The Chess Variant Pages

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This page is written by the game's inventor, Michael Nelson.

Royal Lion Chess

The Royal Lion is hard to checkmate. Many strong pieces are in your army.


First rank pieces from left to right: Marshal, Paladin, Queen, Dragon, Royal Lion, Amazon, Dragon, Queen, Paladin, Marshal.

Second rank pieces from left to right: Rook, Knight, Bishop, Gryphon, Crocodile, Crocodile, Gryphon, Bishop, Knight, Rook.

Third rank: Ten pawns.


Royal Lion: The royal piece of the game. The Royal Lion may move once or twice as an FIDE chess King; or may jump to the second square horizontally, vertically, or diagonally away; or may move as a FIDE Knight. The double king move enables capturing two pieces, capturing a piece on an adjacent square and returning to the starting square, or moving to an empty adjacent square and returning to the starting square (effectively passing a turn--and counting as a recurrence for triple repetition). Note that while the Royal Lion may not move into check, its jumping moves may jump across check.

Knight, Rook, Bishop, and Queen: move as in FIDE chess.

Marshal: moves as a Rook or a Knight.

Paladin: moves as a Bishop or a Knight.

Amazon: moves as a Queen or a Knight.

Gryphon: moves one square diagonally then moves as a Rook away from the starting square.

Crocodile: move one square horizontally or vertically then moves as a Bishop away from the starting square.

Dragon: moves as a Gryphon or a Crocodile.

Pawn: Moves without capturing one square forward. If this square is not attacked by an enemy pawn, the pawn may move an additional square forward. The Pawn captures by moving one square diagonally forward. Note the double step may occur anywhere on the board, and en passant capture is not possible or needed. A pawn that reaches the last rank may promote to any non-Pawn piece the owner has lost.


Victory is by checkmating the enemy Royal Lion. Stalemate, triple repetition and the fifty-move rule are draws as in FIDE Chess. Castling is not allowed. Royal Lion and another piece vs. Royal Lion is not sufficient mating material. At least two other pieces will be required. Two dragons can mate without the help of their own Royal Lion.



Inspired by various games using strong royal pieces, most especially by Fergus Dunilo's royal Queen in Cassia Britannia. The Royal Lion is derived from the Chu Shogi Lion. A strong army is neccesitated by the strong royal piece, so all the Capablanca's Chess pieces are used, and also the very powerful Amazon. The armies are filled out with bent riders: the Gryphon from Grande Acedrex, the Crocodile (its diagonal counterpart), and the awsome Dragon which results from combining them. Zillions rates the Dragon more powerful the the Amazon--with sixteen directions of movement, the Dragon's forking power is insane. Pawns can take the double-step anywhere on the board, including to the promotion square, which helps a pawn survive and reach the promotion square. The double move anywhere strenghthens Pawn structures as well, which is very useful in this game.

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Michael Nelson.

Last revised by Michael Nelson.

Web page created: 2023-06-09. Web page last updated: 2023-08-13