~ Laughing Jester Chess ~


"This is one laughing matter."


introA Chess variant by Simon Edward Jepps, based on Jester Chess by Masters Games.

Then, I laughed. In fact I laughed so much tears ran down my cheeks. I laughed until I split my sides. My coffee cup was laughing too. My Buddha statue was laughing. Gandhi was laughing. Even my Orangutan Dwongo was laughing. Everyone was laughing.

The very Chess pieces I had been playing with all these years were themselves the secret to my quest. I was not just seeking the evolution of Chess, I was seeking my own happiness. After a lifetime of study, experimentation and work, only to retire my inventions to the "Ok while it lasted bin", things were getting serious. Life was getting serious. I no longer only wanted to play Chess... what I wanted now, more than anything else in the world... was to laugh.

I have always liked the Jester piece. Really, I have. Yet it always bugged me that it would never allow you to plan ahead. For it had no move of its own.

So I set up the Jester Chess pieces as they were meant to be, decided by their inventors many years ago and sat there, patiently, staring the Jester in his face, while he laughed at mine.

Then, I smiled.

Jester Chess by Masters Games has two styles of play. The first is to play the Jester as itself, an "imitator" of others. The second is to play the Jester as a "two square Rook" with its first move being like a Queen, allowing you to plan.

The idea occurred to me, why not combine those abilities? After all a Jester isn't truly a Jester unless it mimicks and a Chess piece isn't truly a Chess piece unless it allows you to plan ahead.

This would create a whole brand new piece and philosophy.

Then, after reading through my historic archive of variants I had invented, I found an element of a previous game that would complement and seal this new creation.

The Pawn.

The purpose of a Jester? To entertain and make people laugh. It was about the people... the Pawns.

I was a Pawn in my own war and my friend, the Jester, was laughing for a reason.

The Laughing Jester spoke, "We're all Pawns you know, even I."

The Laughing Jester

laughing jester
  • Moves AND captures two squares orthogonally or one square diagonally; or, moves BUT not capture, like the last piece that moved, imitating its abilities.
  • It may jump any piece situated on its nearest orthogonal square.
  • Any Pawn defended by a Jester may move but not capture one square orthogonally.

Hence its name, "Laughing Jester Chess".

The Laughing Jester may move 3 squares forward when mimicking a Pawn only if it is the Laughing Jester's first move also.

A Laughing Jester does not mimick a Laughing Jester, it merely moves as itself.

The Laughing Jester is notated with a "JL", as opposed to "LJ" since this portrays the feet and tall standing of a classic Jester.

Notes on the Laughing Jester
  • Why does the Laughing Jester move in this way? When analysing a Chess board, you see all the naturally designed moves are already assigned to pieces and this is one reason grandmasters have such difficulty agreeing on a new piece design. So the objective within the Laughing Jester's creation, was to ascertain a naturally relating movement pattern. "We're all Pawns you know, even I," said the Laughing Jester and this is the secret to its movement. During the Opening and Middlegame one will realise that the easiest way to move about the Chess board is diagonally, rather than horizontally or vertically. Since the "Jester" itself already has a strong power, that being imitation, it would be wrong to give such a powerful piece an additional absolute movement, which encompasses open scope of the entire diagonal field. For this reason it moves only one square diagonally but two squares orthogonally. Yet, this is not the only reason for its movement. These movements also represent its relation to the people, the "Pawns", in that they move in a similar fashion. Furthermore, the squares of its field portray the hands and feet of a Jester's character and its ability to jump portrays its playful attitude about the world.
  • A classical "Jester" may capture when mimicking, however the Laughing Jester may not and the reason for this is quite logical. Capture through imitation enshrines a piece as almost immortal, since it can capture any undefended piece attacking it without any complications. For example, a Bishop attacking a Rook is safe from return fire, since the Rook cannot move diagonally, but a Jester can move diagonally through imitation. Since the Laughing Jester has its own absolute movement pattern, whereas a standard Jester does not, herewith, the additional power of capture through imitation would only destroy the balance of the game. Furthermore, the principle itself of capture through imitation is flawed anyway, for it creates arguments as to whether a King has been placed in Check. The Laughing Jester thence is a more clearly understood piece.
  • The ability of a Pawn to move orthogonally whence defended by a Laughing Jester sounds somewhat dangerous, as if a chaotic carnage of mayhem is to suffocate the board. However, no. As will be explained in the next section about Set Up, employing orthogonal movement may often actually be more likely to disrupt your own carefully planned Opening strategy of Pawn placement, and thus, players are unlikely to employ this themselves unless absolutely beneficial.
  • People dislike the "Jester" for its deviance from Classical Chess, but then on the other hand perhaps the literally "colourful" playability of its nature is where the grey cloudy dogma between Black and White can embrace a rainbow of happiness. It is a piece of taste and I believe the Laughing Jester to be where the "Jester" was always truly headed.
  • The standard "Jester" has no absolute move of its own and often demonstrates a self redundancy on the board. The Laughing Jester not only brings the piece on par with the rest of the set, but creates a new dimension of Chess psychology.
  • The Laughing Jester is a very powerful piece, indeed, but that power is not absolute in any sense of the word. Most often the Chess pieces moved are Pawns, Knights and Bishops, so the reality of the Laughing Jester to pose as an omnipowerful party crasher is a non truth in practise.
  • In Chess we create plans based on decisions about moves made, thus most of the time a player will be creating Laughing Jester plans based only on its own absolute movement and not imitation ideas that overwork the mind. Therefore one's opponent likewise won't be calculating such infinite formulas all the time, for fear of overlooking something mainstream. In this respect, the Laughing Jester sanctifies itself as a true companion to the Classical game.

