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It is generally believed that the game of chess first appeared in India nearly 1,400 years ago. Imported into Europe in the Middle-Ages, it saw many of its rules change over time. Today, the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (World Chess Federation) founded in Paris in 1924 sets the so-called “Laws of Chess”. For all practical intent, they are simply the rules that had become popular in Western Europe at the time. And it can be said that many chess players, some of them grandmasters, do not agree with some of those rules.

A game of chess initially developed to address personal concerns about the rules has slowly evolved until it became a full variation of the game called “Chess 99”. The most obvious difference is that it is played on a 9x9 board, hence the name, and a new piece has been added, the “paladin”, named for a military leader in medieval times. The paladin combines the movement of the knight and the bishop which makes him the second most powerful piece of the game after the queen. In this chess variant, the paladin is represented by a somewhat taller and “fancier” knight wearing a cross similar to that seen on the bishop.


The first mention of a chess variant with a piece that moves like a knight and a bishop goes back to the 17th century and it was originally called a centaur. In modern variations of the game, such a piece has been called a paladin, an archbishop, a cardinal, and even a prime minister.


The larger board and the extra piece are not the only changes made to the game. Since the primary goal of this exercise was to address concerns regarding the rules, it naturally follows that some of the rules were modified but by and large they were simply restored to their original form. It can then be said that while Chess 99 does retain, in one form or another, all of the more modern features of chess, it is essentially played by the ancient rules.

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