The Haystack Game

The Pawns are stationary and described as haystacks. The story is that the Knights are attracted to the haystacks as food. The teacher can give entertaining comments such as that the horses are hungry and need to get to the next haystack quickly.

Set up
Each player places eight of their pawns and a knight on any squares on the chessboard. White plays first and the players take turns to place all their pieces on unoccupied squares. They place the knight first. The idea is to make the pawns as inaccessible as possible for the opponent’s knight.

Once the pawns are set up they are stationary and cannot capture. Only the knights can move and capture. The objective is to be the first to capture all the opponent’s pawns.

Example setup

The diagram shows a typical starting position from the game played by experienced players – notice that the haystacks (pawns) are far distant from each other.


*The stronger player is given fewer pawns
*The pawns can capture


*Can you set up a fortress so that the pawns cannot be captured?

The pawns are prickly and can capture so the knight must be careful. However, the knight can get behind the pawn formation and pick off the pawns one by one.