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Circular Chess

Circular Chess is the game, played by The Circular Chess Society. Inspired by a picture in a book from 1905 which showed a circular chess board in use in the 11th century, Dave Reynolds from Lincoln, England, Great Brittain, invented the modern rules of the game in 1983, and played this with others in a pub in Lincoln. Others followed, and especially in the Lincoln Tap and Spile circular chess became a regular sight. In 1996, Dave Reynolds started the Circular Chess Society, and this (so far small but growing) Society had his first world championship in 1996.

It is likely that the game seen in the book by Reynolds was Byzantine Chess, or an offspring of Byzantine Chess.


The game is played on a cicular board, made of 4 rings of 16 squares each. A normal set of pieces is used, and the standard setup is `folded', to give the starting setup shown below:

Most rules are as in orthodox chess, but there are the following consequences of playing on a round board:

Pawns move in a specific direction, and continue to move in that direction. Pawns promote when they reach the opposite of the board, i.e., the squares where the major pieces of the opponent start the game). Also, there is no en-passant capture. (This was because the inventor didn't like this rule.)

There is no castling. It is not allowed to make a move with the rook or queen that ends up on the square where the move started. (For instance, consider a rook on an empty board. The rook could move entirely around the board to the place where the rook started, effectively meaning that the move didn't change the position. Such `null moves' are not allowed.)

Written by: Hans Bodlaender. Rob Stevens (Circular Chess World Champion 1996) noted an error in the previous version of these rules.
WWW page created: March 24, 1997. Last modified: April 1, 1997.