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Viking Chess Set. Game board and pieces in search of rules. (Cells: 37) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Ireland wrote on 2022-04-24 UTC


Pim Hovenga wrote on 2021-02-07 UTC

Came across this intriguing variant. Since there's just a very slim chance I'll run in to one in real life I thought I'd make my own. Just a scrap strip of pine of 1x1cm for the pieces and some chiseling and knife work. Darkened half of the pieces with a paint stripper and gave all of them a coat of boiled linseed oil. For the board a piece of 3mil plywood would do for now, burnt the lines with a soldering iron. Maybe a proper wooden try in the future. Got a bit carried away with a box for the pieces. Now get me someone to play it with . . .

Pictures here:

Michael Ireland wrote on 2020-11-29 UTCGood ★★★★

Thank you for pointing that out. I have now reviewed Pritchard's encyclopedia myself and agree there is a resemblance to Jabberwocky chess, but with fewer circles and no Queen (the King becoming the most powerful moving piece). I think we are getting closer to the origin story here of this board.

Arne Basse, from what I understand was a furniture designer, not known for chess boards. But he or whoever came up with this game could have been influenced by Parton. The timing would have been right as the board was produced in 1966. I wish there was a way to find out more about whether there is an archive of his designs somewhere, presumably in Denmark.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2020-11-28 UTC

Very interesting. I see no mention of it in Pritchard's Encyclopedias. It has nothing to do with Byzantine chess which was played on the spaces, not on the intersections. The closest similar game I know is Circum Morum or Jabberwocky chess invented by V.R.Parton in 1961. But this one was more complex with 5 concentric circles and 61 positions. Maybe your game has been inspired by Parton's one.

Michael Ireland wrote on 2020-11-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
New information on this thread: Another copy of this chess set has been found in an online posting on Board Game Geek!  Follow this link and scroll down to see the photo and comments:

Sadly this set is also missing the rules!  But I am attaching my most recent ruminations on what the rules were when I played the game in my youth :-)

Viking Chess Rules as best as they can be remembered – November 28, 2020

The goal of the game is to checkmate your opponent's king as in regular chess. 

Board: The board is made up of "rings" linking "crosses" (the spaces).  There is a centre space, the “star”, in the middle. 

Pieces: There is a king, 2 rooks (flat tops), 2 bishops (spikes) and 4 pawns per side.

All pieces start off the board.  

On their first turn (white goes first) each player places their king anywhere on the board on any space except the centre space (I believe that no piece could start on the centre star because it gives too much of an advantage to start there - but I am not 100% certain of the rule). 
In the second and subsequent turns, each player can either move an existing piece on the board or bring another piece onto the board as per turn 1.  

Different pieces move differently as follows:
-	Pawn moves one space in any direction 
-	Rook moves up to 3 spaces up or down, or one space to the side
-	Bishop moves up to 3 spaces around one of the rings, or one space up or down. 
-	King can move up to 3 spaces in any direction up or down

Once placed on the board a piece can enter the centre space or through it.

A player takes an opponent's piece by moving a piece into their opponent's piece's space.  Once a piece is removed from the board it cannot return.  I do not believe there is a rule to promote a pawn to a Bishop or Rook.

The King is the strongest piece on the board combining both the Rook's move (3 up or down) and the Bishop's move (3 around a ring in either direction). 

If the King is taken/mated the game is over.

Michael Ireland wrote on 2019-01-31 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Hello Anthony

Thank you for replying after all these years that the post has been up.  I saw your post, I do care, and I am replying here.  I am the Michael Ireland who wrote the original post.  I have been trying to reply through my account but it has gone dormant and I haven't been able to successfully logon, so am replying anonymously.  I have not found my answers yet but I am pretty sure this is NOT byzantine chess.

I will do my best to answer your questions.

It has been a long time since I played the game but this is how I think it worked. The board is made up of "rings" and "crosses" (spaces).  There is a centre star (space) in the middle which acts like a cross in all regards but a piece cannot start there. Each player starts with all of their pieces off the board.  There is a king, 2 rooks (flat tops), 2 bishops (spikes) and 4 pawns per side. On their first turn (white goes first) each player places their king anywhere on the board on any "cross" but not on the centre star (I believe that no piece could start on the centre star because it gives too much of an advantage to start there - but I am not 100% certain of the rule).  Then in the second and subsequent turns, each player can either move an existing piece or bring another piece onto the board as per turn 1.  The goal of the game is to checkmate your opponent's king as in regular chess.  Different pieces move differently.  A pawn or the king can move from one cross to another cross in any direction.  A rook moves up to 3 crosses up or down, or one cross to the side.  A bishop moves up to 3 crosses around one of the rings, or one cross up or down.  Any piece once on the board can enter the star in the middle.  A rook can move through it.  A player can take an opponent's piece by moving a piece into their opponent's piece's cross.  Once a piece is removed from the board it is gone.  I don't belive there is a special move in this game that makes a pawn become another piece like a rook or bishop.

