in the capacity of an author. We believe and know that we are advancing the cause of chess in the introduction of a new piece, which we are pleased to call the Chancellor, and in the enlargement of the board to eighty- one squares. Very many at first ridiculed the innovation, but as soon. as they examined into the merits of the Chancellor and his new board, they at once, like sensible folk, became his warm supporters. In the following pages we will try to give as briefly as possible our ideas on the subject of "Chancellor Chess," its history, games, ending positions, problems, etc., hoping that we may do a little good for "the game of kings and king of games."



As every chess player well knows, chess is as old as India, having originated in that distant land before the hanging gardens of Babylon were designed or the towers of Persepolis erected. At first pieces in the shape of animals, but afterwards changed to the modern figures were used, some of them had different movements from those at the present time, and boards of various shapes and sizes were adopted. The game was played under varying laws until the modern game resulted, considered by the majority of chess players as its best development. But some thinking spirits weary of the old and monotonous debuts and not believing that the game has reached perfection, have originated a new piece called the Chancellor, which shall have the moves of the rook and knight and increased the chess board to eighty-one squares, nine on a side, for the purpose of giving his majesty more room for exercising his power.

There are four instances where the Chancellor under different names was used on different boards.

Carrera in 1617 inserted two new pieces, a Campione, having the moves of rook and knight, to be placed between the king's rook and king's knight and a centaur, combining the moves of bishop and knight placed between the queen's rook and queen's knight on a board 10x8 squares,

The Duke of Rutland in 1747 used a board 10x14 squares and introduced two new pieces, a Concubine. possessing the power of rook and knight and a crowned rook with the moves of king and rook.

L. Tressan, of Leipsic, in 1840 played on a board 11x11 with three additional pieces, an adjutant moving' as bishop and knight combined, a general with the move of the queen and knight united, and a Marshal having the moves of rook and knight.

And several years ago Mr. H. E. Bird, the veteran chess master, suggested a board 10x8 and two new pieces, a Guard (R and Kt) and equerry (B. and Kt., the former placed by the side of the queen and the latter by the side of the king, all other pieces remaining in the same positions.

The Campione, the Concubine, the Marshal and the Guard were old names for the Chancellor.

Our Claims to Originality.

In view of the above remarks, the wiseacres tell us that the idea of the Chancellor is as old as the hills. Well, what is not old? The ancient sage says. ''There is nothing new under the sun." Steam was old, gravity was old, electricity was old. and printing was old when Watt, and Newton, and Morse, and Gutenberg applied them respectively for the benefit of mankind. One can easily conceal his weakness and ignorance under the cover of "History tells us," and attempt to chuckle at and condemn any innovation that will improve the world. Such a person is not productive of good, and is only a worthless appendage to society. But the man who has the courage, and ingenuity, and originality to combine old ideas and put them into a tangible form which can be utilized; he is the one who gains reputation and ameliorates mankind.

In presenting, therefore, this seemingly ugly but very powerful chess piece before the public, we do not claim that the idea is new, but hold that it does not matter who first thought of it, which had probably been in the minds of chess players ever since the incipiency of the game. The construction of the piece, the putting of it into type, the making use of it in problems, the playing of games with it, and the enlargement of the chess-board to eighty-one squares -- each and every one is a claim that entitles us to being the inventor of the Chancellor and Chancellor Chess.

The New Game Described.

The following article together with the problem first appeared in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 12, 1887, and at that time created quite a stir in the chess world. We give it in full. accompanied by the comments of the leading newspapers, chess magazines and chess players. The new game of chess is clearly described therein and needs no supplementary remarks of ours:




(Eighty-one squares.)

In view of the recent and. thorough analyses of the openings in chess, we propose that the chess-board be changed to nine squares on a side, and that a pawn and a piece, called the chancellor, having the power of the rook or the knight, be added to the game.

