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French Revolution Chess

In the French revolution, the `nobility' was threatened by many common people. No longer protected by their servants, many were killed. In this chess variant, a submission to the contest to design a chess variant that lasts at most 32 turns, players have mainly pawns to attack, and have their main pieces mainly for defence, at start.


The game is played by two players, with a normal chess set. The standard chess setup is changed by placing all white pawns on the fifth row, and all black pawns on the fourth row:




Every turn, a player makes two moves:

  1. He moves a king, queen, rook, knight, or bishop, or he castles, and
  2. He moves one of his pawns.
I.e., every turn of a player consists of two parts, that both must be carried out: a non-pawn move, and a pawn move; in that order. If one of these is not possible (e.g., when a player has no pawns left); then the game ends in a draw. (A variant is that the stalemated played `weakly loses' the game: then the stalemated player gets 1/3 point, and the other player gets 2/3 point.)

On his first turn, white only makes a pawn move, and not a non-pawn move.

Pawns on the fourth and fifth row may not be taken. All other rules are as in orthodox chess.


The game never lasts more than 24 turns, as the pawns can take at most 24 steps. The game is inspired by several chess variants.


You can also play this game in Avalanche chess fashion, i.e., players move one of their own pieces, and a pawn of the opponent. That would give quite a different game, which probably is also playable.

Another variant (thanks to David Howe) is play this without pawn promotion, i.e., when a pawn reaches the last row, it just stays there.

David Howe suggested the variant where two additional rows are added on the board. Then, the game can last at most 32 turns, which is the specific number for this contest.

This is an entry in the contest to design a chess variant of at most 32 turns.
Written by Hans Bodlaender. A small rule change in the order of the pawn and non-pawn move was made April 26, 2000, to avoid the question if a promoted pawn could move directly again.
WWW page created: April 20, 2000.