Amazon (chess)

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An icon for the amazon used in diagrams

An amazon (also known as a queen+knight compound) is a fairy chess piece that can move like a queen or a knight (or, equivalently, like a rook, bishop, or knight). It may thus be considered the sum of all orthodox chess pieces (not including pawns, nor the royal powers of a king). It cannot jump over other pieces when moving as a queen, but may do so when moving as a knight. Chess moves in this article use A as notation for the amazon. The amazon can force checkmate on an enemy king without the help of any other friendly piece.


a8 black cross
e8 black cross
b7 black cross
e7 black cross
h7 black cross
c6 black cross
d6 black circle
e6 black cross
f6 black circle
g6 black cross
c5 black circle
d5 black cross
e5 black cross
f5 black cross
g5 black circle
a4 black cross
b4 black cross
c4 black cross
d4 black cross
e4 A l
f4 black cross
g4 black cross
h4 black cross
c3 black circle
d3 black cross
e3 black cross
f3 black cross
g3 black circle
c2 black cross
d2 black circle
e2 black cross
f2 black circle
g2 black cross
b1 black cross
e1 black cross
h1 black cross
The amazon can move as a queen or a knight. Crosses mark squares where the amazon can move but not jump; dark circles mark squares where it can jump.


The amazon is one of the most simply described fairy chess pieces and as such has a long history and has gone by many names.[a] It was experimented with and used widely in the Middle Ages to replace the old slow ferz, and competed with the orthodox queen for this role; however, the modern queen eventually won out because of the excessive power of an amazon. In Russia, for a long time, the queen could also move like a knight; some players disapproved of this ability to "gallop like the horse" (= knight).[2][3] The book A History of Chess by H. J. R. Murray, page 384, says that some Mr. Coxe, who was in Russia in 1772, saw chess played with the queen also moving like a knight.

The amazon was first used in Turkish Great Chess, a large medieval variant of chess, where it was called the giraffe. It appears most famously as the maharajah in the chess variant Maharajah and the Sepoys, where it is White's royal piece and also his only piece. The result of this game is a Black win with perfect play; the complete set of orthodox chessmen can force checkmate on a lone amazon.


h7 black king
d5 A l
a1 white king
White can mate in one with 1.Af7# or 1.Af6#.

The amazon has a very high value (estimated to be about 1​14 times that of the ordinary queen, that is, about 11 or 12 points) because it controls every square in a 5×5 square of squares centered on itself and therefore attacks everything nearby, filling a whole area with attacks once it moves into position, and forces checkmate by itself. In contrast, although the gryphon (or griffin) from Grande Acedrex (which moves one step diagonally before continuing outwards as a rook) would seem to have the value of two rooks (about 10 or 11 points), the squares it attacks are more dispersed and it can be more easily defended against than the amazon.

In the endgame of king and amazon versus king and empress (rook+knight compound), the amazon usually wins, but in a few positions the weaker side may force a draw by setting up a fortress. These fortresses force the side with the amazon to give perpetual check, as otherwise the side with the empress can force a simplification or give its own perpetual check. King and amazon versus king is a forced win for the side with the amazon; checkmate can be forced within four moves. In comparison, the queen requires 10 moves and the rook requires 16. In fact, the amazon does not even require its king's help to force checkmate (as an example of a checkmate position, the king is in the corner and the attacking amazon is a knight's move away from it), and this great power is the reason why it is not seen as often in chess variants as the princess or empress.


Both white and black symbols for the amazon were added to version 12 of the Unicode standard in March 2019, in the Chess Symbols block:


See also[edit]

  • Empress—the rook+knight compound
  • Princess—the bishop+knight compound
  • Queen—the rook+bishop compound


  1. ^ Other names the piece has acquired include angel, ayanu, commander, crown prince, elephant, empress, general, giraffe, grand chancellor, maharajah, rettah, royal guard, superqueen, tetra queen, and wyvern.[1]


  1. ^ Pritchard, D. B. (1994), "Pieces", The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, Games & Puzzles Publications, p. 227, ISBN 0-9524142-0-1
  2. ^ [1] Archived 2012-01-11 at the Wayback Machine (in Russian)
  3. ^ [2] (in Russian)