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16 January 2005 @ 07:23 pm
Reinventing Chess  
As I said in an earlier entry, I've recently become interested in chess variants and fairy chess pieces. Well, I've come up with a few of my own. None have been playtested yet, but I hope to eventually register my copy of Zillions Of Games (an interesting "universal" board game engine, complete with network play and an AI that can play any game you implement for it) and implement them.

My current favorite of the variants I've designed so far is Cold Fusion Chess. It's sort of a hybrid of Grand Chess, Fusion Chess, Pocket Knight Chess (and an informal variant idea involving demotions that appeared in the discussion thread on Pocket Knight), and a little bit of Shogi.

Setup:

As in Grand Chess. Additionally, each player has two places to put captured pieces: the Safe Pocket and the Demotion Pocket.

Pieces:

The pieces at the start are the same as in Grand Chess. There are additional pieces, though, which can appear as the result of fusions. The linked article on Fusion Chess lists most of them, but there are a few that are not found in either (although many can be found in other chess variants):
  • Berolina Pawn — sort of the inverse of a pawn, it can move passively (that is, without capturing) one space diagonally forward, and capture one space straight forward. It is considered a kind of pawn.
  • Sergeant — a combination of a regular pawn and a berolina pawn, it can move and capture one space in any of the three forward directions. It is capable of capturing en passant. It is also considered a kind of pawn.
  • Knightrider — can move any number of knight's moves in the same direction until it encounters an obstacle.
  • Archbishop — moves like a bishop, but may reflect once 90̊° off of the edge of the board.
  • Chariot — moves like a rook, but may turn once 90° and continue as a rook when it encounters an obstacle (an edge of the board or a friendly piece). As far as I know, this piece is unique to Cold Fusion Chess.
  • Cavalry, Berolina Cavalry, Cavalry Sergeant — may move as a knight or as a pawn, berolina pawn, or sergeant, respectively. Chess problemists call the Cavalry a Dragon, but Fusion Chess already calls the king + rook combination a Dragon King, and I wanted to avoid confusion.
  • Templar, Berolina Templar, Temple Sergeant — may move as a bishop or as a pawn, berolina pawn, or sergeant, respectively.
  • Guard, Berolina Guard, Guard Sergeant — may move as a rook or as a pawn, berolina pawn, or sergeant, respectively.
Rules:

The same as standard chess, with the following changes:
  • Instead of making a regular move, a player may pocket one of his own  men by moving it to his demotion pocket—basically, capturing his own piece. The king may not be pocketed. A player can only do this if he could make a regular move (that is, he's not otherwise stalemated).
  • Instead of making a regular move, a player may drop a pocketed or captured piece onto an empty square. Captured pieces dropped in this way switch their allegiance to the player who dropped them (as in Shogi). If the piece was dropped from the safe pocket, it remains the same kind of piece. If it was dropped from the demotion pocket, it becomes a different piece of equal or reduced value (see Demotions). Obviously, a player cannot do this if his pockets are empty. A player may not drop when his king is in check, even if it would break check. A pawn cannot be dropped on the 9th or 10th rank.
  • Pieces captured by regular (non-pawn, non-king) men are put in the capturing player's demotion pocket. Pawns captured in this way are removed from the game. Pieces captured by pawns (or by using the pawn component of a pawn-hybrid piece) or by a king go in the capturing player's safe pocket.
  • Pawns have the option of promoting on the 9th rank, and must promote on the 10th (this is the same as Grand Chess). Pawns may only promote to friendly non-pawn (note that berolina pawns and sergeants are considered pawns) pieces that the opponent has captured—when this happens, the captured piece is removed from the opponent's pocket and replaces the promoted pawn (without demoting), which is removed from play. A pawn cannot promote if the opponent is not holding any friendly pieces in his pockets, and therefore may not move to the 10th rank at all in such a situation, but may still threaten the opposing king with check from the 9th.
  • A piece may move onto the same square as a friendly piece and fuse with it. For a pawn to fuse with another piece, the pawn must be the one to move, using its capturing movement. See Fusions.
  • A compound piece (one formed from two or more other pieces) can split, moving a component piece away from the compound and leaving the other component(s) behind. The moving component moves using its normal movement (e.g. a bishop splitting off from a queen can only move away diagonally, not orthagonally) and cannot capture or fuse on the same turn. A pawn splitting off from a compound onto the 9th or 10th rank promotes as usual (optional on the 9th, mandatory on the 10th); however, a pawn left behind on the 9th by another piece splitting off from a compound does not have the option of promoting, and a pawn cannot be left behind on the 10th rank by a split. Note that the queen, cardinal, and marshal in the starting lineup are considered compounds and can split.
Fusions:

