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The Chess Variant Pages


Courier Chess is a 12x8 board variant of chess probably created in the 12th century, Germany.

The game would have survived until the beginning of the 19th century in Germany and some neighbouring countries.

Some say Courier Chess created the modern bishop moves: unlimited diagonals. Before this the so called Medieval Bishop (Archer in Courier chess) was moving like an Alfil (Elephant): two squares diagonally, leaping the first square.


Jocly Courier Chess cheat sheet


White and black pieces for 2D and 3D versions (from left to right):

There might be expert discussions about the Courier Chess rules and we are open to players feedback. For a start we chose to implement the Wikipedia version of the rules.

The following text is extracted from Wikipedia, under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. For more details and references, please access the original article.

Courier Chess (or the Courier Game) is a strategy board game in the chess family. The original form probably originated in the 12th century and is known to have been played for at least six hundred years. The game was subsequently replaced by a more modern form. It pioneered the modern chess bishop (called the "courier"), and probably played a part in evolving modern chess out of Medieval Chess.

Initial setup

Courier Chess, position after obligatory starting moves

Courier Chess is played on a board of eight ranks by twelve files. Literary and artistic evidence indicate that the board was checkered from the beginning, but that there was no consistency as to which squares were dark. The more frequent practice seems to be that the square at each player's lower-right is white.

The winning objective is the same as modern chess – to checkmate the enemy king. The pieces are as follows: