2012: The mysterious
Metamachy is finally revealed!
An incredible depth, an impressive
complexity, a fascinating game
The name of Metamachy comes
from a Greek root meaning "beyond the battle". At Metamachy, the
number 12, symbol of perfection, is everywhere.
Metamachy is a board game for two players using a dozenal
There are 60 (5x12) pieces of 12 different
Each player has:
1 King, 1 Queen, 1 Eagle, 1 Lion, 2 Princes, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights,
2 Camels, 2 Rooks, 2 Cannons, 2 Elephants and 12 Pawns.
There is a choice of 12 different starting setups.
Black chooses the setup and White makes the first move.
Goal is to checkmate the opposing King.
1 of the 12 possible starting positions
ON-LINE WITH JOCLY
- King: moves 1 step in every (8) directions on a
not attacked square. The King is in check if it is attacked by
one or several enemy pieces. It is forbidden to play a move
letting his King in check. There is no castling at Metamachy.
At his first move, the King may jump to a free square at
two squares' distance. For instance, from f2, it can jump to d1,
d2, d3, d4, e4, f4, g4, h4, h3, h2 or h1). It does not matter if
the square jumped over is occupied or not; however, the jump is
forbidden if that intermediate square is threatened by an enemy
piece. When jumping like a Knight, at least one of the two
intermediate squares must be free of threat (e.g., if jumping
from f2 to h3, either g2 or g3 must not be under attack). The
King's jump is not permitted if the King is in check. This rule,
which was once prevalent in medieval European chess, replaces
- Queen: slides to any square along the
file, the rank or a diagonal on which it stands.
- Eagle: moves one square diagonally and then,
slides away of an indefinite number of squares vertically or
horizontally. It is authorized to go only one square diagonal.
It can not jump and the unobstructed path must start with the
diagonal movement. This piece is almost as powerful as the Queen
and is inspired by the Giraffe from Tamerlane's
Chess and the Aanca (a mythical giant bird preying
elephants, mistaken for a gryphon) from Alfonso X's Grant
Acedrex. This piece is also known as Gryphon in many chess
- Lion: moves as a King (a single step move in any
direction), or may jump to a position two squares away, jumping
in any orthogonal or diagonal direction, or jumping as a Knight.
(Inspired by Chu
Shogi, the most popular variant of the Japanese
Chess, where the Lion has the same range but is more dreadful as
it can move twice in a turn).
- Bishop: slides to any square along a diagonal on
which it stands. Note that it always stays on the same color of
- Knight: jumps to the opposite square of a 2x3
rectangle. No matter what the intermediate square contains. It
is also described as a (2,1) leaper. Note that it always change
the color of square at each move.
- Camel: jumps to the opposite square of a 2x4
rectangle, like an extended Knight. No matter what intermediate
squares contain. It is also described as a (3,1) leaper. Note
that it always stays on the same color of square. A well known
piece from medieval Muslim great Chess like Tamerlane's
- Rook: moves to any square along the file or the
rank on which it stands.
- Cannon: exactly as in Shako,
it is borrowed from Xiangqi. It moves
without taking like a Rook, but it takes by going in a straight
horizontal and vertical line and jumping over exactly one piece.
When a Cannon takes a piece, there must be exactly one piece
between the original and final square of the Cannon's move -
this piece may be of either color.
- Elephant: exactly as in Shako.
It moves one or two squares diagonally. When an Elephant moves
two squares, no matter what intermediate squares contain. Note
that it always stays on the same color of square. The Elephant
moves as the combined Alfil and Firzan (Ferz) from Shatranj,
two pieces which were also present in medieval Chess and have
disappeared with the birth of modern moves for the Bishop and
- Prince: a non-royal King who moves and captures
one square in any direction, but without being hindered by
check. It has been inspired by medieval games like the Courier
chess , an old chess variant, played in Germany,
where it is called "Man". Like the Pawn, he can also move
without capturing to the second square straight ahead from
any position on the board.
- Pawn: can move straight forward one or
two square from any position on the board, without
capturing. It captures one square diagonally forward.
- Pawn and Prince Promotion: A Pawn or a Prince
reaching the last rank of the board is immediately replaced by a
Queen, an Eagle or a Lion. Promotion to any other type of piece
is not allowed. It is permitted to promote a Pawn or Prince to a
type of piece already present on the same side; however; it is
considered "good etiquette" to avoid choosing a piece which is
not captured yet, if possible.
Note that the Pawn must take at least five moves to reach
promotion (taking double steps on rows 3 - 5 - 7 - 9 - 11 - 12),
which is the same number of moves required for a Pawn in
standard chess (rows 2 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8).
- En Passant capture: Any time a Pawn or Prince
takes a double step and passes through the capture square of an
opposing Pawn, that Pawn may capture the Pawn or Prince as if it
had only moved one square. This en passant capture must
be made in the immediate move following the double step. Only a
Pawn may capture en passant; the Prince does not have
At the beginning all pieces but the Kings, Queens,
Eagles and Lions are placed as follows:
- 1st row: Cannon / Camel / . / . / . / . / . / . / . / . /
Camel / Cannon
- 2nd row: Elephant / Rook / Knight / Bishop / Prince / . / . /
Prince / Bishop / Knight / Rook / Elephant
- 3rd row: 12 x Pawn
Then, Black freely decides
where to place his King, Queen, Eagle and Lion on squares f11,
g11, f12 and g12.
Then, White put his pieces
symmetrically in mirror (if Black King is on f12, White King
goes on f1) and makes the first move.
This agreement balances the
advantage of White starting to play with Black choosing the
As pieces are placed in mirror
symmetry, positions of Kings on f squares are exactly equivalent
of positions of King on g squares. Then, it can be demonstrated
that it exists 12 different starting positions:
The King can be on f11
or f12: 2 choices
Then, the Queen has a
choice of 3 positions: beside the King, beneath the King
or diagonal to the King.
Then, the Eagle has a
choice of 2 remaining positions.
Then, the left place
is for the Lion. 2x3x2 = 12.
End Of Game:
The end-of-game rules, checkmate, stalemate, etc., are
identical to standard chess.
Homemade Metamachy set and board
Zillions gives these average values, normalized to 5
for the Rook :
Pawn: 0.8 ; Camel: 2.1 ; Elephant: 2.3 ;
Knight: 2.4 ; Prince: 3.2 ; Bishop: 3.4 ;
Cannon: 4.9 ;
Rook: 5 ; Lion: 7.4 ; Eagle: 7.8 ; Queen: 8.2
A maybe more realistic estimate would be:
Pawn: 1 ; Camel: 2 ; Elephant: 2.5 ;
Knight: 2.5 ; Prince: 3.5 ; Bishop: 3.5 ;
Cannon: 4 ; Rook: 5 ;
Lion: 7.5 ; Eagle: 8 ; Queen: 9
These values are just given for a very rough
estimate. A lot of players would disagree and give less or more
points to several piece.
You can play Metamachy if you own Z-o-G. Download this zip-file:
Find Metamachy in the Chessvariants
There is a preset
to play it there.
Read the very
first book about this great
The book contains all rules, illustrated with many
diagrams, a lot of technical considerations and some annoted
games. It also reveals the incredible history and genesis of
The book is in French,
but with many diagrams it is a must have also for English readers.
tablier de 12 x 12 cases.
total de 5 x 12 pièces, de 12 types
Dame, Fous, Cavaliers, Tours, Pions mais aussi Aigle,
Lion, Chameaux, Éléphants, Princes et Canons.
manières différentes de les disposer au
old Metamachy board found in England
Diagrams made with the fantastic Chess Board Painting Tools
provided by Musketeer