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This page is written by the game's inventor, Fergus Duniho. This game is a favorite of its inventor.

Grand Cavalier Chess

Created by Fergus Duniho in 1999, Grand Cavalier Chess is a decimal variation of his earlier game Cavalier Chess. It is played with the regular Cavalier Chess pieces plus two Cannons for each side. It draws inspiration from Grand Chess, Chinese Chess, and Xhess. As in Cavalier Chess, most of the pieces have some kind of Knight move. Only Queens and Cannons lack any kind of Knight move.


Note: The three colors used for the board are there merely to aid in the visualization of Nightrider moves. If you remember that any Nightrider path will alternate only between two colors, it is a bit easier to tell where a Nightrider can move with only a glance. The three colors have no bearing on the rules, and you may, if you wish, play Grand Cavalier Chess on an ordinary checkered board.


The Eques Rex moves like a Knight or a King. It may move to any adjacent square like a King or jump like a Knight. Like the King in Chess, it may not move into check, because it is the object of the game to checkmate this piece. Unlike the King in Chess, the Eques Rex may not castle.

The Queen is unchanged from Chess. She can move across a straight line any number of spaces in any direction.

The Marshall combines the moves of Rook and Knight. It can move across a straight line any number of spaces in any orthogonal direction, or it may jump like a Knight. Unlike the Rook in Chess, it may not castle.

The Paladin combines the moves of Bishop and Knight. It can move across a straight line any number of spaces in any diagonal direction, or it may jump like a Knight.

The Cannon moves like a Rook but must jump an intervening piece to make a capture. It moves exactly the same as the Cannon in Chinese Chess, from which it is borrowed.

The Nightrider has an extended Knight's move. It can make any number of Knight moves in the same direction, so long as each landing square is unoccupied.

The Cavalier moves like a Knight but cannot jump pieces. It moves one square orthogonally, followed by a diagonal move in the same direction. A Cavalier's move is blocked if a piece occupies a square orthogonally adjacent to it. The Cavalier moves just like the Knight in Chinese Chess except with regard to moving to the last rank. When it reaches the last rank, it promotes to any previously captured piece (not including other Cavaliers) belonging to the same player. This does not include pieces previously returned to the board through other promotions. So no player can have multiple Queens, for example. The general principle is that you don't need any extra pieces to play Grand Cavalier Chess beyond the pieces in the opening array. When there are no captured pieces a Cavalier may promote to, it may not move to the last rank, though it may still check the Eques Rex on the last rank.


The object of Grand Cavalier Chess is to checkmate the enemy Eques Rex. With a few exceptions, it is played just like Chess. Most notably, it uses a different selection of pieces on a larger board. Since there are no Pawns, Kings, or Rooks, double moves, en passant, and castling are all absent from this game. Partially borrowing from Grand Chess, a Cavalier who reaches the last rank may promote only to a piece that has already been captured. When no captured pieces are available, a Cavalier may not move to the last rank. The pieces, the board, and the initial setup are described below:

Computer Play

You can play this game by online correspondence using Game Courier. Its Grand Cavalier Chess preset is programmed to enforce the rules.

If you have Zillions of Games, you can play Grand Cavalier Chess against your computer. You may download the Zillions file for it here:


The three-color board of Grand Cavalier Chess may be made from lacing ribbons together, as described in my Ribbon Boards crafts article. It can also be made from laying down sections of floppyboard, as described in my Chess Variant Construction Set crafts article. The board displayed at the top of this page was made from sections of laminated poster board tiles.

For pieces, you may use a Chess set plus spools for the Cannons. Use the King for the Eques Rex, Rooks for the Marshalls, Bishops for the Paladins, Knights for the Nightriders, and Pawns for the Cavaliers. If you want something truer to the game, get ahold of a couple sets that include the pieces for Grand Chess, get some Cannons from a figurine Chinese Chess set, and get four Chess sets of a smaller size and different style to use its Knights for the Cavaliers.

Written by Fergus Duniho
WWW Page Created: Sun Oct 17, 1999.