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DragonChess is a chess-like game.




DragonChess is a chess-like game.

Dragonchess was invented by Gary Gygax and published in Dragon Magazine #100, August 1985. Gary Gygax is probably best known as the inventor of the most well known role playing game (Advanced) Dungeons and Dragons. Dragonchess is a three-dimensional chess variant, where the pieces are actually characters and monsters from the Dungeons and Dragons setting. In the same issue of Dragon Magazine, one also finds a short story by Gary Gygax, titled At Moonset Blackcat Comes. Interestingly, Gord, the hero of this fantasy story, (also appearing in other works of Gygax), plays some games of Dragonchess against a mysterious opponent. When Gord sees the board, he says:

I have played at Chatranj before, but this board is far different.

His future opponent replies:

Chess has many forms, ... but all are similar, too.

Besides this being a nice quote, the above also shows that Gygax has been aware of more chess variants. His mentioning of Chatranj, (a different spelling of Shatranj), is also interesting. The fact that pawns do not have an initial double move in Dragonchess probably is Gygax tribute to this ancient predecessor of chess as we know it; quite fitting for a game supposed to be played in a fantasy world, although players may find that this slows the game.

The following description of the game was written by Edward Jackman, with some final editing done by Hans Bodlaender. The description below addresses some ambiguities and typos in the original description of Gygax.

Dragonchess is a trademark, owned by its owner (which might be TSR or Gary Gygax.)

DRAGONCHESS is played on 3 8x12 boards stacked above each other. The near right corner of all three boards is white. The top board represents the sky, the middle board the ground and the bottom board the underworld.

Algebraic notation is used. A cell is noted by the board number, file letter and rank number, in that order. For example, the Gold Elemental (E) in opening setup starts at 3g1. All pieces are referred to by their initial letter except the Dragon which is referred to by the letter R to distinguish it from the Dwarf.
Last updated on November 24th, 2007

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