Check out Chess with Different Armies, our featured variant for July, 2024.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Jörg Knappen.


This game is dedicated to the professional road bicycle racer Erik Zabel, one of the greatest cycling sprinters ever. Thus, the name is not just an inversion of Schach-Zabel, a mediaeval german word for chess.

I don't know wether this game has been invented and written down before by someone else. It is too straightforward once you have the Zabel pawn (Zabel-Bauer) introduced in fairy chess problems.

Being a chess variant with different pawns, all of the FIDE chess opening theory and the theory of endgames with pawns becomes invalid in this variant. But, since the modification to the pawn is very modest, tactics and strategy of FIDE chess remain much the same.


The usual FIDE chess setup is used, but all pawns are replaced with Zabel pawns.


The Zabel pawn is a sprinter pawn: It does not have an initial double move, but it has a final (optional) double move from the sixth rank directly to promotion.


All rules of FIDE chess apply.


The Zabel pawn is a very recent invention in fairy chess problems. The oldest reference I could locate so far is a problem in feenschach 146 (2002) Nr. 8621 by Bernd Gräfrath.

A Zabel pawn has the same numbers of steps to promotion as the standard pawn, so at the first glance it should have equal value. In the endgame, it is probably more valuable than a standard pawn, because it is harder to stop.

On the other hand, I believe that a matching of the Zabel-Schach army against the fabolous FIDEs will result in a straight win for the FIDEs. With their initial double moves the FIDEs will acquire a decisive Raumvorteil and win already in the middlegame. So, unfortunately, this is not the way to establish chess with different pawns. But it may be entertaining to try it anyway.

Of course, it is possible to play Chess with Different Armies with Zabel pawns.


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By Jörg Knappen.

Last revised by Jörg Knappen.

Web page created: 2010-02-10. Web page last updated: 2010-02-10