Holy Grail

The Battle Templar, the Champion, the Ninja Pawn and the Crown Prince are all on the quest for the Holy Grail, but beware of the evil Mutating Serpent!

The game is played on the same 104 square board used for games such as Birds and Ninjas and Stealth Ninja Chess. It uses a pair of modified Templars from Templar Chess and a pair of Champions from Omega Chess. The knights are augmented with either a Ferz (diagonal stepping) or Wazir (orthogonal stepping) movement.

The game can be played with these pieces alone, but the crux of the game features the pieces introduced through the drop zones. Two additional pieces are dropped into the rear center edge squares: the Crown Prince, and the Mutating Serpent. Dropping the above pieces is considered a move.

The mutating serpent morphs into one of several pieces, the default set being the Stealth Gryphon, the Anti-Gryphon, the Flying Bomber, the Raptor, the Super Cannon, and the Super Vao. Instead of moving during a turn, a side can make the Serpent mutate into another piece. This piece must enter the game as one of its mutating forms.

Once a side drops the Prince into the game, the opposing side cannot win by just checkmating the king. This is because the checkmated king will demote itself to a ninja pawn and the prince will take over as king! Thus this new king must be checkmated to secure a win. However, the prince can only become king if it is not currently under attack.

Like in Stealth Ninja Chess, a different drop zone is used to bring 4 ninja pawns into the game (1 per turn). A Ninja Pawn can enter via any 2nd rank squares. The pawn can be optionally pushed one to multiple spaces forward towards the center on the same move.

These new rules introduce a whole new dimension to the game and guarantee a great playing experience.

Board Setup

Holy Grail Start position Holy Grail Start position

Coordinates for white. (black mirrors white)
Champions on a1,j1
Rooks on b1,i1
Wazir Knight on c1
Ferz Knight on h1
Bishops on d1, g1
Queen on e1
King on f1
Battle Templars on e0,f0
Pawns from a2-j2

The Pieces

The Battle Templar

The Battle Templaris a color bound piece that can move one or leap two steps diagonally or leap 2 squares orthogonally. It can capture by replacement only on the square it lands. Note that it cannot move 1 step orthogonally.

The Champion (or Alfil/Wazir/Warmachine)

The Champion can move one or leap two steps orthogonally or leap 2 squares diagonally. It is the exact inverse of the Battle Templar. It can capture by replacement only on the square it lands. Note that it cannot move 1 step diagonally.

The Champion is not original to this game and was developed for Omega Chess.

The standard pawn

Moves exactly as in standard chess except:
The pawn can move from its original position either 1, 2 or 3 vacant squares forward. If it moved only 1 space originally or captured from original position, it can move forward two spaces towards the center.
see rules for more info.

The Ferz-Knight

  1. It can move one diagonal step in any direction.
  2. It can leap to any path traced out by one diagonal square followed by one orthogonal square outwards (135 degrees angle).
  3. It captures on the square it lands. Leaped over pieces are unaffected.

The Wazir-Knight

  1. It can move one orthogonal step in any direction.
  2. It can leap to any path traced out by one orthogonal square followed by one diagonally outwards (135 degrees angle).
  3. It captures on the square it lands. Leaped over pieces are unaffected.
*Note that the Wazir-knight and the Ferz-knight both leap to the same square like a standard knight.


While the above pieces alone can be used for a satisfactory game, play is enhanced by invoking the Drop Rule and dropping 4 Ninja Pawns, the Prince and the Mutating Serpent that mutates to the: Stealth Gryphon, Anti-Gryphon, Flying Bomber, Raptor, Super Cannon and Super Vao.

Drop Zone for Ninja Pawns: white - a2-j2   black - a9-j9.
Drop Zone for other pieces: white - e0 or f0   black - e11 or f11.

The Crown Prince

White Prince Black Prince The Crown Prince moves and captures exactly like a king: one step in any direction.
It can be captured just like a normal piece.
It is coronated only if the King is checkmated and it is not under attack.

The Ninja Pawn

white ninja pawn black ninja pawn The ninja pawn possesses slightly different modes of movement and capture depending on which half of the board it is on.

The ninja pawn can always move 1 square up or 1 square sideways to an empty square regardless of where it is situated on the board.

When the pawn is situated in the lower half of the board (for White, rank 0-5 and for black 11-6), it can move forward multiple vacant squares (1-3 squares) to reach the middle of the board (rank 5 for White or rank 6 for Black). This move can be done at any time regardless of how many times the pawn has moved. Thus White can on each turn move from e2-e3, e3-d3 and d3-d5.

Once it passes the middle, the ninja pawn can only move 1 square forward at a time, or move 1 square horizontally.

Like the standard pawn it can capture one square diagonally up, regardless of which half of the board it is on.
When the ninja pawn is on the top half of board (White rank 6 +, Black rank 5-) , it can also capture one square horizontally.

There is no en passant. It cannot capture another pawn or ninja pawn en passant nor can any other pawn capture it this way.

Promotion: The ninja pawn promotes on the last row (rank 10 for white, rank 1 for black), to any piece. Promotion to a piece is mandatory so it would cease to be a pawn in the last row.

The ninja pawn is not present at the start at the game and is dropped by the player into the drop zone, which are the 2nd row squares (row 9 for black, 2 for white). For example, the drop zone for white is a2-j2 and for black a9-j9.
The square must be vacant to drop the pawn. You can drop a pawn to check or to checkmate the opposing king A maximum of 4 ninja pawns (1 per turn) can be dropped by each side during a game.
After dropping a pawn, the player can optionally move the ninja pawn forward 1 or multiple squares towards the center on the same move. A capture or a side move is not permitted during the drop, so the player can just drop a pawn, or drop a pawn and move it 1-3 vacant squares towards the center.

In diagram, the black ninja pawn can go from e9-e6 or any other square in between or d9 or f9. The white pawn at f7 cannot capture it en passant

Lets say the white ninja pawn went from e3-f3 , it still has the option of shooting forward to the middle (f5) regardless of how many moves it made before. e.g. it can go e2-e3, then e3-f3 . It can now (see diagram) go f3-f5 if unobstructed.

The white ninja pawn at h9 can capture the bishop at i9 in addition to being able to go to g9 or to promote by going to h10.

The Mutating Serpent

Like a serpent that sheds its skin, only more drastic, this piece can take the shape of any of the following pieces.
It can only mutate during its side's turn, and mutating counts as a move.
It never reveals its true face, and must take the shape of one of its mutations when dropped.
Also, it must make a move as the previously mutated form before it can transform again. i.e you cannot keep tranforming from one mutation to the next without moving.

The Serpent's Mutations

The Stealth Gryphon

white Stealth Gryphon black Stealth Gryphon The Stealth Gryphon is a potentially powerful piece that can control multiple files and ranks if used effectively, and its awkward move can catch an unsuspecting opponent by surprise.
Movement/Capture by replacement: It must move along any unobstructed path (it cannot leap) of 1 square diagonally followed by 2 or more squares horizontally or vertically outwards. Thus, it can reach its destination square only one way but it can exert a powerful influence when not blocked.
The Achilles heel of the Gryphon (and the Anti-Gryphon) is its susceptibility to having its path blocked, and its vulnerability to close range attack.
Partial board shows white king on e0 and black Stealth Gryphon on h1. Red is "offboard".

Here the griffon is hampered by the edge of the board but still exerts great influence.
It controls the squares in yellow but it is not checking king because it needs to go one diagonal first and then 2 or more orthogonal outwards and there is no such path towards the king.

The Stealth Anti-Gryphon

white Anti-Gryphon black Anti-Gryphon The Stealth Anti-Gryphon is the exact inverse of the Stealth Gryphon, and so controls multiple diagonals.
Movement/Capture by replacement: It must move along any unobstructed path (it cannot leap) of 1 square horizontally or vertically followed by 2 or more squares diagonally outwards.
Partial board shows black Stealth Anti-Gryphon on e4. Note that it will control more squares on the actual board.

Anti-Gryphon shown controls the squares in yellow. Notice its long-range prowess but short-range vulnerability. Esp note how easily a piece can block its path.


The Cannon

white Cannon black  Cannon Movement: When not capturing the Cannon moves like a rook.
Capturing: The Cannon just as in Xiangqi needs an intervening piece called the screen to make a capture. The screen can be either a friendly or enemy piece and must lie between the cannon and the target enemy piece for a capture to take place.
With a friendly screen, the Super Cannon captures the enemy piece by leaping over the screen and landing on the target's square.

The Flying Bomber

white Flying Bomber black Flying Bomber Movement: When not capturing it moves exactly like a rook (1 or more squares orthogonally over a clear path).
It can also jump two squares orthogonally by leaping over an adjacent piece.
Capturing: The flying bomber eliminates an enemy piece by flying towards it along an unobstructed orthogonal path, and landing on THE empty square immediately after it. It cannot capture if this square is occupied nor can it capture a second piece.
The exception to above: the flying bomber can capture by replacement any enemy piece that is 2 squares away. Thus, it can jump over a friendly piece to make a capture 2 spaces away.
If, instead, there is one empty square between the Flying Bomber and the enemy piece, the Bomber can either capture by landing two squares away on the target's square or use the standard method of capturing by landing on empty square immediately after target.
If there is one enemy piece adjacent to it and another immediately after on same line, the flying bomber combines both capture mechanisms to makes a double capture as it lands 2 squares away. Note that when it makes this jump under above conditions capturing both pieces is mandatory.

The Raptor

The Raptor is an exact diagonal version of the Flying Bomber.
When not capturing, it moves exactly like the bishop.
To capture, it flies towards its prey along an unobstructed diagonal path and lands on the square immediately after it.
Additionally, like the Flying Bomber, it can make a special move by jumping over a diagonally adjacent friendly piece.
Similarly, it can also capture by landing on the same square as an enemy piece exactly two square away diagonally.
If an empty space separates the Raptor from its prey, then it can capture by replacement on target's square, or if possible, capture by landing on the empty square immediately after.
If there is a friendly piece between the Raptor and its prey, the Raptor can only capture by replacement.
If there is one enemy piece adjacent to it and another immediately after on same diagonal line, the raptor takes out both pieces and lands 2 squares away.

The Vao

White Super Vao Black Super Vao The exact diagonal equivalent of the Cannon. It moves passively like a Bishop and can capture an enemy piece only by leaping over an intervening piece.  


The rules in Holy Grail are the same as in chess except for the following modifications :
  1. Castling: Unlike standard Chess, castling is flexible with the king able to travel 1, 2, 3, or 4 squares towards the rook.
    There are 7 possible castling positions, the most extreme wing castling involves the king relocating to the b or i file. The choice of castling positions will depend on whether it is immediately necessary for the king to be tucked away at the wing or for the rook to be centralized.
    The usual castling criteria apply: No piece can occupy the spaces travelled by the king and castling rook. Cannot castle out of check. King cannot pass over or land on squares attacked by enemy, but rook can.
    1. 1 space transposition - King Side Castling
      White moves King one space from f1-g1 and rook from i1-f1
      Black moves King one space from f10-g10 and rook from i10-f10
    2. 1 space transposition - Queen Side Castling
      White moves King one space from f1-e1 and rook from b1-f1
      Black moves King one space from f10-e10 and rook from b10-f10
    3. 2 space transposition - King Side Castling
      White moves King two spaces from f1-h1 and rook from i1-g1
      Black moves King two spaces from f10-h10 and rook from i10-g10
    4. 2 space transposition - Queen Side Castling
      White moves King two spaces from f1-d1 and rook from b1-e1
      Black moves King two spaces from f10-d10 and rook from b10-e10
    5. 3 space transposition - King Side Castling
      White moves King three spaces from f1-i1 and rook from i1-h1
      Black moves King three spaces from f10-i10 and rook from i10-h10
    6. 3 space transposition - Queen Side Castling
      White moves King three spaces from f1-c1 and rook from b1-d1
      Black moves King three spaces from f10-c10 and rook from b10-d10
    7. 4 space transposition - Queen Side Castling
      White moves King four spaces from f1-b1 and rook from b1-c1
      Black moves King four spaces from f10-b10 and rook from b10-c10
    8. Any other piece can occupy j1, j10, a10 or a1 during castling.
  2. Pawn Movement: The pawn can move from its original position either 1, 2 or 3 vacant squares forward.
    A pawn, which initially moved forward 1 square or captured from its starting position, can subsequently at any time move forward 1 or 2 vacant squares. Once it reaches the center of the board (rank 5 for white, rank 6 for black), it can move forward only one square at a time.
    Some examples: the white pawn at f2 can start f2-f5 or it can move f2-f4 then f4-f5, or f2-f3 followed by f3-f5, or move f2-g3 to capture enemy piece at g3 followed by g3-g5 next time it moves.
  3. En Passant: If a Pawn moves two or three squares initially and passes an enemy Pawn on the 4th or 5th rank, it may be captured en passant by the enemy pawn.
    E.g. White pawn on a2 black pawn on b4. White pawn moves a2 - a4 (or a5), black pawn on b4 can capture it as if it had moved to a3.
    Similarly, black pawn on b5 and white pawn moves a2 - a5, then black pawn can capture the white pawn as if it moved to a4. Note in this case the white pawn can still avoid the black pawn by moving to a3 instead.
    If a pawn slides forward 2 squares on its second move, it can also be captured en passant by an opposing pawn on the fifth rank. E.g. white pawn on a3 and black pawn on b5. White plays a3-a5, black pawn on b5 can capture the pawn en passant by moving to a4.
    Capturing en passant is optional unless it is the only legal move available. The capture must be made on the next move.
  4. Pawn promotion: Pawns can now promote to: Queen, Bishop, Wazir Knight, Ferz Knight, Rook, Champion, Templar, Prince or Serpent on the 10th rank only. If a player promotes to another Prince then that too will have to be checkmated if it Crowns successfully.

Reinforcement Rule - Dropping pieces

Players have the option to drop pieces during the game.

Crowning the Prince / Winning Conditions

Just as in chess a side wins by checkmating the opposite king. This still holds as long as the opposing side has not dropped the prince or if its prince has been captured.
If however, there is an un-attacked prince on board, then that side will demote its king to a ninja pawn and promote its prince to a king. This crowning process constitutes one move for that side, and now this new king has to be checkmated by the opposite side.
The only way around this is to checkmate the king before the prince is dropped, to capture the prince prior to checkmate or to checkmate the king and attack the prince simultaneously.

The Demoted Ninja Pawn

The demoted ninja pawn will attain its usual powers depending on its location. Therefore if the king is checkmated on the upper half of the board, the ninja pawn can capture sideways.
If the king is checkmated on the promotion zone, the ninja pawn can only promote on its next move and it MUST make a move or capture to promote. Thus, a king now demoted to ninja pawn on d10 must move/capture on next turn to c10 or e10 or make a capture on e11 to promote. A ninja pawn can promote on the squares e11, f11 or e0, f0 under these special circumstances if it can get there. Normally this is impossible since the pawn must promote on the 10th rank, but now the checkmated king on say e10 becomes a ninja pawn and on next turn moves to e11 to promote.


IF the king is stalemated then it is a draw just as in orthodox chess regardless of if there is a prince on board or not.
If the king is checkmated, and the Prince is crowned, then if on the next turn (Crowning the prince is one turn), the newly crowned King cannot move without being captured, then it is stalemate (as in usual rules) and the game is drawn. Note though that the attacking side gets another turn after the checkmate.

Interesting Notes

Play the Game!

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Subvariations / Alternative Mutations

It is advisable for players to start of with the recommended pieces: Board 1 with ability to drop 4 ninja pawns, Prince and Serpent that mutates to Stealth Gryphon, Anti-Gryphon, Super Vao, Super Cannon, Flying Bomber and Raptor.
Those not in favour of checkmating two kings can play an excellent game without the prince i.e. Just drop 4 ninja pawns and the Mutating Serpent.
Similarly, players can even play without any drops at all or by just dropping 4 ninja pawns.

Recommended: 4 ninja pawns, a Prince and a Serpent Mutator with standard mutation morphs into Stealth Gyrphon, Anti-Gyrphon, Super Vao, Super Cannon, Flying Bomber and Raptor.
4 ninja pawns, and a Serpent Mutator. No crown prince
Experimental Use: 4 ninja pawns, a Prince, a Serpent Mutation that morphs into additional mutations: Insane Ninja Ice Queen and a Buffalo
This much wilder game uses one or more of the following mutations in addition to the default set.

Full Powered Gryphons

Instead of the Stealth Gryphon and Anti-Gryphon, the fullpowered versions of those pieces can be used. For example, the Gryphon can move to 1 step diagonal and/or any number of orthogonal spaces outwards. Similar for the Aanca - the full version of the Anti-Gryphon.

Insane Ninja

The Insane Ninja possesses both dual mode movement and dual mode capture capabilities.

Insane Ninja Ice Queen

This piece move exactly like Insane Ninja above but it also possesses the power to freeze any piece that comes within its range.

The Buffalo

The Buffalo moves in three ways, capturing on the square it lands:

Alternative Setup

The templars and champions can switch positions- thus the champions will occupy the rear squares and the templars will occupy the wing positions.

Older Version

In the earlier version, the Ferz Knight and Wazir knights were just standard knights and were much weaker.
Cliker here to play the older version of Holy Grail!

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Posted by: chessvar on 2013-01-22 19:19:48     Rating: Excellent
Yes, it is!
Posted by: Holy sh@ on 2008-04-30 19:33:49     Rating: Excellent
Isn't this blasphemy?