Rollerball Chess

Rollerball Chess

Rollerball was a science-fiction movie in the 70's about an imaginary sport game where two teams from a World urban league were fighting on a skating ring . The players were running after each other and their clashes were violent and rough like in American football. This chessgame tries to retrieve the idea.

Rollerball chess has an entry in D.B.Pritchard's "The Classified Encyclopedia of Chess Variants" (2007).

Rollerball has been invented by Jean-Louis Cazaux.


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The rules

Board and pieces

The board in a double ring of 40 squares made from a 7 x 7 with a 3 x 3 hole in the center. There is an inner ring and a outer ring. Also, it is convenient to see 4 zones, South, West, North and East.

Each side has 6 pieces only: 1 King, 1 Bishop, 2 Rooks and 2 Pawns.

White plays first.

All captures are by displacement as for Chess.

Moves and Rules

The play is mostly clockwise: generally speaking, the pieces move mainly ahead and have only limited motion backward. At every corner of the board, the pieces rotate 90°. Details follow.

All pieces change their orientation (rotating 90° clockwise) when they land on a corner or bend space (a1, b2, a7, b6, g7, f6, g1, f2).


The King moves and captures exactly as in Orthochess to any adjacent square but never to a square where it can be captured. It is the only piece to have a symmetric move.


The Rook slides any number of squares forward or sideways along the row or column. Also, it can move 1 square only orthogonally backward. It never slides backward. On the external ring, they have one rebound allowed on the corners of the board.


The Bishop slides diagonally forward any number of squares with one rebound allowed on the sides, external and internal, of the board. Also, it can move 1 square diagonally backward. It never slides diagonally backward.

One may note that the white diagonals are forming another ring joining the mid-points of the external sides. The Bishop is very powerful there.

(It can go to a2 only if it goes through b1)


The Pawn moves and captures forward straight or diagonally. When reaching the starting square of opposite Pawns it promotes to either a Rook or a Bishop. (Promotion to a Bishop upon dark squares is not recommended)

(b1 is ahead when Pawn is on c2)

(b2 is sideway when Pawn is on b1 because it has not turned yet)

(b2 is ahead when Pawn is on a1, because it has turned)

End of the Game

There are 2 ways to win the game:

  • Ckeckmate the opposite King
  • When the King reaches the starting square of the opposite King, but only if had turned clockwise.

Pat is a draw. A 3 times repetition also.


Modern Circular Chess

Modern Circular Chess

Inspired by the chess variant played in Byzance in 10th Century AD, this circular chess is an adaptation using modern piece movements.


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There are several Circular chess variants.

This version is known as Modern Circular Chess.

Each player commands a classical chess 16 pieces set:

  • 1 king
  • 1 queen
  • 2 rooks
  • 2 bishops
  • 2 knights
  • 8 pawns

Initial setup

Pieces moves

The moves are identical to orthodox chess moves adapted to circular topology.

Dispite this ring topology, Queens and rooks are not allowed to move to the position they are leaving.

There is no castling.

Pawns have double step start possibility. There is no "En passant" capture. Promotion is on the opponent start line (6 cells ahead from pawn start position)

Please see the move diagrams below.

For more details and references, please access the Wikimedia Circular Chess page.


Glińsky's hexagonal chess

Glińsky's hexagonal chess


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Glińsky's chess is a hexagonal chess variant played on a 91 hexagonal cells board.

Rules were invented in 1936 by Władysław Gliński.

Each player commands 18 pieces

  • 1 king
  • 1 queen
  • 2 rooks
  • 3 bishops
  • 2 knights
  • 9 pawns

Initial setup

There is no castling. Stalemate is not a draw but counted less than a checkmate.

Pieces moves

The King

The Queen

The Bishop

The Rook

The Knight

The Pawn

Double step from starting position if possible. If a pawn captures from its starting cell to another pawn starting cell, it keeps its double cell start ability for another turn. See crosses for captures. "En passant" captures are possible.


Jocly SDK: one step beyond to openness

Jocly SDK: one step beyond to openness

Of course you can just play on Jocly, but that's just a part of it.  

The Jocly toolbox has matured. It now includes a powerful jQuery plugin, a Code Inspector and a Wiki.

Whether you are an expert developer or a simple HTML novice, we will see below you can:

- embed any game in your page

- modify or even create a game

The Jocly jQuery plugin

First of all let us introduce our brand new jQuery plugin. It's really easy to use and is the foundation of it all.

With 4 little lines of code you can embed any game. 

3 lines in your <head> section:

    <link rel="stylesheet" href="jquery.jocly.min.css">

    <script src=""></script>

    <script src="jquery.jocly.min.js"></script>

and 1 line in the <body> of your page:

    <div data-jocly data-jocly-init='["localPlay","classic-chess"]'></div>

Et voilà!

