Janus Chess, created by Werner Schöndorf of Bildstock, Germany, in 1978, is a captivating chess variant. Its distinctive gameplay unfolds on a 10×8 board and introduces a remarkable fairy chess piece called the janus. The janus piece possesses the combined movement abilities of both a bishop and a knight. The name of this unique chess piece draws inspiration from the Roman deity Janus, renowned for being depicted with two faces gazing in opposing directions.
In Janus Chess, an expansion upon the traditional chess set, each player’s collection of pieces is supplemented by two additional pawns and two januses. These janus pieces are positioned between a rook and a knight. Notably, the arrangement of the king and queen is reversed in comparison to standard chess. Following a castling move, the king finds its place on either the b- or i-file, while a rook is positioned on either the c- or h-file, depending on the chosen direction of castling.
Watch the following video to see the starting position and a typical gameplay: