The Chess Variant Pages




The Royal Standard

This is the submission of Alexandre Muñiz for the competition to design a chess variant on a board with 38 squares. He introduces his game as follows:

A while back, as I was thinking of the role of the pawns as a buffer against the force of the pieces behind them, I got the idea to replace the pawns with a row of "transmitters" behind the major pieces, where pieces could not move unless they were in range of the transmitters. In adapting the game for the smaller board, I first decreased the number and range of the transmitters, and made them uncapturable, because otherwise most of the pieces could become immobile very quickly. The standard-bearers in this game are not related to those in tai shogi.

The Royal Standard is the working name for this variant.

Rules

All Rules of FIDE Chess apply, except as noted.

A definition

"Adjacent" in these rules means horizontally, vertically or diagonally adjacent. Two squares are adjacent if a king could move from one to the other.

The goal

The goal of the game is to capture (not mate) the opponents king. With so many effectively unremovable pieces, it is very unlikely (I hope!) for a stalemated position to occur in normal play.

The initial board setup

 sskss
br.w.br
.......
.......
BR.W.BR
 SSKSS

[where W and S are new pieces, Windmills and Standard-bearers respectively.]

Variant setup

The inventor later wrote: It has become apparent to me both from a game I am playing at the moment and from the (partially) played game in the tournament, that it takes too long for the opposing armies to come into conflict in the Royal Standard. It may help to change the initial setup to:






The mobility rule

Excepting the king, no piece may move from, to, or through any square which is not occupied by, or adjacent to a standard-bearer of the same color. (For the standard-bearer and the windmill, this follows from the definitions of the pieces' moves.)

Special pieces

The Standard-bearer

The standard-bearer moves like a king. It may capture the opponent's king, but no other piece. A player may capture his or her own standard-bearers. When a standard-bearer is captured, the capturing player must immediately replace it on the board on a square that is adjacent to its position when it was captured. (Since there are no jumping pieces, there will always be at least one empty square for it to be displaced to, in the direction that the capturing piece came from.)

If a standard-bearer is displaced in this way (by either player) it may not move during its owner's next turn. A consequence of this is that a king may capture a standard bearer without moving into check, but it may not remain adjacent to the standard bearer after the next turn, because doing so would cause it to be captured. (This is the reason I chose to make king capture and not checkmate the goal, as it is possible for a player to have no legal move for the king that would not put it into check, including moves that leave the king in place, while still having plenty of other legal moves from other pieces. I did not think this was a reasonable condition for a stalemate.)

(The displacement-capture scheme seems like a reasonable way to have uncapturable pieces without allowing the board position to become too blocked. The immobility after capture was needed because without it a single standard-bearer would be too strong against the king and could easily force perpetual check with a rook or windmill capturing it each turn.)

The Windmill

When moving a windmill a player must first choose a standard-bearer that is adjacent to it. The windmill may then move clockwise or counter-clockwise through the squares that are adjacent to the chosen standard bearer. It may not jump over any piece, and it must end on a different square from where it began. On the diagram below, the windmill may move to the marked squares.

..***
B**S*
.SW**
R**..

The windmill is potentialy the most mobile of the pieces, although it does not have the same potential range as the bishop or rook. However, its inability to self-capture the adjacent standard-bearer may be a negative, since such a self-capture should often effectively allow one to develop two pieces at once.

Why there are no knights

They kept trying to attack the Windmills! I couldn't keep them apart.

I haven't played this yet, and it might still require a little tweaking, but I hope that it is playable. If the game seems too closed and cramped, it may help to weaken the mobility rule to only require the starting and ending positions in a move to be in standard-bearer range.

Enjoy!

--Alexandre Muñiz


Written by Alexandre Muñiz, (email removed contact us for address) t.net, slightly edited and picture by Hans Bodlaender.
This is an entry in the Contest to make a chess variant on a board with 38 squares.
WWW page created: December 3, 1997. November 15, 2000.