Perfect 12

Les échecs duodécimaux

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Notice: this variant is now surpassed by METAMACHY


For the Ancients, 12 was a perfect number. Much more than 10, since it can be divided by 2, 3 and 4. This game is simply a chess variant on a 12 x 12 board with 12 different pieces. The balance does not stop here, just consider this:

  • there is the same number (18) of Pawns than other pieces
  • there are as many types of riders (Queen, Rook, Bishop, Gryphon) as leapers (Knight, Camel, Elephant, Lion)
  • the piece density is 0.5 exactly as for Orthodox Chess.

There are the 6 orthochess pieces plus 6 new ones mostly borrowed from most famous chess variations, historic and regional:

Pawns are the soul of Chess, Philidor used to say. In order to accommodate the large size of the board, it was necessary to increase their power as well.

I had it in my mind for several months, I should say years ! The key to set it up definitely has been the wonderful Zillions-of-games program. Without such a tool, it would have been impossible for me to try all the so many configurations I have tested. I came to this implementation at the end of April 1999. The rules have been slightly modified in April 2008 (with Prince's promotion and 2 steps castling instead of 3).


 The board is a 12 x 12 checkered squares with a white one at the right end of each player. For convenience, it can be divided into 16 sub-square showing halves and quarters of this large battlefield: 12 is really a nice number for a board.

There are 36 pieces per side: 1 King, 1 Queen, 1 Gryphon, 1 Lion, 2 Princes, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights, 2 Rooks, 2 Elephants, 2 Cannons, 2 Camels and 18 Pawns.

The white King is placed on the center of the second row on a black square, the black King beeing on a white square. The Queen is placed beside of the King. The Lion and the Gryphon are on the center of the first row, the Lion just behind the King. 

Moves And Captures

  • King: exactly as in usual Chess.
  • Queen: exactly as in usual Chess.
  • Bishop: exactly as in usual Chess.
  • Knight: exactly as in usual Chess.
  • Rook: exactly as in usual Chess.
  • Pawn: the Pawn is almost similar to FIDE Chess. There are two differences:
    It can advance one or two square from ANY position on the board. However, its capturing move is unchanged: one square diagonally forward. As a consequence, the en-passant capture is possible every time the opposite Pawn has advanced two squares.
    When the Pawn reaches the last row it can promote to one of the three major pieces: Queen, Lion or Gryphon.
  • Lion: the Lion is inspired (although with some simplification) by Chu Shogi, the most popular variant of the Japanese Chess. This game is also played on a 12 x 12 board and was mentioned as long ago as the twelfth century and therefore predates modern Shogi by centuries. In this game, the Lion may move as a King (a single step move in any direction), or it may jump to a position two squares away, jumping in any orthogonal or diagonal direction, or alternatively jumping as a Knight in Western Chess. (Then this Lion has the same range but is more restricted than the Lion in Chu Shogi which can move 2 times in a turn).

Castling: the King may `castle` with the Rook if neither the Rook nor King has moved yet and there is nothing in between them. In castling the King slides 2 squares to the Rook and the Rook leaps to the far side of the King. You may not castle out of or through check, or if the King or Rook involved has previously moved.

End Of Game: Victory is obtained when the opposite King is checkmated. All other types of endgame (pat, perpetual check,...) are classic.

Pieces Value

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, Bishop: 3.4, Cannon: 4.9, Rook: 5,
Lion: 7.4, Gryphon: 7.9, Queen: 8.2 .

Find the rules in the Chess Variant Pages (caution, they are not updated yet, the good ones are here)

 On emploie un échiquier 12 x 12 cases et 36 pièces par joueur.

12 a toujours été considéré comme un nombre parfait. Essayez cette variante sur un échiquier géant de 12 cases de côtés et vous serez certainement séduit par son équilibre.

Il y a 12 types de pièces différents: les 6 classiques et 6 nouvelles choisies parmi les meilleures des variantes asiatiques et historiques.
Il y a le même nombre de Pions que de pièces majeures.
Il y a autant de "coureurs" que de "sauteurs".
La densité (nombre de pièce / nombre de cases) est de 1/2 exactement comme aux Echecs orthodoxes.

"Les pions sont l'âme des échecs" disait Philidor. Ici, étant donné la grande taille de l'échiquier, les pouvoirs du Pion ont été augmentés.

Vous pouvez jouer aux Echecs Duodécimaux si vous possédez Zillions-of-Games en téléchargeant le fichier suivant:

You can play Perfect 12 if you own Z-o-G. Download this zip-file:

The Gryphon