That's the easiest way to do it (see tutorial) but you will see you can have full control of your game widgets.

A Code Inspector

If you want to go deeper you can use our Code Inspector to go through the code of all the games.


Thanks to the jQuery plugin, you can now change parameters, drive your widget and its options, start editing a brilliant game site or blog. See demos and tutorials.

You can use more advanced features like game analysis with a full PJN(PGN/PDN) editor/viewer.

Create all the game pages you need to build a complete dedicated site. We are proud to announce that the new site chose Jocly for playing and games analysis.

You can customize your pieces and the game environment. You can load a "local" pieces set from your own site (see tutorial)

Depending on your skills and your needs, you can choose from very simple embedding to advanced game modification, or creation.

If you sell real games like Cyningstan, you can simply embed online versions of these games to make your site more attractive.

Jocly Wiki

We now have a great place to share: our own wiki.

Here you will find resources for your games. Check it now:

In this wiki we share our graphic resources (boards, pieces, drawings,...), plus our knowledge and processes. Demos and tutorials are available to make brand new games or variants of famous games like chess which has more than 2.000 variants but very few opportunities to play them online. It’s time now to bring them to life!

Keep growing

Every day people are joining the adventure like the kickstarter project 360 chess, or some other creators of brand new games like Tix.

This wiki also aims to be a collaborative place where designers, CG artists and developers can meet to unite their skills for any game project.

One of the very last integration: Jean-Louis Cazaux added our 3D version of his amazing Shako to his site.

Shako (Unified Chess)

Shako (Unified Chess)

Shako is a new Chess variant to be played on a 10x10 boards (international draughts board).

It was Created in 1990 by Jean-Luc Cazaux, and it is now online on Jocly:

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The name Shako means Chess in Esperanto, another kind of non-conformism and utopia . The idea is to make a new game without directly disposing the large heritage of the classical game. All rules of orthodox chess are kept, and the way the pieces are placed in the opening setup allows players to follow practically all the openings used for usual chess. One new pieces are taken from Xiangqi (Chinese Chess), with the intention to bring back together the two branches of the game that went of from India either east to the Orient, and west to the Arabs. The second new piece is taken from Shatranj and mediaeval Chess in order to bridge with a prestigious past.

In addition to orthodox chess you will discover 2 new pieces: the Elephant and the Cannon.

The Cannon

When not capturing, it moves just like the Rook. But to capture a piece, there must be one additional piece in its path which the Cannon jumps over before landing on the piece being captured. This intervening piece may belong to either player. The cannon may not jump over more than one piece to make its capture, and may not jump over pieces when not capturing.

The Elephant

The Elephant steps diagonally one or two squares, leaping over the intermediate square if it is occupied.

All other pieces move like in orthodox chess; also castling is as in usual chess. Pawns promote on the tenth row of the board to Queen, Rook, Knight, Bishop, Elephant, or Cannon, to the owning players choice. Other rules are as in orthodox chess.

White starts to play.


(As viewed in 2D skin)

We made this cheat sheet for you:


Xiangqi - Chinese chess

Xiangqi - Chinese chess

Xiangqi, the popular chinese chess, is the most played strategy board game in the world, even if it is not well known in the West.


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We made a western version for those who are not familar with chinese version.

If you don't know Xiangqi you will have to learn the pieces and their behavior. Rules are enclosed with the game but we made a cheat sheet to help you (see below).

You can watch this video if you prefere

You can also read the Xiangqi Wikipedia page for more details.


Two opponents called Black and Red.

To win you have to checkmate the General of your opponent.


The board is a 9x10 grid but is virtually divided into 2 fields separated by a river. Each field has a palace.

Pieces’ positions are called points defined by line intersections.


for each team:

  • 1 general (king)
  • 2 advisors
  • 2 elephants (= minister for red)
  • 2 cannons
  • 2 chariots (rooks)
  • 2 horses (knights)
  • 5 soldiers (pawns)

We made a western set of pieces for players who might not be familiar with the traditional chinese version. From left to right: General, Advisor, Horse, Elephant, Chariot, Cannon, Soldier. (red and black pieces are different in the traditional set, not in the western set)

Initial setup

Pieces actions and properties

(cheat sheet available below)

  • General: moves and captures 1 point orthogonally and can not leave his palace. Exception: if no pieces between them, the general captures the opponents general if they are on the same line.
  • Advisors: move and capture 1 point diagonally. Can’t leave the palace. This makes only 5 available positions.
  • Elephants: move and capture exactly 2 points diagonally. Can’t jump over pieces. Can’t cross the river. This makes only 7 available positions.
  • Horses: move and capture 1 orthogonally, then one diagonally away from its former position. Can’t jump over pieces.
  • Chariots: move and capture any number of points orthogonally. Can’t jump over pieces.
  • Cannons: move like chariots but not for capture. Can’t jump over pieces. Exception: the cannon can only capture by jumping over one and only one piece on its orthogonal way to its target.
  • Soldiers (pawns): move and capture 1 point forward. Once he has crossed the river, the soldier can also move and capture 1 point horizontally but not backwards. This is the only possible promotion in the game.

