This article originally appeared in Pyramid #23

Knightmare Chess

Official Rulings

Compiled by Hunter Johnson

Editor's Note: For several months, the SJ Games staff and other interested Knightmare Chess fans debated, in mostly-friendly tones, a number of knotty questions that have arisen since the game came out last August. Many thanks to Hunter Johnson, Steffan O'Sullivan and original Temepete sur l'Echiquier co-designer Bruno Faidutti for their help with these rulings.

Section 1: Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate

Q. If my move puts my opponent in (apparent) checkmate, does he get a chance to escape by playing a card in his hand?

A. Yes. The game ends only when one player has been checkmated and cannot escape on his own turn.

Q. The Checkmate Rule only says that regular cards may not directly cause checkmate. Does this mean I can make a move and play a Continuing Effect card that results in checkmate?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I play a regular card to deliver checkmate if I think my opponent has a card that will let him escape checkmate?

A. No. Your opponent's hand is irrelevant. If you try this, your card will be discarded with no effect.

Q. What happens if I place or leave my King in check, play a card to remove the check, and my opponent plays Fog of War?

A. Both cards are discarded, and you must take back your illegal move and make another move. Both players have already played cards for this turn, so no further cards may be played.

Q. But what if playing the card was the only way to get out of checkmate?

A. Same effect, and you are checkmated since you have no legal move. Since checkmate was delivered earlier without the use of a card, it is still legal.

Q. What happens if I try to make a move, but my opponent plays a card (Bog) that results in an illegal final position (i.e., my King in check)?

A. No regular card may cause either player to place or leave his own King in check at the end of his own turn. If a played card breaks this rule, it has no effect. It is still considered played; the player must discard it and draw a new card. (Consider this an extension of the Checkmate Rule.)

Working it outQ. So my opponent can't play Riposte if I capture the piece that is checking my King?

A. Yes, he can play Riposte as long as this does not create checkmate. Since his piece can't capture next turn (he loses his next turn because of Riposte), your turn doesn't end in check.

Q. Can a piece under the effect of Pacifist (or Fatal Attraction) give check?

A. No. Since capturing is impossible, it cannot give check (third paragraph under The Checkmate Rule).

Q. But on my turn I can play Peace Talks, remove the Pacifist effect, and the King will be in check!

A. Yep.

Q. Can I leave my King in check if I Challenge my opponent to move a type of piece that is not giving check? Can I move my King into check and play Mystic Shield?

A. Yes to both, again because capturing is impossible. Note that you will likely be back in check on your next turn, since neither Challenge nor Mystic Shield are continuing effects.

Q. If Vendetta is in play and your only possible captures would place (or leave) your King in check, have you lost, or is Vendetta discarded?

A. Since you have no legal captures, Vendetta is discarded.

Q. If I've played Coup and subsequently lost my Prince, what happens if my opponent plays Peace Talks and cancels Coup?

A. It would be illegal to play Peace Talks against Coup at that point, by The Checkmate Rule.

Q. What happens when there are no available spaces for the King to reappear on after playing Under Elf Hill?

A. Stalemate. The king is not in check, but the game cannot continue.

Q. How is stalemate defined?

A. Stalemate by repeated position is determined only by the state of the board, and is not affected by changes in the players' hands. Stalemate by lack of legal moves can (at the moving player's option) be escaped by the play of a card.

Section 2: Specific Pieces

Q. What happens to promoted Pawns? If they are replaced with a Knight (for example), can I no longer Resurrect that Knight? Can I bring back the Pawn piece?

A. You should treat it as if the Pawn were still on the board, marked in some way to note that it is now a Knight (or other piece). If you replace it with a captured piece of the appropriate type, you should treat the Pawn as if it were dead, and remember that the captured piece is still available for cards that affect captured pieces.

Q. Can I promote a Pawn to a Prince?

A. No. Promotion is still limited to Knights, Bishops, Rooks and Queens, just like in ordinary chess.

Q. What cards can affect Crabs or Princes?

A. Cards that affect Pawns or Kings, respectively. You may also be Challenged to move a Crab or a Prince specifically.

Q. Are the Prince and Crab considered distinct piece names for purposes of Doomsayer, or are they affected by uttering "King" and "Pawn"? Are Neutral pieces affected by Doomsayer?

A bad place to get stuckA. They are distinct piece names. By the transformed pieces rule, they can be affected by cards that name the original piece. In this case, you may remove the Crab after saying either "Pawn" or "Crab." Saying "King" has no effect, as usual. Saying "Prince" will force you to remove your Prince, and saying "Pawn" when your only pawn has been Couped to be a King has no effect. Yes, either player may lose a Neutral piece by naming it while Doomsayer is in effect.

Section 3: Specific Cards

Q. Can Breakthrough allow a pawn on his home rank capture a piece with a two-square forward move?

A. Yes.

Q. Can a Pawn moving sideways with Forced March capture a piece beside it?

A. No. The sideways move replaces the Pawn's regular (non-capturing) forward move.

Q. Can Evil Eye be used by Pacifists? By pieces held in place by Fatal Attraction?

A. No. Capture is not threatened, so Evil Eye may not be played.

Q. Can a Pacifist piece be captured by Fireball, Hostage, Revenge, Toll or Split Knight? Can it be killed (made Dead) by Betrayal or Disintegration?

A. It is not subject to any of the listed capture effects (and cannot itself explode to trigger Fireball). It also does not threaten any pieces, so it could not use Split Knight. It may be lost by Betrayal or Disintegration.

Q. Can I move my King and play Fireball (since it says Kings are not affected)?

A. No. Or, you could, but nothing would happen, since the King does not explode, and none of the surrounding pieces would be captured.

