Gustav III's Chess

invented by a king!

King Gustav III's Chess


This chess variant was invented by King Gustav III of Sweden (1746-92). The objective is checkmate. On the four extra corner squares are initially positioned two General-Adjutants per side. The General-Adjutant (also called Amazon) moves like a Queen + Knight. This piece is known since medieval times. Otherwise regular rules apply, except for the additional possibility of pawn promotion to General-Adjutant.

Among Swedish kings, Gustav is regarded as the foremost patron of literature, art, and science. He founded the Swedish Academy in 1786, which is the institution responsible for the Nobel prize. Gustav instituted a series of financial and judicial reforms to correct corruption in high office, grant freedom of the press, and complete religious toleration. He enlarged the navy, making it one of the strongest in Europe. In 1790, at Svensksund, south of Finland, he personally led the navy to a crushing victory against the Russian fleet. In this colossal sea battle, among the biggest in the historical record, the Swedish fleet managed to destroy a third of the Russian fleet. This enabled Gustav to end the war on terms favorable to Sweden. In 1792, at a costume ball at the opera house, Gustav was shot and fatally wounded in a plot conceived by hostile nobles (Funk & Wagnall’s Enc.).

King Gustav III of SwedenKing Gustav III of Sweden.
 (Wikimedia Commons)


Strategy: It seems like this game works very well, despite the fact that the combined piece power is enormous compared with regular chess. On this comparably small board, which was also an invention by Gustav III, the General-Adjutant cannot run amok. The positions are too cramped for that. This circumstance explains why the game retains much of the strategical and positional character of regular chess. The General-Adjutant is unique because it can, without any aid, give mate to the enemy king. The four extra squares are also important hiding nests for the King. If a Pawn is worth 1 point, a Queen is worth 9 points, then a General-Adjutant is worth about 12 points.


Source for Gustav III’s chess variant is:

Billberg, G.J. Hand-bibliothek för sällskapsnöjen. Stockholm (1838-39).




☛  You can download my free Gustav III’s Chess program here, (updated 2007-06-12) but you must own the software Zillions of Games to be able to run it.

☛  Try playing Gustav III’s Chess by e-mail, against a human opponent, here.

☛  Don’t miss my other chess variants.




© Mats Winther 2006







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