Jocly Xiangqi cheat sheet

(A higher resolution is available on our wiki)

Available skins

2D skins are available for all, 3D skins need WebGL so please use Chrome or Firefox.

3D Classic

3D Wall

3D Western

3D Western Wall

2D Classic

2D Western


Makruk - Thai chess

Makruk - Thai chess

Makruk is a popular chess variant born and played in Thailand.


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Pieces are the same as in International Chess but shapes are very unusual for western players and some pieces have different moves: the queen (much weaker) and the bishop (limited moves). Please see our cheat sheet below to understand these differences.

(The detailed rules are available on the Makruk Wikipedia page)

Here is a view of the initial setup in the 2D version of the board

Courier chess

Courier Chess

Courier Chess is a 12x8 board variant of chess probably created in the 12th century, in Germany.

The game would have survived until the beginning of the 19th century in Germany and some neighbouring countries.

Some say Courier Chess created the modern bishop moves: unlimited diagonals. Before this the so called Medieval Bishop (Archer in Courier chess) was moving like an Alfil (Elephant): two squares diagonally, leaping the first square.

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It has been a lot of fun to recreate in 3D the board as it looks in the famous painting from 1508 the Chess Players by Lucas van Leyden. This amazing board looks like this:

And here is the 2D version:

The rules are available with the game but you can also watch this video from Rick Knowlton (

If you discover the game, we made a cheat sheet to help you remember these new strange pieces names and moves.

Jocly Courier Chess Cheat Sheet

Courier chess is the first of a long series to come of chess variants. We rebuilt a highly configurable game engine so that anyone can build any chess variant with his rules and pieces. Game experts, players, designers, inventors, webmasters,... everybody should enjoy. We'll talk about this very soon!

Lighter, Faster, Prettier #webgl #3d #performances #threejs

Lighter, Faster, Prettier #webgl #3d #performances #threejs

We just released our new chess games for which we've worked a lot on rendering optimization. The previous version of the game was ok but too heavy in terms of device resources.

We would like to share our progress on this issue made in the last few months.

Our 3D games use the brilliant Threejs library for webgl.

To create 3D pieces, we follow this main process:

  1. design and create objects in blender
  2. export the object with the Threejs exporter to produce a javascript file.
  3. import piece in game using THREE.JSONLoader
  4. modify geometry and materials to suit our needs

The contraint we have is to minimize the size of the JS files, and the "weight" of the objects in the 3D scene.

All vertices, normals and UVs are included in the javascript file. If we model a high quality mesh in blender, it will export a huge file.

Low resolution meshes lead to ugly objects. It depends on the shapes needed of course, if we have very geometric pieces like cubes, it's not a problem. But if we consider complex geometries like chess pieces, we need to have good looking curves and shapes.

The old way

We decided to design low poly meshes to get small files, always keeping in mind we would smooth them once loaded in the scene. Let's use the knight example to explain.

We do not apply the smooth modifier in blender, that would produce a much too big file, but it's just to have an idea of what it will look like in the game after Threejs smooth modifier is applied to loaded geometry. (blender and threejs smooth modifiers are not the same but will look similar)

In the game we load the pieces' javascript files and modify the materials to have a white and a black version. It looks like this:


Not bad we thought. The problem is that these repeated smoothing modifications make the polygone counters go too high (about 300 000 faces in this version), the game becomes "heavy" if we choose a 2 subdivisions smoothing, and not pretty enough if we only make a 1 level smoothing. We had to find new solutions.

The new way

We want low poly meshes but higly detailed rendering. There is a miracle solution: normal maps. Interested in going deeper? Read this.

The idea is to keep low poly structure, i.e. small number of faces, but we will simulate details of volume by artificial normal information: a map will tell the graphic engine how to simulate the normal for each point. This is some kind of volumes texture. The orientation of the normal for every point is given by blueish pseudo colors information and looks like this:

But how can we get these details information? We will take them from real volumes: the high level mesh. So go back to blender and enjoy modeling your object with all the finest details you want. Once your beautifull piece is finished, we will make a second piece, a low poly version which will be as close as possible to the main bounding shapes of the high res one. We call this retopolgy: here is a tutorial for blender

It was great fun to redesign a typical chess game inspired by "staunton" chess set. I will not insist on this part, modeling + texturing, classical stuff in 3D.

