Menu Home

Dice chess

Dice chess is a Medieval variant of chess in which you roll dice to determine which pieces you are allowed to move.

Medieval Dice
The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most appealing aspects of chess is that it is deterministic and contains perfect information. In other words, there’s no randomness and no hidden information. Everything you need to know is right there on the board.

However, an early variant of chess introduces a true element of randomness: dice chess. Thought to have been played as early as the 11th century in Europe, and even earlier in India and Burma, dice chess involves rolling dice to determine which pieces you are allowed to move. Roll a 1, and you’re only allowed to move one of your pawns; roll a 2, and you can move a knight, and so on.

Dice chess has one particularly satisfying characteristic: there’s no such thing as checkmate. You win by actually capturing your opponent’s king (if you roll the right number), rather than just winning as soon as a capture is inevitable.

Categories: Europe Games & sport Medieval history South Asia

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

Leave a Reply