The Venice rules were the first formalized rules for Human Combat Chess competition in the western world, written by Girolamo Priuli , the Doge of Venice in 1567.  Their creation was the Doge's final official act before he suffered his life-ending stroke. They transformed the event from a festival attraction to a competitive event that soon rivaled jousting in popularity.  What follows is a modernization/translation of the original Italian text.

Objectives of playEdit

  • Human Combat Chess is a game between two teams of 16 players each, under the discretion of a manager, played on a board in accordance with these rules, under the jurisdiction of one or more marshals.
  • The object of each team is to win by defeating the opponent’s King.
  • The winner of the game shall be the team which either (A) checkmates an opposing King or (B) defeats an opposing King in personal combat and, thus, removes him from the game.

The BoardEdit

The board is the primary playing space and shall be laid out as follows.

  1. The board shall be as long as it is wide measuring between twenty-four and forty feet on one side.  The board shall be divided into sixty-four equal squares measuring between three and five feet on one side, forming eight rows and eight columns of squares.  Rows are known as “Ranks” while columns are known as “Files”.
  2. The board shall be positioned so that there is ample room on two opposing sides of the board for player benches.  The two sides of the board nearest the benches shall be referred to as the “Ends of the Board”, while the other two opposing sides shall be referred to as the “Sides of the Board”.  The Ends of the Board are parallel to the Ranks while the Sides of the Board are parallel to the Files.
  3. The squares shall be colored using two distinct colors, the lighter of the two colors being known as “White”, while the darker of the two colors being known as “Black”.  The rightmost square on each End of the Board shall be White.  The remainder of the squares shall be painted alternatively so that no two orthogonally adjacent squares share the same color.
  4. The board shall be split into two halves parallel to the Ends of the Board.  One half of the board will be known as “White’s Territory”, while the other half shall be known as “Black’s Territory”.
  5. It is recommended that the distance from the board to the nearest wall, stand, or other obstructing object be at least 6 feet.

Board MovementEdit

Players shall assume the positions and movement as per the rules of standard chess.


Ranked PiecesEdit




Personal CombatEdit

Instances of official game-related combat held in contest of a board space shall be referred to as 'bouts'

Weapon SelectionEdit

As per standard dueling etiquette, the challenged piece ('defender') shall have the right to choose the weapons with which the bout shall be fought.  Exceptions are as follows:

  • Deference to Rank - In a bout between pieces of uneven station, the piece of higher rank shall have choice of weapon
  • Deference to Royalty - In a bout containing a King or Queen, the King or Queen shall have choice of weapon.