Set Up

set upThe Laughing Jesters are positioned either side of the King and Queen, whilst the standard Chess pieces are positioned as usual.

Pawns promote as in classical Chess when they reach the 0th or 1st rank, however they may only promote to a piece available from the set ~ there are no double Queens.

The board is positioned with the black corner square to the player's right hand. This enables a classical setup with the Queen on her own coloured square.

Pawns may move 1, 2, or 3 squares forward on their first move, but only one thereafter, unless they have returned to their home rank by aid of the Jester. In which case and to clarify, a Pawn may always move a maximum of three squares forward from its home rank. This permission always and only applies to their home rank, thus from ranks 1 or 0 they may still only move one square forward.

En passant is only legal if the Pawn advancing 2 or more squares lands adjacent to the enemy Pawn.

Knights, like the Pawns, have a first move enhancement, in that optionally they may move as per Knight Templar, 3,1 or 1,3, to help get them into the game. Else they can just move regularly, 2,1 or 1,2.

Since the Laughing Jester may move 3 squares forward on its first move when mimicking a Pawn, likewise the Laughing Jester may also move as per Knight Templar on its first move, when mimicking a Knight.

Castling requires the King to move 3 squares in either direction, as opposed to the standard of only two in Classical Chess.
Notes on Setup
  • As a point of study, 100 square setups present issues with Pawn placement during the Opening stages and also the Middlegame. Most significantly, the creation of vast spaces or "holes" in one's defense which are open to exploitation. Laughing Jester Chess provides a remedy for this ailment and that is the earlier mentioned ability to move a Pawn one square orthogonally. Allowing this equips players with the scope to replenish Pawns in areas of the board which are uncomfortably open.
    • Yet fear not this day a carnage of Pawn mayhem, for employing orthogonal movement may often actually be more likely to disrupt your own carefully planned Opening strategy of Pawn placement. Thus, this ability is more often likely to be employed at the Middlegame, or moreso, the Endgame.

Buy Laughing Jester Chess

jester chessLaughing Jester Chess by Simon Edward Jepps is a variant of Jester Chess by Masters Games.

Their Jester Chess sets are exquisitely crafted from genuine timber, available in a selection of designs and include a selection of deluxe similarly exquisite 100 square wooden boards.

Masters Games Jester Chess Store

Good news is they sell both the boards and pieces separately.


YllwChlk my Wordpress blog, hosts a category for Laughing Jester Chess, an online library project of studies and discussions.


Zipadee Do Dah!

The Laughing Jester Chess ZIP folder contains this site document in PDF format, a selection of template images for player correspondence and also some LJC contact information.

Download Laughing Jester Chess

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Part of Yllw Chlk my blog.