The Chess Variant Pages




Heaven

Contribution to the design contest of making a chess variant using a board with 39 squares

Introduction

When I invented this game I was inspired by a story about the difference between heaven and hell. According to this story hell is not the places with fire as we usually think it is. It resembles heaven exactly. Both in heaven and in hell are long tables with lots of food and wine and everybody can take what he wants. But there is one difference with our life here on earth: no one can put the food or drink in his own mouth. Someone else must help you. And here is the difference between heaven and hell. In heaven everyone is generous enough to give the food to the neighbour. In hell everybody is trying to put as much food in their own mouths, in vain of course. In heaven there is plenty, in hell there is much suffering because of thirst and starvation.

In my chess variant Heaven every piece is worth nothing by itself. It cannot move by itself, it has to be helped by the other pieces. So every piece gives it capabilities of movement and capture to other pieces. Suppose a rook is on a1 and a pawn is on a2, then the pawn can move is if it was a rook. The rook -if not covered by another piece- can’t move.

Winning

You win when you get one of your pieces to the goalfield of your opponent (the field where the king starts). It resembles My38 Chess. It is funny to see that the inventor of this variant had the same idea as I had. Unfortunately he posted his idea one year earlier. There is no check or (stale)mate.

The board

Here is the board, with the pieces in starting position. The goalfields are d1 and d9.

In FFEN (for those with no graphical browsers; - stands for nonexisting square): ---k---/--ppp--/-1bnr1-/7/7/7/-1NRB1-/--PPP--/---K---.

The pieces

The pieces are the same as in FIDE Chess: King, Rook, Bishop, Knight and Pawn. Since this game allows dropping, I advise to use wedge shaped pieces, as in Shogi.

Moving and capturing

Every piece has the capacity of the pieces in FIDE chess. The only difference is in the fact that a piece gives his powers to a piece he covers.

If you can’t move anymore, you forfeit your turn, the next player is. Effectively, you lose the game if you play variant A.

The variants

In variant A your pieces give their powers only to your own pieces. In variant B your pieces give their powers to the opponent’s pieces as well.

Watch out!!

Only variant A has been playtested (and works), variant B has not been tested.

Drops

A captured piece is kept in hand and changes side, like a Shogi piece. Pieces in hand can be dropped everywhere on the board, except for the goalfield.

Notation

The rows are labeled ‘1’ to ‘9’, the columns ‘a’ to ‘g’. Due to the shape of the board, some fields do not exist (like a1, b2 etc.,)

Remarks

Beginning to play this game you have to get used to the concept that a piece can do nothing by itself. It needs other pieces to move and capture. Therefor I have the following tips:
  • Try to let your pieces operate as a group.
  • Make use of your king. All pieces surrounding the King are reasonable flexible, being able to move all sides.
  • Avoid your pieces getting isolated (for obvious reasons).
  • Avoid that pieces that assist a lot of pieces at the same time. If that one piece get captured, all the pieces that relied on that piece are pieces getting powerless. Your ‘system’ is crippled or falls apart and your pieces become an easy prey for the opponent.
  • Dropping a Knight close to the goalfield can be a strong move. If you drop another piece in the vicinity of that Knight, almost nothing can stop it from jumping to the goalfield.
  • The game can be over very quickly!

Comment

Rob Nierse wrote as postscriptum: Although I have designed this game already some time ago, the board is much alike the board in other already submitted games. I still submit Heaven because its mechanism is different from the others. While I couldn’t playtest it good enough, I like the game (at least the few games I could play). I hope you have fun with it.
Written by Rob Nierse.
This game is a submission in the contest to design a chess variant on a board with 39 squares.
Heaven can be played with the Zillions of Games program. To play Heaven if you have this program, you can download the necessary files (zipfile.) Zrf-file by David Howe.
WWW page created: July 20, 1998. Last modified: February 9, 1999.