Wazir (chess)

A wazir (or vizir) is a fairy chess piece that moves like a rook, but can go only one square. In notation, it is given the symbol W. In this article, the wazir is represented by an inverted rook.

The wazir moves one square orthogonally.

History and nomenclature

The wazir is a very old piece, appearing in some very early chess variants, such as Tamerlane chess. The general in xiangqi moves like a wazir, but has additional restrictions involving check and where it can move. It also appears in some historical large shogi variants, such as dai shogi, under the name "angry boar" (嗔猪 shinchō).

The name wazīr (Arabic: وزير) means "minister" in several West and South Asian languages, and is found in English as vizier. Wazīr is also the Arabic name of the conventional chess piece called queen in English.


Fortress positions in the
rook vs. wazir endgame
Black to move, draw
Black to move, draw

The wazir by itself is not much more powerful than a pawn, but as an additional power to other pieces it is worth about half a knight. Three wazirs and a king can force checkmate on a bare king, but not easily; two wazirs and a king can force stalemate on a bare king, but not easily. The endgame of rook versus wazir is a win for the rook, except for two drawing fortress positions for the wazir. The ferz, despite being colourbound, is in fact more powerful than the wazir (in the opening phase of the game), due to its larger mobility forward. A wazir and a ferz cannot force checkmate on a bare king, unless the bare king is significantly close to a corner that is the same color as the ferz, but the combination of knight and wazir, the combination of giraffe (the (1,4)-leaper) and wazir, as well as that of camel and wazir, can do so. 4.29% of the positions with knight and wazir against the bare king are fortress draws.


  • Endgame statistics with fantasy pieces by Dave McCooey, The Chess Variant Pages
  • Dickins, Anthony (1971) [Corrected repub. of 1969 2nd ed., The Q Press, Richmond, Surrey, England]. A Guide to Fairy Chess. New York: Dover Publications Inc. ISBN 0-486-22687-5.
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