Q. If I move a Rook, Bishop, or Queen two or more squares and play Fireball, then my opponent plays Bog, what happens?

A. Your piece moves one square in the appropriate direction and explodes, taking out the pieces adjacent to its final position.

Q. Can my opponent Bog my Knight moving as a Queen via Masquerade?

A. No. Bog does not affect Knights, and Masquerade does not make your Knight a Queen - it only moves as if it were a Queen. This is true for all cards that allow pieces to move as if they were other pieces. He may, however, Bog your Bishop moving as a Queen.

Q. So I can Bog my opponent's Queen moving as a Knight (Dubbing)?

A. No; the Knight-like move does not qualify for the Bog effect.

Q. So a Queen Confabulated with a Knight and making a Knight move can't be Bogged either?

A. Right.

Q. My Queen is Confabulated with my only remaining Knight. Can this piece be Challenged? Can it be captured via Riposte?

A. Yes and no. Your opponent could legally Challenge you to move a Knight, and you would be forced to move the Queen/Knight or forfeit your turn. However, Riposte says that it cannot capture a Queen, therefore it cannot capture the Queen/Knight.

Q. Can I capture my own piece if it has had Neutrality played on it?

A. Yes.

Q. What happens to continuing effects on pieces that are subsequently Confabulated? What if the Confabulation is later removed by Peace Talks?

A. The continuing effect applies to the whole Confabulation. The exception: if the continuing effect resulted in a different, named piece, it continues to apply only to that portion of the Confabulation. After Peace Talks, any continuing effects will act as they did prior to Confabulation.

Q. I've played Confabulation to merge two Pawns. If I play Annexation, can I move this piece twice, or once and move another Pawn, or once only? Does it move forward two squares if I play Onslaught?

A. It is only one piece, so it can be moved once (along with a separate pawn) with Annexation, and it moves forward one square (if possible) with Onslaught.

Q. A Fortification is set up like this:Fortification Example Diagram

Can a piece move from squares 2 to 6? 1 to 5? 5 to 3? 2 to 4?

A. 1 to 5, 5 to 3, and 2 to 6 are okay. You cannot move from 2 to 1, 4, or 5 (unless the moving piece can jump).

Q. What can I do with Plots Within Plots?

A. You can play two "before-move" cards, then make a normal chess move. You can play a "before-move" card and a "replace-move" card. You can play two "replace-move" cards. You can make a normal chess move, then play two "after-move" cards.

You cannot play a "replace-move" card and an "after-move" card, because the "after-move" card is not legal to play at the moment Plot Within Plots is played.

On your opponents' turn, you can play two "after-opponent's-move" cards, two "after-opponent's-card-play" cards, or (if he played a "replace-move" card) one of each.

Q. What happens if my opponent plays Fog of War against my Plots Within Plots?

A. He can cancel your Plots Within Plots before you play your additional two cards, or he can cancel either of the subsequent cards. This is not a game of speed, however, so if you do not pause between playing Plots Within Plots and the additional cards, your opponent can ask you to back up in order to cancel the Plots Within Plots card.

Q. What "move" do Knightmare!, Think Again! and Chaos cancel? Do I play it after my opponent moves a piece, or after his entire turn?

A. They are played after his entire turn, including his optional card play.

Q. If I play Panic, can my opponent make a move quickly and then take his time to decide which "after move" card to play?

A. No. His entire turn must be completed within 15 seconds (first definition of Move in the glossary).

Q. After his move, my opponent played Panic. I made my move, but my opponent then played Knightmare! (or Think Again!, or Chaos). How much time do I have to make my new move?

A. The Panic is no longer in effect - you may take your turn under whatever time limits you normally have in your game.

Something's afoot with her majestyQ. Can my opponent use Rebirth to send my white-square Bishop back to the black-square Bishop starting position?

A. Sure. It only matters that a Bishop could have started there; this is also true for Knights, Rooks, and Pawns, but somehow only Bishops are asked about . . .

Q. For purposes of Bombard, if Forbidden City is immediately behind (or in front of) a Fortification, is that considered one obstruction or two? Is a piece behind/in front of a Fortification one obstruction or two?

A. The Fortification edge is one obstruction, and any piece (or Forbidden City) also in the way would be a second.

Q. What happens if my Rook is adjacent to one of my own pieces, I play Bombard to jump over that piece, and my opponent plays Bog?

A. Count the square beyond the adjacent piece as the first square of the move (i.e., the Rook stops its move on the other side of the adjacent piece). Similarly for Ghostwalk - the first empty square counts as the first square of the move.

Q. Normally, a King cannot castle into, out of, or through check. Obviously, Sanctuary cannot put a King in check, but can it work out of or through check? Can the Rook capture on its move? Is this considered a Rook move or a King move?

A. Yes, it can work out of or through check. A rook capture would be impossible, since there can be "no pieces between them." Both pieces moved.

Q. Can I capture any of my pieces if I play Assassin, even if I can't get to that square with a legal move?

A. No.

Q. Can Legacy retrieve unique cards?

A. Yes.

Q. How come Resurrection can't raise the dead (it only recovers lost pieces, not dead ones)?

A. Because we thought that would make it too powerful, and we wanted dead to mean really dead.

Section 4: Miscellaneous

Q. When the deck runs out, do we reshuffle the discards into a new deck in a common-deck game?

A. No, unless both players agree to do so (usually before play starts). Normally you would just draw no more cards.

Q. When a player uses a before-move card, can he then use another card during his regular move?

A. No. You may play no more than one card on your turn, whether it's before, instead of, or after your move.

Article publication date: February 1, 1997

Copyright © 1997 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to