Paul Byway’s

Modern Courier Chess

a modernized medieval variant

Modern Courier Chess

The goal is checkmate. Stalemate is a draw. Board is 12x8. Pieces, except the Fers and the Courier, move as in orthodox chess. Setup is RNCBFQKFBCNR. The Fers steps one square diagonally. It may also jump two steps diagonally, but only when moving the first time. The Courier jumps two steps in all directions. It is worth a Knight. There is no castling. Instead, an unmoved King may jump two steps to an empty square. It may not be in check or jump over a threatened square.

Courier Chess probably originated in Germany in or before the 12th century. Unusually for a large variant, it remained popular for hundreds of years. It was first documented in 1202 by Wirnt von Gravenberg. H.G. Albers last reported it to be regularly played in Ströbeck, Germany, in 1821. For a more detailed history, see Murray’s A History of Chess. Modern Courier Chess is a modernized version, invented by Paul Byway in 1971.


Pritchard, D.B. (2007). The Classified Encyclopedia of Chess Variants. (here)

Byway, P. (2001). ‘Modern Courier Chess’. Variant Chess. (here)

‘Courier chess’. Wikipedia article. (here)

Oltermann, P. (2017). ‘Germany’s chess village hopes heritage listing proves “leap of joy” move’. The Guardian. (here)

‘Elsborg’s Courier Chess’. Zillions of Games. (here)

☛  You can download my free Modern Courier Chess program here, but you must own the software Zillions of Games to be able to run it (I recommend the download version).

☛  Don’t miss my other chess variants.

© M. Winther, 2018 April