Introduction to Archchess (Chess Variant)

The world of chess is filled with a plethora of variants that challenge and engage players in new ways.

One such variant is Archduchess, a unique chess variant first introduced by Italian chess scholar Francesco Piacenza.

The game, originally named Arciscacchiere, was proposed in Piacenza’s influential book “I Campeggiamenti negli Scacchi”.

Origin and Naming

The English name, Archchess, was given by John Gollon.

This occurred in an unpublished book on chess variants, where Gollon brought Piacenza’s innovative concept to an English-speaking audience.

The term “Archduchess” is another common name for this variant, further expanding its global recognition.

Board and Pieces

Archduchess is played on a 10×10 square board, larger than the traditional 8×8 chess board.

This larger play area accommodates additional pieces and introduces more strategic possibilities.

Beyond the standard chess pieces and an additional two pawns, each player commands two unique pieces: the centurion and the decurion.

The Centurion

Positioned in the fourth column, the centurion has a distinctive method of movement.

It jumps to any square that is two squares distant, similar to a chess knight.

However, the centurion is not restricted to the knight’s L-shaped move; it can also move in a straight line, offering more versatile options on the board.

The Decurion

The decurion, placed in the seventh column, moves in a different manner.

This piece moves a single square in any diagonal direction, mimicking the fers of Shatranj, an ancient form of chess played in Persia.

The decurion’s limited movement capabilities introduce an interesting strategic layer to the game.

Rules and Variations

There are some variations and unique restrictions in Archduchess that differentiate it from standard chess.

These changes involve aspects such as pawn promotion, the rules of castling, and the en passant move.

For example, in Archduchess, pawns are promoted when they reach the last row, and they always promote to queens.

This represents a departure from regular chess, where a pawn can be promoted to a variety of pieces.


Archduchess, or Archchess, as it is also known, presents a fascinating and unique challenge for chess enthusiasts.

With its expanded board, unique pieces, and altered rules, it forces players to reevaluate their strategies and adapt to new dynamics.

As such, it remains a testament to the versatility and enduring appeal of the game of chess.

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