csipgs chess

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csipgs chess is a chess variant invented by Ralph Betza in 1996.[1] It was based on the strategic computer games (such as Master of Orion and the Civilization series) that were discussed in the Usenet newsgroup comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.strategic (abbreviated as csipgs).[1]


a b c d e f g h
e8 black king
e1 white king
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Starting position of csipgs chess

The game follows all the rules and conventions of standard chess, with the following differences:[1]

  1. White and Black both have their own set of reserve pieces, a treasury (containing money in zorkmids), and six piece designs.
  2. The game begins with only the two kings on the board, with White's king on e1 and Black's king on e8. At first, there are no reserves, there is no money in the treasury, and the six piece designs are the standard chess pieces (rook, knight, bishop, queen, king, and pawn).
  3. Each player's turn consists of credit (one zorkmid is added to the treasury), action (moving a piece on the board, transferring a piece from the reserves to an empty square adjacent to one of his kings, or buying a new reserve), and design (optionally changing one of his piece designs).
  4. New pieces may not be bought if:
    1. The player cannot afford them; or
    2. The player already has 16 pieces (this includes both pieces on the board and reserve pieces); or
    3. The player is in check.
  5. Reserve pieces may not be transferred to a square next to a friendly king that is in check.
  6. Pieces on the board cannot leave the board to become reserve pieces.
  7. A player with two or more kings (royal pieces) may ignore check, but the restrictions on bringing in reserve pieces and buying new pieces above still apply.
  8. Players have full knowledge of each player's reserves, treasury, and designs.
  9. Stalemate is a loss for the stalemated player.
  10. Pawns cannot move two squares on their first move (thus, en passant is impossible). Pawn promotion and castling are also illegal.

Designs and buying pieces[edit]

A player can have no more than six piece designs at any one time, so new designs can only be created by removing old designs. Only pieces that are in your current set of designs can be bought, so that it takes at least two turns to get any fairy chess piece on the board. Removing an old design does not affect pieces of that design already on the board or in the reserves of that design.

The cost of a piece may be determined by adding up the powers and modifiers on the list below, and then rounding up to the nearest zorkmid:[1]


The number given here is multiplied by the cost of the piece the modifier is applied to.

  • forward-only: 0.5 for orthogonal pieces, 0.7 for others
  • sideways-only: 0.5
  • backward-only: 0.2 for orthogonal piece, 0.4 for others
  • move-only or capture-only: 0.6
  • wide-only or narrow-only: 0.5 (only applies to knight and camel; "wide" refers to the more sideways moves, while "narrow" refers to the more vertical moves)

The following modifiers apply to the piece as a whole:

  • colourbound: 0.9
  • royal: 4.0
  • relay (unofficial: relays its power to pieces it protects): 2.0
  • shooting (unofficial: captures without moving): 3.0[2]
  • doublemove (unofficial: moves twice per turn): 6.0[2]

Sample game[edit]

White's and Black's turns are here numbered separately, due to the long notation for moves.[3]

Andy Kurnia – Hans Bodlaender, spring 1998[3]

This was the first game of csipgs chess ever played.

1.Kd2; P=WbRbmHfB

This notation refers to moving the king to d2 and then replacing the pawn design with a WbRbmHfB design (see Fairy chess piece#Ralph Betza's "funny notation" for an explanation of this notation for fairy chess pieces).

2.Kd7; P=WD
3.Kd3; B=WD 4.Kd6; B=fbDbcA
5.Buy WD; Q=BL

This notation refers to buying a WD and placing it into the reserves, and changing the queen design to a BL design.

6.Buy WD; Q=sWbmD

This notation refers to placing the WD from the reserves onto the board at d4, as in crazyhouse.

a b c d e f g h
c6 black king
g6 white king
f4 black chancelor
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Final position of the game
8.Ke6; WD=WF
9.(WD)e4+; BL=FbDbcA 10.Kf5
11.Buy WD; WD=WF 12.(WD)@e5
13.(WD)xe5+; WbRbmHfB=WD 14.Kxe5
15.Ke3 16.Kd5; sWbmD=Wfc(DNFA)scDsHbmH
17.Buy WD; WD=Wfc(DNFA)scDsHbmH 18.Buy Wfc(DNFA)scDsHbmH; FbDbcA=fc(DF)
19.(WD)@d4+; FbDbcA=fc(DF) 20.Ke6[note 1]
21.(WA)c4+ 22.Kd7
23.(WD)@e4 24.(Wfc(DNFA)scDsHbmH)@d6; fc(DF)=fF
25.(WA)cd4; fc(DF)=fF 26.(Wfc(DNFA)scDsHbmH)c6
27.Kf3 28.Buy WF
29.Buy Wfc(DNFA)scDsHbmH 30.(WF)@d6; N=NbR
31.(WD)xd6+ 32.(Wfc(DNFA)scDsHbmH)xd6; NbR=WbRbmHfB
33.(Wfc(DNFA)scDsHbmH)@f4 34.(Wfc(DNFA)scDsHbmH)xf4+
35.(WD)xf4 36.Kc6; WbRbmHfB=RbcBbN
37.Ke4; N=RbcBbN 38.Buy RbcBbN; Wfc(DNFA)scDsHbmH=fc(FN)
39.(WD)d4; fF=HWDbmF 40.(RbcBbN)@c5
41.Kd3 42.(RbcBbN)c1+
43.Ke4 44.(RbcBbN)e2+
45.Kf5 46.(RbcBbN)xd4+
47.Kg6 48.(RbcBbN)f4+ 0-1

Black can mate in two moves from the final position.[3]


  1. ^ Original reference gives 20.Kc5; this is probably an error, considering the 22nd move. This move is the only other possibility, given that 21.(WA)c4+ is check.


  1. ^ a b c d csipgs chess at the Chess Variant Pages
  2. ^ a b Monster Chess at the Chess Variant Pages
  3. ^ a b c csipgs chess: sample game at the Chess Variant Pages