That is it, essentially, but again, I am putting this together from a hazy recollection having not played for 40 years or so.

I hope this answers your questions but I want to say that your query made me go through the process of writing things down here and in a way, helped me work back to an approximation of how the game worked (with a few pieces of the puzzle still needed).  I think I could try playing it again and seeing how things worked.

I have not given up hoping someone will see this and recognize the game and the rules, but talking about it is always good.  So thank you again for replying!

Michael Ireland

PS: I did come up with one tantalizing lead about the manufacturer Arne Basse and this particular chess variant set.  Online I found a photo of a regular chess set that clearly was made by the same manufacturer because the board had the same leather surface (but with a regular chess grid) and the carved wooden pieces were the same except there were queens and knights. No other information was attached to the photo sadly but it was an interesting find.

Anthony Viens wrote on 2018-11-11 UTC

It's been over a decade, I doubt anyone else even cares....
But I find this story strangely compelling. 

Michael (OP)-- just in case you see this--
do you remember ANYTHING else?  Like:

A fuzzy memory of what even one piece's movement was like?

Are you reasonably sure the piece set is complete?

Do you remember anything about it being played, not like the rules precisely, but like you remember the big piece's capture was the goal?  (Seems likely, just based on the fact that your parent's called it viking chess, but any info would be great.)

Do you remember pieces moving across the center?  Just remebering they could would tell us a lot.  There are only so many simple ways to use the center.

A vague memory of the pieces being played on the intercections of the lines/or in the squares?

It sure looks to me like it was played on the line intersections, not the spaces.
Just knowing THAT (intersections or spaces) would be a huge step forward.
With just a little more information we could probably reconstruct rules that were very close to the original.  There are only so many logically simple rules for chess on a round board.

You probably will never see this.....I hope you figured something out.  I have many happy memories of playing boardgames with my dad (especially Stratego) and a game from your parents being lost seems really sad.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2006-10-23 UTC
There were some vikings who served in the Byzantine army too.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2006-10-23 UTC
I don't know much about Byzantine Chess. Was it perhaps the main variant in Byzantium during its heyday? I was thinking there might be more than one variant of Byzantine Chess that might not be covered by our entry here, but I have no idea!

Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on 2006-10-23 UTC

Yes UGLi, well noted. The extreme outer part could be a place for the missing '4th' position, but this still doesn't work, each quarter of this board has 3 spaces within it, the Byzantine board has 4, so this cannot be a Byzantine board.

* 3 spaces on one file or row or whatever call it. It has 9 spaces in total within a quarter, while Byzantine has 16.

The centre also is different, being more a 'point' than a 'circle'.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2006-10-23 UTC
Michael, I just want to note that the Byzantine Chess on this site has four spaces (concentric circles), not three like yours. I'd like to know more about what you recover, if you will share it for us here. If you ever find someone who knows more precisely where and when this was made and how many exist, please let us know that too.

Michael Ireland wrote on 2006-10-22 UTC

Thank you!

You guys are the greatest. I can now recover the lost rule set for this cicular chess game and start playing again.


Kee wrote on 2006-10-17 UTC

Thats not a viking chess board that is a Byzantine chess board.

See here --

to see viking chess see here --

John Ayer wrote on 2005-09-14 UTC
It seems we must go beyond the resources of this website. You might approach, the Abstract Strategy Games website; they have recovered the rules for some other obscure games. I am doing some searching of boardgames sites, but have not found it so far.

Michael Ireland wrote on 2005-09-13 UTC
I don't know the name of the person who made the set. I tried to track down the manufacturer but had no luck. I am not certain about the names of the pieces. I last played the game (before the rule book was lost) about 20 years ago so I am just guessing at the names. I am just hoping someone will see the board configuration and be able to tell me how the game is played or, better, give me a copy of the rules book.

Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on 2005-09-11 UTC
what does the person who made the game have to say about it?
how do you know that the pieces you call 'bishops' are bishops?

Anonymous wrote on 2005-09-10 UTC
How to play viking chess. Rooks move along strait lines. And bishops move along curves or to a nebering space. The king may move to any space that is nebering. Pawns move inward premoteingwhen thay reach the center. The spaces are the stars but i cannot decide how you win. p.s sorry about the spelling mistakes i hope you can decode my message and that it helps you play .

Anonymous wrote on 2005-09-03 UTC
How you might be able to play bishops go diaganoaly inculding curves The rook goes in stratit lines and queens combine rook and bishop moves. Pawns go forward incldeing curves and kings move across any line p.s I think the stars are the spaces.

Michael Ireland wrote on 2005-05-18 UTC
Unfortunately I can't offer any more information on the name than what I was told by my parents. They referred to it as 'viking chess'. I agree, there are too many variations of the game with that name. I am stuck. I am hoping someone will recognize the board configuration and tell me what the name is and what the rules are.

Daniel Roth wrote on 2005-05-18 UTC
Can you deliver the original name of this chess game if possible.
There are too many 'Viking Chesses' around.

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