Fusions work similarly to the ones in Fusion Chess, but are a little less restricted. For one thing, pawns can fuse. However, there are still restrictions:
  • Each piece has a "weight": all non-compound non-pawn men including the king have weights of 1, basic pawns have weights of 1/3, and compounds have weights equal to the sum of the weights of their components. No compound may be formed with a weight exceeding 2.
  • No more pawns may be added to a sergeant.
  • The king may not fuse with pawns and vice versa.
Fusions result in the same compounds as they do in Fusion Chess, when applicable. The following are the fusions not found in Fusion Chess:
  • Pawn + pawn → Berolina pawn
  • Pawn + berolina pawn → Sergeant
  • Rook + pawn, berolina pawn, or sergeant → Guard, berolina guard, or guard sergeant respectively
  • Rook + rook → Chariot
  • Bishop + pawn, berolina pawn, or sergeant → Templar, berolina templar, or templar sergeant respectively
  • Bishop + bishop → Archbishop
  • Knight + pawn, berolina pawn, or sergeant → Cavalry, berolina cavalry, or cavalry sergeant respectively
  • Knight + knight → Knightrider
  • Guard, Templar, or Cavalry + pawn → Berolina guard, berolina templar, or berolina cavalry respectively
  • Guard, Templar, or Cavalry + berolina pawn → Guard sergeant, templar sergeant, or cavalry sergeant respectively
  • Berolina guard, berolina templar, or berolina cavalry + pawn → Guard sergeant, templar sergeant, or cavalry sergeant respectively
Demotions:

Compounds with pawn components lose one pawn component (as if it had split out) when demoting. All other demotions follow this sequence: Queen → Marshal → Cardinal → Chariot → Archbishop → Knightrider → Rook → Bishop → Knight → Sergeant → Berolina pawn → Pawn. Pawns do not demote.

I think that's everything. Yeah, it's quite a bit more complex than regular ol' chess.

EDIT: clarification of splitting pawns and promotion, minor format fix, "turning rook" now "chariot"
 
 
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Alun Clewe: coolalun_clewe on January 17th, 2005 03:44 am (UTC)
Just one comment: If a bishop that changes direction on hitting a boundary is called an archbishop, then I think the turning rook should have a more interesting name as well.

I was going to suggest "raven", but apparently that's already taken. So...perhaps "crow"?
gwallagwalla on January 17th, 2005 10:16 pm (UTC)
I would rather stick with the war-machine theme (the bird connection is a folk etymology). How about "chariot" (the meaning of the word from which "rook" actually derives)?
Alun Clewe: coolalun_clewe on January 17th, 2005 11:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, I was fully aware that the chess rook has nothing etymologically to do with the bird rook. It was an intentional bit of wordplay.

That being said, it just happened to be the first kind of name that came to mind, and I actually agree that something related to the real meaning behind the chess rook would be better. I just couldn't think of anything offhand.

Hm...I'm actually surprised there isn't already a fairy chess piece called a chariot. But if there is, it's obscure enough that the Chess Variant Pages "Piececlopedia" doesn't list it. Fair enough, then; I like it. As I said, the raven/crow business was just the first thing that came to mind, and I wasn't really happy with it; I agree that "chariot" is better.
gwallagwalla on January 18th, 2005 01:47 am (UTC)
Actually, there is. Well, are, which is the problem. Several variants use a piece called a "chariot", but they all use it to mean a different kind of piece. There's no real standardization. That is, unless you count the chariots in the various Asian cousins to chess (xiang qi, janggi, shogi, etc.), which are rooks.
gwallagwalla on January 18th, 2005 01:55 am (UTC)
Incidentally, the sequence of demotions is based on the relative values given in Who is Who on Eight by Eight. The only difference is that WiWo8x8 ranks the knightrider below a bishop (probably because it can move to and threaten fewer squares on any given turn, despite the fact that it's not colorbound like a bishop is). I just didn't want to have a simple piece demote to a compound, as that'd be pretty weird.

There may be a better way of ranking the pieces for demotion, though.
gwallagwalla on January 18th, 2005 01:57 am (UTC)
Oh, and the turning rook is added between Cardinal and Archbishop, since WiWo8x8 doesn't have it. That's totally a guess as to relative value.