Ven literature makes several mentions of tivalti. Until recently, most ven scholars had little information on the game, but recent revelations have given us a very good look at what many call “ven chess.”

The game can be recreated with a standard chess board and pieces, but many of the pieces have different names and slightly different moves.

The Pieces

Spear (Pawn): The spear (or spearman) may only move forward but may move one or two spaces. Like the pawn, the Spear may only attack diagonally. The spear may not jump pieces like a knight.

Roadman (Knight): Moves as a knight.

Sword (Bishop): The sword (or swordsman) moves as a bishop.

Lover (Rook): The lover takes the place of the rook. The lover has a very strange move in that it can exchange places with the husband or the wife (see below) once per game. This move is called “the lover’s leap.” The lover may move in any direction but only two spaces.

The Wife & The Husband: At the beginning of the game both players put their respective husband (the King) and wife (the queen) in either the left or right hand and reveal their choices at the same time. The piece in the left hand is the submissive and the piece in the right hand is the dominant. The submissive piece moves like a standard king and the the dominant piece moves in a completely different way. The dominant piece may move as any other piece on the board.


The object of the game is to capture the dominant husband or wife. Not to isolate it (as in regular chess) but to capture it. Once the dominant is captured, the game is over.


If a player moves any piece to the other side of the board, he may exchange that piece for another captured piece.