Chess Variants/Cylinder Chess

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a b c d e f g h
8a8 black kingb8 crossc8 black kingd8 crosse8 black kingf8 black kingg8 black kingh8 black king8
7a7 crossb7 black kingc7 black kingd7 black kinge7 crossf7 black kingg7 black kingh7 black king7
6a6 black kingb6 black kingc6 black kingd6 black kinge6 black kingf6 crossg6 black kingh6 cross6
5a5 black kingb5 black kingc5 black kingd5 black kinge5 black kingf5 black kingg5 crossh5 black king5
4a4 black circleb4 black kingc4 black kingd4 black kinge4 black kingf4 crossg4 black circleh4 cross4
3a3 crossb3 black circlec3 black kingd3 black kinge3 crossf3 black circleg3 black kingh3 black king3
2a2 black kingb2 crossc2 black kingd2 crosse2 black kingf2 black kingg2 black kingh2 black knight2
1a1 black kingb1 black circlec1 white bishopd1 black kinge1 black kingf1 black circleg1 black kingh1 black king1
a b c d e f g h
The bishop on c1 and the knight on h2 both have their moves affected by the cylindrical board, as they are allowed to loop around the board's edges to reach more squares than they could otherwise. The bishop may move to all squares marked with a cross, and the knight may move to all squares marked with a dot.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Cylinder Chess (also known as Cylindrical Chess) is a variant that alters the geometry of the board, turning it from a flat plane into a cylinder. This altered geometry allows for pieces to make sneaky surprise attacks and enriches the tactical opportunities chess offers.

History[edit | edit source]

Cylinder chess is a rather old variant. In 947 CE the Arabic historian Ali al-Masudi wrote a chess book that described six different variants of chess (then known as shatranj), and cylinder chess was amongst the variants described. The variant's unique board geometry has also been used in chess problems.

Rules[edit | edit source]

Cylinder chess is played using the exact same starting position and rules as the standard game, with one key difference - the board is assumed to be a cylinder, with the a- and h- files connected. If a piece moves off the edge of the board, it loops around to the other side and may keep moving. So for instance, a rook on a3 could move to h3 even if there was a piece on b3, since the rook could loop around the board to get to h3.

Usually, it is forbidden to make a move that would leave the board position unchanged, such as moving a rook across an empty file to the square where it started. Also, pawns can capture en passant over the board edge (e.g. if White has a pawn on h5 and black a pawn on a7, then if Black plays 1... a5 White can capture with 2. axh6).

There are two different version of the castling rules in Cylinder chess:

  • One version outright eliminates castling altogether. The proponents of this version state that the altered board geometry makes all of the files equivalent, defeating the purpose of castling.
  • The other version allows the king to castle like normal, but allows it to castle with the wrong rook, over the board edge, if the player so wishes. So for instance the king could castle kingside with the queen's rook, moving the king from e1 to g1 and the queen's rook from a1 over the board edge to f1.

Sub-variants[edit | edit source]


a b c d e f g h
8a8 black rookb8 black kingc8 black bishopd8 black kinge8 black kingf8 black bishopg8 black kingh8 black rook8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black kingd7 black kinge7 black kingf7 black kingg7 black pawnh7 black pawn7
6a6 black knightb6 black kingc6 black pawnd6 black queene6 black kingf6 black pawng6 black kingh6 black knight6
5a5 black kingb5 black kingc5 black kingd5 black pawne5 black pawnf5 black kingg5 black kingh5 black king5
4a4 black kingb4 black kingc4 black kingd4 white pawne4 white pawnf4 black kingg4 black kingh4 black king4
3a3 white knightb3 black kingc3 white pawnd3 white queene3 white kingf3 white pawng3 black kingh3 white knight3
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 black kingd2 black kinge2 black kingf2 black kingg2 white pawnh2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 black kingc1 white bishopd1 black kinge1 black kingf1 white bishopg1 black kingh1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h
Starting position of Toroidal chess
  • Horizontal cylinder chess turns the board into a horizontal cylinder, with the first and eighth ranks connected.
  • Toroidal chess combines both standard cylinder chess and horizontal cylinder chess, with both files and ranks connected. Due to this, a different starting position is used so the kings do not check each other at game start.