Next step: retopologize the pieces to low polygone.

Once all this is done, we need to compute our normal maps. For this, we have to unwrap the UVs which determine how textures are applied on the 3d object surfaces. An expert would have optimized this much better than me :)

Now we have our final object and its UVs, we can compute its diffuse and normal maps. There is a process for that which is called baking textures. Carefully set up lights and materials for the high res object. It is the result of its full rendering that we will steal to project on the low poly mesh (for more details, here is a texture baking tutorial).

The enlighted diffuse map and the normal light reflection information will give your low poly mesh a highly detailed great look and the result is pretty amazing.

To summarize:

We need to create the high poly piece with all details and textures

This is done with high subdivision level

which means tons of polygones

Then we retoplogize by creating a new object, a low poly optimized mesh (the final object we need) very close to the high poly.

Unwrap UVs and bake textures. First start with the diffuse chanel:


then the normals chanel

In your javascript code, you will have to load the JS file which includes:

  1. the topology of the object (vertices, faces)
  2. the UVs (texture mapping)

Then load diffuse and normal maps (images), and finally create materials and mesh to add to the scene.

To give you an idea, the code looks like this

As a result, the total scene faces counter has been divided by 10! And we believe the result is even prettier that the first version because we were able to work deeper in 1st step modeling and texturing.

We hope you agree with us :)

You can see the result live: play chess now!

New Jocly Chess module

New Jocly Chess module

No game more than chess has ever motivated software developers to write smart code. The main reason for that is the game’s popularity: Chess has been around for 1500 years, enough time to impregnate human’s culture. Nowadays, over 600 million people in the world play chess regularly (roughly 2.5 times the number of Twitter active users), 70% of adults have played Chess in their life. The first fully-fledged computer program was written in 1957, since then, many implementations have been developed, either on dedicated devices or general purpose computers.

When we first initiated Jocly, Chess was not really a goal: there are thousands of sites dedicated to Chess on the Web and numerous Chess programs of high quality. Would have Jocly brought value to this area ? However, when it comes to talking about what Jocly does, you generally end up with something like “... you know, for games like Chess”. So what if Jocly wouldn’t have supported Chess ?

So we implemented Chess in Jocly early and quickly, as a matter of fact, too early and too quickly. The original version was able to play the game by the rules and offered a nice way for kids to learn how to play (and we received many thanks for that), but it was not able to offer a decent opponent to anyone who was not an absolute beginner, unless setting the computer level to take a long time picking each move.

However, we realized that Chess was popular on Jocly: when visitors discover the site, this is generally one of the few games they know the rules of. So we had to improve it and we did so.

Moreover, our implementation made shortcuts that tied the code to orthodox Chess, that is on a 8x8 board with pieces movements being what they are. However, if you look around, you’ll easily find out that Chess holds many variants. Some where the precursors of regular Chess, like Shatranj, some have been played in Eastern countries for many centuries, like Shogi or Xiangqi, some have been invented last week. The book The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants from David Pritchard, written in 1994 describes 1400 variants, since then, you can easily bet that 500 more have come to life. So we needed Jocly to be able to take care of all those rules.

So we are very proud to introduce our new Jocly Chess module to the world.

For now, we’ll only release the orthodox Chess game (the one you already know), other variants will follow soon.

Please, do not expect our artificial intelligence to compete with the best computer AIs, for 3 reasons:

  • it is implemented in Javascript, which is an interpreted language relatively far from the computer CPU
  • we implemented a generic chess engine in order to support many rules, this disallowed some software optimisations
  • we prefer to use our time on Jocly developing new games, adding features and improving the user interface rather than spending a life-time gaining a few ELO points on a single game already well covered by many others

However, if you are an average player in Chess, chances are that you will find much fun on a balanced game without having to wait too much for the computer’s answer.

The Artificial Intelligence is not the only improvement in the new Chess module. One of the common criticism on the original implementation was that the 3D interface was taking too much of the machine resources. As we improved a lot in this area, the new implementation takes benefit of smart texturing techniques bringing the total number of polygons to 20,000 (against 250,000 for the previous version) for a result that is visually better. Here is a "behind the scene" post about our WebGL optimizations hard work.

The new Chess game comes with 2 3D and 3 2D skins. Of course, if your computer/tablet/smartphone and browser are not WebGL-enabled, you will have only access to the 2D skins.

The alternative 3d skin is called "3D Flat pieces" which includes wooden extruded pieces.

The 3 2D skins look like this:

To change the skin, go to options (bottom left of the player)

and select the one you want.

Enjoy playing Chess on Jocly and do not hesitate to give us feedback !


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