Djambi (also described as "Machiavelli's chessboard") is a board game and a chess variant for four players, invented by Jean Anesto in 1975. The rulebook in French describes the game, the pieces and the rules in a humorous and theatrical way, clearly stating that the game pieces are intended to represent all wrongdoings in politics.

Board of Djambi, with the pieces in their start position. Each piece is identified by the first letter of its name as well as a symbol. The E5 square, at the exact center of this 9X9 board, is called "the maze" and has special rules concerning it.
Board of Djambi, with the pieces in their start position. Each piece is identified by the first letter of its name as well as a symbol. The E5 square, at the exact center of this 9X9 board, is called "the maze" and has special rules concerning it.

Rules

Material

The game is played on a 9×9 board whose central square (called "the maze") is marked with a different color or a sign. Each player has nine pieces:

Objective

The objective of the game is to get absolute power by being the last chief alive on board. Although informal alliances can be temporarily agreed upon, there is no team: each player plays against the other players.

Start position

The pieces are placed in each corner of the board as shown in the picture above. Order of play is red - blue - yellow - green.

Movements

Each player, at their turn, moves one of their pieces, and can possibly capture a piece in this way. The militants move of one or two squares in the eight directions; the other pieces can move through any number of squares in the eight directions. A piece cannot jump above another piece.

Militant and regular piece move
Militant and regular piece move

Captures

The pieces are "killed" as soon as they are captured, but their "corpses" stay on the board (the pieces are turned upside down to show that they are "dead"). The militant kills by occupying the square of a piece (capture by replacement). They place the corpse on an unoccupied square of their choice, except on the central square (the "maze"). A militant cannot kill a chief in power (see the maze below).

Shows a move where chief piece kills and places corpses to protect themselves against further moves
Shows a move where chief piece kills and places corpses to protect themselves against further moves
Forced placement of corpse when assassin kills.
Forced placement of corpse when assassin kills.
Reporter may kill one of orthogonal pieces at arrival. They may also move without killing.
Reporter may kill one of orthogonal pieces at arrival. They may also move without killing.

The diplomat and the necromobile cannot kill the other pieces but can move them.

Advantageous positioning of living pieces of adversary.
Advantageous positioning of living pieces of adversary.
Protecting your pieces by moving corpses.
Protecting your pieces by moving corpses.

Death and surrounding of a chief

Chief dies if completely surrounded and has no necromobile. Their pieces will become minions of chief in the maze or the first chief that enter the maze.
Chief dies if completely surrounded and has no necromobile. Their pieces will become minions of chief in the maze or the first chief that enter the maze.

When a player kills the chief of another player, they take control of the remaining living pieces of this one. At their turn, they will have the choice between using one of their own pieces, or using one of the captured pieces. When a player has no necromobile and their chief is surrounded by corpses, they are eliminated (except if they are in power, in the maze). Their pieces now belong to the chief in power. If there is no chief in power, then the pieces cannot be moved or killed, until the moment when a chief takes the power, and captures them in that way (they keep control on these pieces even if they leave the maze).

The maze

The central square of the board (E5) is called the maze. Each piece can go through this square, but the chief is the only piece that can stop on it. A chief who is in the maze is a chief "in power". They play one time after each player. For instance, if there are four players, they play three times in a turn (if there are two players, they play twice consecutively). When they leave the maze, they lose this power. A chief in power takes control of the pieces of the surrounded chiefs, and keeps them after losing the power. A chief in power cannot be killed by a militant. The surrounding has no effect on them as long as they stay on the maze. An assassin, a troublemaker or a necromobile can go in the maze to kill or move a living chief or a chief corpse, the piece must make an additional move immediately, in order to leave the maze. The original rule humoristically states that it is done to avoid things like an assassin empowered in the maze. It is done in this order :

How to make the extra move when killing in the maze
How to make the extra move when killing in the maze

This order of actions allows placing the chief/corpse between the maze and the new position of the acting piece.

Alliances and betrayals

There can be informal agreements or alliances between the players, but there is no rule to prevent any betrayal.

End of the game

The game ends when a player has killed the chiefs of all of the other players.

Variants

Three-player variant

The pieces of the missing fourth player are "hostages". These pieces can be killed or moved by the pieces of the players. When the chief is captured, the normal rules to take control of them apply. The hostage chief can be placed in the maze, but it has no influence on the game.