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Magician Chess

The intention behind this variant is that it be similar enough to chess to be easy to learn, while being different enough to introduce a range of new tactics and strategies. It is played on a 7x7 board with 9 holes in it, leaving 40 occupyable squares. Only knights and Magicians can jump over holes.

The diagram below show the initial board setup, where the X's designate the holes.

+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| R | M | N | K | N | M | R |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| P | P | P | X | P | P | P |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| X |   |   |   |   |   | X |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| X |   |   | X |   |   | X |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| X |   |   |   |   |   | X |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| p | p | p | X | p | p | p |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| r | m | n | k | n | m | r |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
Most of the rules and pieces are those of chess. R=rook, P=pawn, N=knight, K=king. The object is to checkmate the opponents king. Stalemate is a draw.

The main difference is the Magician (M). The magician moves by hopping 2 squares diagonally or 1 square orthogonally. (These squares are designated by a '*' in the diagram below). NB this move is a NON-capture move. Magicians cannot capture in an orthodox way, they may only do so by using holes. (see below)

+---+---+---+---+---+
| * |   | o |   | * |
+---+---+---+---+---+
|   | o | * | o |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+
| o | * | M | * | o |
+---+---+---+---+---+
|   | o | * | o |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+
| * |   | o |   | * |
+---+---+---+---+---+

The other power of the magician is that they can cast spells to move around the holes on the board. If a hole is positioned 1 square diagonally or 2 squares away orthogonally (these squares are designated in the diagram above by an 'o' ) then the magician can cast a spell on that hole causing it to swap places with one of the squares orthogonally adjacent to the hole. ie if a magician can cast a spell on a hole at d4 then any of the squares at d3,d5,c4 and e4 could be swapped with the hole at d4. (NB a hole cannot be swapped with another hole). Finally if the square being swapped with the hole is occupied then the magician chooses whether the piece (or either colour) is to be carried with the square, or is to fall down the hole to oblivion, after the square dissappears from beneath it (ie is removed from the game; effectively it is captured) .

Magician spell cast example


   +---+---+---+---+---+
3  |   |   |   |   |   |         The magician on c2 can cast a spell on the hole on a2
   +---+---+---+---+---+
2  | X | n | M |   |   |         The squares a1,b2,a3 may all be swapped with the hole at a2
   +---+---+---+---+---+
1  |   |   |   |   |   |         If b2 is chosen then the piece (friend or foe) on b2 can be moved to a2
   +---+---+---+---+---+         or left to fall down the hole that appears underneath it
     a   b   c   d   e

Notation

Algebraic notation can be used for all traditional type moves. For ease of notation hole is designated 'H', thus can be written as a standard piece move. If the square that the hole is swapping with is occupied, and the piece is carried with the square then no addition notation shall be used, whereas if it is left behind (ie falls down the hole), since the piece is effectively captured, then 'x' is used to designate the capture as in standard algebraic notation.
   +---+---+---+---+---+
3  |   |   | X | P |   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+
2  |   | m |   |   |   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+
1  |   |   |   |   |   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+
     c   d   e   f   g
E.g.: The magician on d2 is to move the hole on e3 to f3 which is occupied.

Case 1 - capture.

Hxf3 indicates that the piece on f3 was captured, thus when the f3 square and the e3 hole swap places the piece on f3 is left behind by the square, thus falls down the hole and is captured.

   +---+---+---+---+---+
3  |   |   |   | X |   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+
2  |   | m |   |   |   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+
1  |   |   |   |   |   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+
     c   d   e   f   g

Case 2 - no capture.

Hf3 indicates that no capture took place, so when the hole on e3 and the square on f3 swap places the piece travels with the square to e3.
   +---+---+---+---+---+
3  |   |   | P | X |   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+
2  |   | m |   |   |   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+
1  |   |   |   |   |   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+
     c   d   e   f   g

Castling

Castling is allowed under the normal conditions of standard chess. Note that castling left (whites left) will leave the king on the b file (b1 or b8 depending on whether you are black or white) and the rook on the c file (c1 or c8); while castling to the right will leave the king on the f file and the rook on the e file. since there is no kingside or queenside I suggest that the terms castling b-side or f-side be used instead (b or f being the file that the king ends up on) thus castling be symbolised by 0-0(b) or 0-0(f) instead of 0-0 and 0-0-0

Pawns

Pawns may move two squares forward if they are on the on the first or second rank (but cannot jump), whether they have moved or not.ie they may have been swapped to their current square by a magician after having moved already (or not having moved yet), but this does not disqualify them from moving two squares, location is all that matters. En passant is allowed if a pawn, moving two squares, passes over a square attacked by an opposing pawn.It must be excecuted the move immediately after the two square move. (ie the standard en passant law applies, extended to situations where the pawn starts its move on the first rank instead of the second)

Promotion

A pawn promotes at the far end of the board, and may promote to a piece combining the powers of two of the R,N,M. (eg a pawn can promote to a piece that combines the powers of a knight and a rook). Thus a promoted pawn is more powerful than anything that starts on the board at the beginning of the game.

The Board

It's probably easiest to play on 7x7 board using checker pieces to deignate the current positions of the holes.

Sample Game

(no guarantees of quality :-) )
1.c4       e4
2.Nb3      f4
3.Nc2      Nf3
4.Me1      Ne6
5.Mc3      Mf6
6.Hxe4     He6
7.Mbd3     Nxc4
8.0-0(b)   b4
9.Me1      Md5
10.Hxf4    Ne5
11.Mdf1    c4
12.Nc5+    Kc6
13.Nxb4+   Kxc5
14.Nxd5    Kxd5
15.Rd1     Rgd7
16.Mc3     Nd4
17.Hc2     Kc5
18.Rd2     Nb5
19.Rxd7    Nxc3+
20.bxc3    Rxd7
21.f3      Rd1+
22.Kb2     Hxf3
23.He3     Mf5
24.Me1     Mf4
25.Rf1     Hgf3
26.g3      Hxe2
27.gxf4    Nd3#


Written by Jonathon Whittle.
This is an entry in the contest to design a chess variant on a board with 40 squares.
WWW page created: November 23, 1999.