The board will then have a black square in each corner, and will always be in position for play. The arrangement of the white pieces at the beginning of the game will be in the following order, namely: R, Kt, B, Q, K, C, Kt, B, R, with a pawn in front of each. The R's will be on black squares; the Kt's and B's on opposite colored squares, the Q B being; next to the Q, and the K. Kt next to the C; the Q and C will be on either side of the K, which will be on a black square and be equally removed from the rooks. The black pieces will be directly opposite the white. The chancellor, so called because that magistrate is next to the king in power and importance, can jump like a knight and move like a rook. The same rules will apply to the new game that have been used to govern the old. Castling will be done exactly alike with either rook, the K's rook, however, castling like the Q's rook. The pawns when moved up two squares on either side, will have a rank of squares intervening.

In the now game every player, for a while, will be put on his own resources, and an endless variety of pleasure will be found in discovering the safe lines of play. Of course the present masters will frown it down, because they can not afford to throw aside all their investigations and call them lost -- only apparently lost, however, for their labors have led to this innovation. But there is no doubt that the addition of the chancellor gives symmetry and perfection to the game. The queen has the power of a bishop and a rook, and another piece having the power of a knight and a rook was needed to equalize the force on the king's side. and we have, therefore, at the suggestion of a friend introduced it with the hope that it may be speedily and universally adopted.

And what a glorious field will be opened to problemists! Many a problem theme has had to be necessarily abandoned on account of the narrow limits of the board and on account of its lacking originality. With a new and powerful piece and a larger board, what grand, original combinations will result! We asked Mr. A. H. Robbins, our St. Louis problemist, to construct a problem and use the chancellor. He has done so. We give it in to-day's issue. Those who desire to examine the position should invert a rook and use it for the new piece.

Various forms for the chancellor have been suggested. It may be made to have a rook for the base, and a knight for the top, and the queen changed into a rook crowned with a bishop. Supposing the Q to remain the same, the C could be made similar to it, but have a projection on top.

Some say that the old game is sufficient for the ordinary player. We answer that the same argument can be applied to the harpsichord by those who object to the piano-forte of to-day.

The objection that it will take a longer time to play the game because thirty-six men are used instead of thirty-two, will not stand; for when the queens are exchanged in the early part of the present game, it is prolonged ad infinitum and becomes dull and uninteresting, whereas, if they are retained, it is more lively and usually shorter. Add, therefore, another piece of great power, and still shorter and more sprightly games will be the consequence.

Now, dear chess friends, do not be too prejudiced against this innovation, and condemn it because it is new without examining into its advantages, which we have set forth. Think how much more beautiful and symmetrical and scientific the royal game will appear, how many more mating positions and ingenious problems will be formed, and how infinite will be the combinations. We propose to publish a game of the new kind and show to our readers what we can do with the new piece. Whether or not the fossil chess players will adopt it does not matter, undoubtedly the problem students will at once make use of it; and we predict that ere long every problemist of note will be adding to his list of productions problems having the chancellor.

It is our intention to start a tourney in which the chancellor will have to be used in the construction of all problems entered in it. The full conditions will be shortly announced.

Chess players, composers and solvers interested in our new ideas are requested to communicate with us and make any suggestions they may think proper. Let us have the subject discussed pro and con.




By WM. L. FERRIS, New York City.

Black, three pieces.



White, four pieces.

White to play and mate in two moves.



(First Prize Two-Move Problem.)


By John Keeble, Norwich, England.

Black, eight pieces.


White, eight pieces.

White to play and mate in two moves.



(Second Prize Two-Move Problem.)


By Eugene Woodward, So. Granville, N. Y.

Black, six pieces.



White, seven pieces.

White to play and mate in two moves.



(First Prize Three-Move Problem.)


By L. H. JOKISCH, Centralia, Ill.

Black, one piece.



White, five pieces.

White to play and mate in three moves.


Written by Ben R. Foster. Web page posted by David Howe. Introduction and OCR by David Howe.
WWW page created: 23 Nov 2000. Last modified on: 23 Nov 2000.