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Seirawan Chess

Seirawan Chess, also known as Sharper Chess, was created in 2007 by GM Yasser Seirawan and Bruce Harper. The motivation behind its creation was that Chess was becoming less challenging and less interesting at the higher levels of play due to being deeply analyzed, and the addition of new pieces would help stem this.


It starts out the same as Chess except that each player also starts with two pieces held in hand, one being the Elephant and the other being the Hawk. These two pieces are initially placed off-board and may be dropped onto the board on a later turn.



The pieces are the same as Chess except for the two new pieces. Like the Queen, each new piece is a compound of two other pieces, capable of moving as either one.


The Elephant can move as a Rook or a Knight. The same piece is also commonly known by the names of Empress, Chancellor, and Marshall.



The Hawk can move as a Bishop or a Knight. The same piece is also commonly known by the names of Princess, Archbishop, and Cardinal.



Seirawan Chess is played just like Chess with the following exceptions:

  1. Each time that a player moves a piece other than a Pawn for the first time, he may immediately on the same turn drop his Hawk or Elephant into the vacated space if it has not yet been dropped onto the board.
  2. When castling, a player may still drop only one piece after the move, though he now has the option of dropping it on the King's vacated space or the Rook's.
  3. In addition to its usual promotion options, a Pawn may also promote to an Elephant or a Hawk when reaching the last rank.

As a consequence of these rules, a player has no more than eight opportunities to drop the extra pieces onto the board. If he fails to make use of these opportunities, the pieces will remain out of play for the rest of the game.

Presumably, a move must already be legal before the drop is made. This makes it impossible for a drop to block a check, since any move that left a King in check before the drop would be illegal. So, a player cannot move a King away from a checking piece and then drop a piece to block a check, and a pinned piece cannot move away and let the dropped piece replace it.


You may be able to find pieces for this game on ebay as Musketeer Chess Variant Kit - Elephant & Hawk - Black & White. One set will include one of each piece in each color for a total of four. The photos below feature pieces owned by the author from two sets. Some other Chess pieces and variant pieces from other kits are in the background.



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.

Author: Fergus Duniho. Inventor: Yasser Seirawan and Bruce Harper.

Last revised by Fergus Duniho.

Web page created: 2023-02-18. Web page last updated: 2023-02-18