Chess sets come in many different theme styles, from "The Lord of the Rings," where Gandalf is the king, dragons are the knights and hobbits are the pawns, to the Smurfs, where Lady Smurf rules over all. For those that want to add an element of history to their chess games, medieval European, samurai and even cowboy and Indian chess sets are available. But for those that want to dive into the world of ancient Meso-America and pit ancient feather knights against each other, nothing will suit them like the Mayan chess set.
Use the Mayan soldiers as pawns. Smaller than the other pieces, the soldiers, which are sometimes soccer players in some sets, take up the front line of the pieces. They can move one or two spaces on their first move, and only one after that always in a forward directions. When they take another piece, it must be in a diagonal square.
Use the Mayan temples as rooks. These pyramid-like structures were part of the sacred landscape of Mayan cities. The temples move forward, backward and side ways, but always along straight lines.
Use the jaguars as knights. Jaguars replace horses or mounted knights in the Mayan chess set. They move in "L" shaped patterns, two spaces over and one to the side. They are the only piece that can jump over others while moving.
Use the Mayan priests as bishops. Mayan priests fulfilled important ceremonial roles in ancient Mayan society. They move diagonally on the chess board in any direction.
Play the Mayan queen as a queen. Queens are the most powerful pieces on the chess board and can move straight or diagonal in any direction and as far as they want. Place the queen on her own color on the chess board to make sure you have the set up correctly.
Play the Mayan king as the king. Kings were semi-divine in ancient Mayan society and ruled large city states that vied with each other for power. The Mayan king piece can also move in both straight lines and diagonal but only one space at a time. Guard your king well because when it becomes pinned into a situation where it is attacked and can not move to another square that is not threatened (checkmate), you lose the game.
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